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AJL at the American Library Association Conference

Explore Over Two Centuries of Jewish Heritage in Florida at ALA Annual Conference

If you're going to the 2016 ALA Annual Conference and/or live in or will be visiting Central Florida after AJL Annual Conference in Charleston, you are cordially invited to attend a special program co-sponsored by AJL and ALA in Orlando, the tenth such program since 1995:

What: “Chronicle of a People: Over 250 Years of Florida Jewish History”

Where: Hyatt Regency Orlando - 9801 International Drive, Orlando, FL, Celebration 10 room.

When: ?Sunday, June 26, 2016, ?1:00 - 2:30 PM

Free Admission

Please join the Jewish Information Committee of the ALA Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT-JIC) and the Association of Jewish Libraries for an exploration of over two and a half centuries of Jewish life in the Sunshine State during “Chronicle of a People: Over 250 Years of Florida Jewish History,” to be held on Sunday, June 26th from 1:00-2:30 pm at the Hyatt Orlando, Celebration 10 room.

During this session, guest speaker Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-Florida International University (FIU) will discuss her research into the rich history and compelling backstories of Jewish Floridians. Zerivitz dispels the popular notion of Jews arriving in Florida only after World War II, as she found evidence of the community dating as far back as 1763, including such notable personalities as David Levy Yulee who saw Florida’s admission as the 27th state on March 3, 1845 and served as the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, and through the present, where Florida is both the third overall most populous state and has the third highest Jewish population in the US.

Zerivitz has traveled 250,000 miles across Florida to conduct grassroots research and retrieve the state’s unknown Jewish history to create an archival collection and traveling exhibition that would eventually become the Jewish Museum of Florida (JMOF) in Miami Beach. She also initiated legislation for Florida Jewish History Month (January) and a Jewish American Heritage Month (May) to increase awareness of the contributions by Jews to the state and nation. She authored all of the Florida entries for the Encyclopædia Judaica, and her scholarship has been used in films, historical journals, and books, including publications by Brandeis University Press; she has been published internationally. She has written two photo-documentaries for Arcadia Publishing: Jews of Greater Miami (2009) and Jews of Tampa (2013).

This 90-minute program is free and open to all attendees of ALA Annual Conference and AJL members and AJL 2016 Conference attendees. For more information, please visit www.eventscribe.com/2016/ala-annual/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=137968 and  www.alaannual.org.

Founded in 1982, the Ethnic and Multicultural Information and Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) serves as a source of information for recommended ethnic and multilingual collections, services, and programs.

The Jewish Information Committee (JIC) was inaugurated in the early 1970s as the Jewish Caucus by EMIERT founder David Cohen.  Initially an independent caucus in ALA, by the 1990s, as the Jewish Librarians Committee, it  became a part of EMIERT.   The JIC advocates for issues of Jewish concern within ALA and in libraries and promotes education by coordinating, sponsoring, and co-sponsoring programs on Jewish culture and history and other topics at ALA’s and other associations’ conferences and meetings.  The JIC also participates in collaborative programs with other ethnic caucuses and ALA affiliates such as AJL; REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking; and the American Theological Library Association (ATLA).  

2015 AJL Reference Award Announced

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Jefferson, Chair
Judaica Reference and Bibliography Awards Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries

May 2016
For immediate release


The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces the 2015 Judaica Reference Award Winner

The Association of Jewish Libraries encourages the publication of outstanding works of Judaica reference through its annual award. This year's Reference Award for a 2015 publication is given to The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction, edited by David Brauner and Axel Staehler and published by Oxford University Press.

The Association of Jewish Libraries' Awards Committee was impressed with the high quality of this reference work, which they described  as a "compelling resource" that "fills a gap in the field." The 456 pages of The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction are divided into three sections, covering for the first time the modern Jewish fiction of the Anglosphere, but also extending across transnational boundaries, and comparing major figures with lesser-known writers to highlight the diversity of the field. Each of the 28 essays, written by international experts in the field, tackle key themes in Jewish writing and thought, such as immigration, assimilation, Feminism, Zionism, the Holocaust and antisemitism.

Committee members were impressed with the inclusion of works traditionally designated as nonfiction, including memoir and biography, giving the book a wider scope than its title indicates. Another point of interest was the questions it raised about what is considered to be Jewish fiction. The book is supplied with an extensive index of works cited, providing an essential tool of reference for scholars and researchers in the field.


In Memory of Judy R. Cohn


by Ellen Cole

Judy R. Cohn was a dynamic member and leader of AJLSC (Association of Jewish Libraries, Southern California chapter) for many years.  When she died in 2015 our cherished colleague donated a large grant to AJL to help defray convention costs for members.  Her funds created the Judy R. Cohn Conference Stipend Fund.  We in AJLSC miss her and wish to share some facts about her life.

Judy was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Bennett and Anne Cohn. Her brother is Doug Cohn. She attended The University of Oklahoma at Norman and The University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education.  She continued her education at the University of Denver, University of Southern California and UCLA.

She worked for the School District of Los Angles from 1963 until her 2005 retirement.  Judy spent the last fifteen years of her career as the Librarian and Library Media Teacher at Granada Hills Charter High School.  After retiring she worked as a California State University Long Beach Lecturer and Teacher and as a substitute Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library.  Judy was married to Bernie Stickgold from 1989 until his death in 2004.

To say that Judy was active before and after retirement is a gross understatement.  Judy was very, very active in both the Jewish world and in the library world.  She was a member and leader of countless organizations including:  President, Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California; Vice President, Study Groups, Brandeis University Women’s Committee; Curriculum Coordinator and President of the California School Library Association; and a Board Member of Friends of Encino-Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.  Judy was President of the Santa Monica Friends of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Communications Chair for the San Fernando Valley L. A. Philharmonic Friends group. She was a Board Member of Shirim Ha-Emek chapter of Hadassah.

We remember Judy’s warm, enthusiastic personality, her terrific sense of humor, her calm even handedness and her willingness to get involved and stay involved in a broad array of organizations and projects.  Her home was open to all.  She liked nothing better than having 30-50 friends or committee members over for a holiday dinner or organizational planning meeting.  Books and reading were her hobbies.  Throughout her career she amassed a huge collection of books that she stored in every nook and cranny of her home.  Children’s books were her favorite as reflected by her 25-year membership in The Children's Book Club in Pasadena. She loved librarians as much as books and always enjoyed the annual AJL conferences.

Judy passed away at age 79 at her home in Northridge, California, on May 31, 2015.  She suffered from a   malignant brain tumor discovered in November 2012.  We loved her.  We miss her.  We thank her for her incredible generosity to AJL.

The Wonders of Charleston!

Float your mouse over the picture to see the links to info on Charleston, the setting for AJL's June 19-22, 2016 conference!

AJL Elections Will Take Place in May

AJL will hold its regular biennial election May 2 to May 31, 2016. Once again, we will be voting by electronic ballot. It’s very important that we have up-to-date email addresses for all members. If your email address has changed, please contact our vice-president for membership, Sheryl Stahl at sstahl@huc.edu. Ballots will be sent to all current AJL members by email on May 2. If you do not receive one, please contact Joy Kingsolver at 630-988-4726 or joy.kingsolver@gmail.com. If you need a paper ballot, please call Joy to request one.


[Note: The current VP/President-Elect, already in place, is Amalia Warshenbrot. She will become the President during the 2016 AJL conference in June.]

Dina Herbert is the Coordinator for the Innovation Hub at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. She was previously the librarian for the Iraqi Jewish Archive project at the National Archives and has held positions at the JTS Library in New York and the SAIS Library in Washington, D.C. She's been active in AJL since 2012 and co-chaired the 2015 Silver Spring Conference. Dina has a B.A. in Ancient Studies from Columbia University and both a B.A. and an M.A. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She received her M.L.S. from the University of Maryland. She lives with her husband and young daughter in Northern Virginia.

VP for Membership
Shulamis Hes manages print/digital resource integration and spending, including 400 databases and over 300,000 journals, for Yeshiva University’s (YU) three libraries; and guides patrons in general and Judaic research. She develops tools and programs such as YUFind discovery service and The Last Minute, a marathon evening of research and writing assistance. Shulamis leads these patron-centered initiatives collaboratively with library staff, YU administration and faculty, and affiliated medical/law librarians.

VP for Development
Fred Isaac has been a member of AJL since 1991. He has served as SSC President and on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, and co-chaired the 2005 Conference in Oakland. He is the past librarian at Temple Sinai in Oakland and now is their historian and Archivist. He currently serves on the Board of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. When not involved in synagogue activities, he plays tennis, walks, and reads (preferably Judaica and crime fiction).

Pat Fenton is the Manager of Judaica and Public Services at the Ostrow Library of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and she teaches classes in rabbinic literature in the rabbinical school, the school of education, and the undergraduate college. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Pat is a Conservative rabbi.

Nancy Sack has been a member of AJL for the past 25 years. She has served the association as Newsletter editor, exhibits chair, conference co-chair, and web slave. She was a cataloger at Northwestern University for nine years before moving to Hawaii 14 years ago to work at the University of Hawaii.

SSC President
Kathy Bloomfield is the founder of forwordsbooks, a national Jewish book fair business. Currently, she is the Clergy Assistant at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where she is also assisting with the revitalization of the Adat Shalom library. Her volunteer roles have included Temple President, Mikveh Guide, URJ Outreach Fellow, and member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Kathy’s website is http://forwordsbooks.com, where she writes about children’s literature with Jewish values content.

Susan Kusel is the librarian at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. She is also the children's book buyer and selector for Words bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey and the owner of Dream On Books, a book consulting company. She has been a librarian at Arlington Public Library, and a bookseller for Politics and Prose and Child's Play. She was a member of the 2015 Caldecott Medal selection committee and is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

RAS President
Rebecca Jefferson has been a member of AJL since 2010, and since 2012 has served as a co-editor for the Adult Reviews section of the AJL newsletter. She has served also as the AJL RAS Vice President for two years between 2014-2016. As a librarian, Jefferson is responsible for the collection development and overall management of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. Since 2015, she has been the Principle Investigator on a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant to refocus the Judaica Library as a regional center of excellence for Jewish resources from Florida, Latin American and the Caribbean. Jefferson holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Hebrew from the University of Cambridge. She previously worked as a research associate in Cambridge University Library where she was the bibliographer for the Cairo Genizah collections.

Rachel Simon is a cataloger at Princeton University, and researches Jews in the modern Middle East and North Africa. She contributes regularly to AJL Reviews, has twice been a member of the RAS Cataloging Committee (chairing it once), as well as the RAS Bibliography and Reference Awards Committee, the Education Committee, and the By-Laws Committee. Rachel introduced the "Judaica/Hebraica T-shirt" activity at the AJL conference lunch. Among her recent scholarly contributions, she has been a section editor of the online edition of the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Brill), writing several entries including those on Jewish printing and publishing and on Jewish journals. She also compiled an annotated bibliography on the Jews of North Africa for Oxford Bibliographies Online.


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