Find us on: Bookmark and Share

Entries for 'Heidi Estrin'




(New York—January 7, 2009) Richard Michelson and Raul Colon, author and illustrator of As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, Karen Hesse, author of Brooklyn Bridge, and Valerie Zenatti, author of A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, are the 2009 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. 


The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago this July.


Michelson and Colon will receive the 2009 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers Category for As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, published by Alfred A. Knopf.  Two very special clergymen, one a rabbi, the other an African-American reverend are raised in divergently different countries yet experience similar levels of persecution and bigotry that will one day bring them together. As colleagues in America’s struggle for civil rights, they march together from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965. Colon’s colored pencil and watercolor illustrations “offer a beautiful complement to the text, describing two unique paths from childhood to adult life – Martin’s in the rich, warm brown-tones of the American south and Abraham’s in cool blues and grays that reminded the illustrator of old World War II movies.  When the two exemplary men join in their march for tolerance, the palettes merge in full color harmony,” comments Debbie Colodny, a member of the Award Committee. This book is recommended for grades 2-5.


Hesse will receive the 2009 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers Category for Brooklyn Bridge, published by Feiwel & Friends. While his family left the anti-Semitism of Russia to build the American dream, Joey Michtom’s dream is to visit the glittering Coney Island.Crafting a story from the spark of a true event, the invention of the Teddy Bear in 1903, Hesse masterfully weaves multiple themes of hard-work, survival, homelessness, and familial dedication with interlocking and parallel stories of families who live reasonably well opposite those less fortunate living in the shadows below the imposing Brooklyn Bridge,” comments Rita Soltan, a member of the Award Committee. This book is recommended for grades 5-8. Hesse also won the 1992 Award for Older Readers for Letters from Rifka, and a 2004 Honor Award for Older Readers for The Cats in Kransinski Square.



Zenatti will receive the 2009 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers Category for A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, published by Bloomsbury.  This story about the relationship between an Israeli girl, Tal, and a Palestinian boy, Naim, via e-mail and instant messaging, is honest but hopeful.  Well-written and compelling, the tale of their relationship conveys the confusion, anger, exhaustion, and depression felt by many young people during the 2003 intifada,” comments Susan Berson, a member of the Award Committee. Zenatti’s memoir, When I Was a Soldier, was a 2005-6 AJL Notable Book for Older Readers.


Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2009.  For Younger Readers, Honor Books are: Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen with illustrations by Shahar Kober (Kar-Ben), Sarah Laughs by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Natascia Ugliano (Kar-Ben), A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet by Richard Michelson with illustrations by Ron Mazellan (Sleeping Bear Press) and Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen with paintings by Jim Burke (Philomel Books).   Aranka Siegal’s Memories of Babi (Farrar Straus and Giroux) was named an Honor Book for Older Readers, and Freefall by Anna Levine (Greenwillow Books) was named an Honor Book in the Teen Reader Category.


In addition to the medal-winners, the Award Committee designated twenty-two Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2009: six in the Younger Readers Category, ten in the Older Readers Category, and four for Teens.  Genesis—the Book with Seventy Faces: A Guide for the Family by Esther Takac with illustrations by Anna Pignataro (Pitspopany Press) and Celebrating with Jewish Crafts by Rebecca Edid Ruzansky with photographs by Roberto Zeballos-Peralta (self-published) impressed the Award Committee with their uniqueness and range. They have been designated Notable Books for all ages. Notable titles, and more information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award, may be found online at Interviews with winning authors will be posted on prominent children’s literature blogs as part of a “blog tour” beginning on January 18, 2009; details will be posted on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog at




The Sydney Taylor Book Award, AJL's annual prize for Jewish children's and teen literature, will be celebrating and showcasing its 2009 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour! Here is the preliminary schedule:

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Karen Hesse, author of Brooklyn Bridge
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Jewish Books for Children

Monday, January 19, 2009
Richard Michelson
Author of As Good As Anybody, Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
Author of A is for Abraham, Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Well-Read Child

Monday, January 19, 2009
Ron Mazellan, illustrator of A is for Abraham
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Tales from the Rushmore Kid

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Jane Yolen, author of Naming Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Boston Bibliophile

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Anna Levine
Author of Freefall, Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category
Author of Jodie's Hanukkah Dig, Notable Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Abby (the) Librarian

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Jim Burke, illustrator of Naming Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Page Flipper

Thursday, January 22, 2009
Jacqueline Jules, author of Sarah Laughs
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Chicken Spaghetti

Friday, January 23, 2009
Deborah Bodin Cohen, author of Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, January 23, 2009
Shahar Kober, illustrator of Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe
Please be sure to visit these blogs on and after these dates to read interviews with these amazing authors and illustrators.



Posted in: Uncategorized
REgional Conference2009 by you.   Panel Lisa Hamida Eric Talma

On Sunday, February 1, 2009, seventy-seven people gave up watching part of the Superbowl to attend the 7th annual AJL Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for Children. This year the conference focused on using literature to teach about the Holocaust.

The morning started with coffee and rugellah. After all, what's a Jewish event without good food? Everyone registered in the library at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance and then heard a panel discussing using Holocaust literature. The panel was moderated by Adaire Klein, library director of the Wiesenthal Center. Other panelists were Lisa SIlverman from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Hamida Bosmajian from the University of Seattle, Talma Shultz from Facing History and Ourselves, and Eric Sundquist from UCLA. Each panelists shared some information and then answered questions from the floor.

Everyone then toured the Museum of Tolerance exhibit on the Holocaust including a look at some of the archival materials and primary documents.

After lunch, attendees chose to go to one of the small group sessions:

Viewing the Holocaust Through the Lens of Literature with Hamida Basmajian and Eric Sundquist

or Holocaust Literature as Part of the Curriculum in Elementary, Middle, and High School with Lisa Silverman, Talma Shultz, and Adaire Klein.


The day concluded with an autograph and dessert party. Authors in attendance were Sonia Levitin, Susan Goldman Rubin, April Halprin Wayland, Sylvia Rouss, Gretchen Woelfle, Ann Stampler, Joan Stuchner, Karen Winnick, Erica Silverman, and Barbara Bietz.


A copy of the full program is below. The panel and one of the sessions was taped and will be available as a podcast shortly on the AJL web page.



Susan Dubin

AJL President


Jewish Literature for Children

Western Regional Conference

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sponsored by Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library, Association of Jewish Libraries,

          Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California, Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance,

UCLA Department of Jewish Studies




9:00 – 4:00                  Manuscript Consultations


9:00 – 9:30                  Registration and coffee


9:30 – 9:35                  Greetings and Introduction


9:35 – 10:45                Panel on Teaching the Holocaust through Literature

Adaire Klein, Moderator, is the founding Director of Library and Archival Services at the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance. She holds a B.A. in Hebrew Literature and a M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University.


Hamida Bosmajian, Professor Emerita of the English Department at Seattle University, is the author of  Sparing the Child. Grief and the Unspeakable in Youth Literature about Nazism and the Holocaust  (Routledge , 2002) and Metaphors of Evil. Contemporary German Literature and the Shadow of Nazism (U. of Iowa Press, 1979). The Children’s Literature Association honored Sparing the Child with the ChLA Book Award in 2004.


Talma Shultz is an instructor and lecturer with Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that offers teacher training programs for Middle School and High School Holocaust Education.


Lisa Silverman is the director of the Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library at Sinai Temple. She leads classes and book groups, along with organizing community programs on literature. She is the children’s editor of Jewish Book World magazine and also a reviewer of children’s literature for various other publications. She has often been a featured speaker at library conventions or literary conferences. She serves as a judge for the children’s division of the National Jewish Book Award and also for the “Once Upon a World” Book Award.


Eric J. Sundquist is the UCLA Foundation Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Professor Sundquist received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.  He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University and is the author or editor of twelve books, the most recent of which are King’s Dream (2009); Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America (2005), which received the Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute Book Award.


11:00 – 12:30              Museum Tour

Everyone will go through a metal detector when entering the Museum.  All bags and purses will be x-rayed.  We ask that the following items not be brought to the Museum: cameras, food, candy, gum, beverages, sharp objects, mace and electronic devices.


12:45 – 1:45                Lunch


2:00 – 3:30                  Small Group Sessions with Panel Members


                                    I. Viewing the Holocaust Through the Lens of Literature: Hamida                                                  Basmajian and Eric Sundquist



o        Perception of “Children’s Literature” as an academic field of study.

o        Authorial motivation to write Holocaust narratives as children’s literature.

o        Contexts and readers of Holocaust narratives for North American children and youths. The aim of testimony in the context of children’s literature.


o        Structures, Conventions, Genres—

§         The survivor journal, memoir, or autobiography as privileged form –ethos of the survivor as hero, the testimony of the survivor as victim.

§         Fictionalized autobiographies based on authorial childhood memory.

§         Fictional Holocaust narratives and acquired memory—possibilities and limitations.

The following narratives will be referred to as examples during this session: The Diary of Anne Frank, Ruth Minsky Sender The Cage and The Holocaust Lady, Carol Matas Daniel’s Story, Gudrun Pausewang, The Final Journey, John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Doris Orgel, The Devil in Vienna, Jane Yolen, The Devil’s Arithmetic and Briar Rose. There will also be some handouts helpful to teachers and librarians.



o        Early responses, before “the Holocaust.”  Hersey, Uris, and others.

o        Priority of testimony and its relation to fiction.  Elie Wiesel and others.


The problem of authenticity and hoaxes.  Kosinski, Wilkomirski and others.

o        The Americanization of the Holocaust.  Anne Frank’s Diary and others.

o        Second-generation approaches.  Philip Roth, Thane Rosenbaum, and others.

Eric Sundquist will discuss the evolution of Holocaust literature, particularly from the American perspective, from the immediate aftermath of the war through late-twentieth-century responses by those of the second generation, including children of survivors.  Issues to consider include the priority of testimony and its relation to fiction; the problem of authenticity and hoaxes; the “Americanization” of the Holocaust; and the self-reflexive and sometimes postmodern strategies of some second-generation writers.


II. Holocaust Literature as Part of the Curriculum in Elementary, Middle,  

     and High School: Lisa Silverman, Talma Shultz, and Adaire Klein



Lisa Silverman has prepared an extensive annotated bibliography of illustrated books dealing with the Holocaust and will present a PowerPoint presentation examining the good and not-so-good literature of the genre. Grade appropriateness and literary value will be discussed.




3:30 – 4:00                  Autograph Party and Dessert




Please visit our Jewish Children’s Literature Marketplace and the Museum of Tolerance Gift Shop!





This conference has been made possible through the generous donations of Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library, The Association of Jewish Libraries , the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance, UCLA Department of Jewish Studies, and the authors, professors, and editors who have contributed their time and expertise.



**Manuscript Consultations available**

Posted in: Uncategorized
Last Sunday I attended the Once Upon a World Award ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance. This award is funded by Sonia and Lloyd Levitin and presented through the Museum of Tolerance to promote literature for children and teens that exemplify courage, tolerance, and understanding. This year the two award winners were Gretchen Woelfle for her biography Jeanette Rankin:Political Pioneer and Ellie Crowe for her picture book Surfer of the Century: Duke Kahanamoku  On Monday, fourth grade students from two local elementary schools participated in a video conference with the author and a school in Hawaii to talk about Duke . On Tuesday, two high school classes video-conferenced with the author and a school in Missoula, Montana where Jeanette Rankin was from. What a great experience for all!

It seemed especially appropriate to be discussing Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to Congress (even before women were granted the right to vote in the greater United States) on a day when the first African American was elected President.


Susan Dubin, President

Association of Jewish Libraries
Posted in: Uncategorized
Heidi Estrin, Association of Jewish Libraries' Public Relations Chair has issued the following press release:

                         NEWS RELEASE


November, 2008 

The Association of Jewish Libraries has released its new "Israel@60" suggested reading list, with over thirty titles on Israel for adults and children. The list includes fiction and non-fiction, and offers a brief description of each book. Websites and videos on Israel for adults and children are listed as well.The Israel@60 reading list is available in pdf format on the Association of Jewish Libraries website at"Books about Israel are written from so many points of view, some friendly, some not," said Susan Dubin, President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. "With the sixtieth birthday of the state of Israel being celebrated this year, we felt the time was right to showcase books with a positive view of the country's history and achievements."

The Israel@60 reading list was compiled by Association of Jewish Libraries member Andrea Rapp, librarian at the Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, and an expert on the topic of Israel. A Judaica librarian for over twenty years, Andrea holds a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in History from Northwestern University, and a Master's in Library Science from the University of Minnesota. Her article on  Israel-related literature, "Lies in the Library," was published in Reform Jewish Magazine (summer 2005).

This is an outstanding resource to learn more about Israel!


Susan Dubin

AJL President

Posted in: Uncategorized
 For immediate release--November, 2008



Author talks, lectures on Jewish literature, panel discussions, and workshops are among the offerings of the newly launched Association of Jewish Libraries Podcast. Available at, the program provides audio that enhances and enriches the listener's appreciation of Jewish book culture.


The podcast will include material recorded at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention, as well as recordings of Jewish literary events across North America. A wide range of topics will be covered, from the academic to the hands-on, from children's literature to technology.


"Jews are book lovers, and Jewish librarians even more so," says Susan Dubin, President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. "The AJL Podcast gives us a way to share our enthusiasm with others, without geographical or scheduling restrictions. Now everyone can learn and enjoy!"


New podcast episodes will be posted every few weeks. Listeners can hear the show online at, subscribe via iTunes or other feed readers (using the feed, receive episodes by email via FeedBlitz, or listen by phone at (651) 925-2538.


To celebrate the launch of the podcast, AJL is offering a Jewish book give-away. Forward this press release or post its contents on a blog or web page to be entered into a drawing for five Jewish interest books from Hachette Book Group. Be sure to CC on any forwarded messages or to email us about any posts. Complete contest rules and information about the give-away titles can be seen at - click on the Contest page in the sidebar. Deadline for entry is December 12, 2008.


Posted in: Uncategorized

For the last week in August and the first two weeks of September I was visiting Turkey. While there, I managed to explore several ancient sites of famous libraries. Here I am at Pergamon, where the second largest library of the ancient world once stood. The library once rivaled the famous collection in Alexandria with over 200,000 volumes. It is said that Egypt stopped sending papyrus to Pergamon to keep the library from growing. The people in Pergamon met this challenge by inventing parchment to write on!

 The picture below is of the beautiful library in Ephesus. It was three stories high with a two story tall reading room! At its height, it contained 12,000 scrolls. Scrolls were kept in temperature controlled cupboards to preserve them. Although the card catalog is not still in existence :), historians tell us that the scrolls were organized by subject for easy retrieval.



Unfortunately, I did not get to see any Jewish libraries while there. There are still Jewish communities in Turkey (most Jews live around Istanbul), and Turkey has good trade relations with Israel. Historically, Turkey has provided a safe haven for Jews, offering sanctuary after the expulsion from Spain and during the Holocaust. Although most of the population are Muslims, Turkey's government is still a secular democracy. I found the people that we met to be very friendly and easy to talk to. It was definitely a marvelous trip!

Wishing everyone a joyous Sukkot,

Susan Dubin

AJL President
Posted in: Trips
Right after returning from the AJL Convention, I headed out to Mickey Mouse Land  (Anaheim, California) to attend ALA. I spent all day on Friday at the Library Advocacy Workshop . It was very valuable even though much of the information had to do with influencing state and local governments to fund public and school libraries. There were some good suggestions for fundraising and a few good lists of how to present your case about the need for libraries and librarians. The AJL Convention also had a workshop on Valuing Libraries given by Joanne Roukens. If a chapter would like to bring Joanne Roukens to present a regional workshop, they should contact me to arrange it. It is well worthwhile!

I also spent time visiting the exhibits and speaking to some of the vendors about attending the AJL Convention next year in Chicago as well as trying to set up some agreements for AJL members to get discounts. More on that as agreements are worked out! For now, AJL members can get discounts from KarBenand Pitspopany Publishers.

'Til Next Time,

Susan Dubin, AJL President
Posted in: Uncategorized
The Chicago Convention Committee has arranged for Mrs. Barbara Schneider-Kempf, the Director General of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preuischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library- Prussian Cultural Heritage), to address the AJL membership about an ongoing project of the Berlin Library to identify and find the owners of many books that were taken from Jewish homes and libraries during the Holocaust. According to an article in Der Welt that was cited by AJL Past-President Phil Miller, the Berlin Library holds up to as many as 150,000 books suspected of being stolen from Jewish owners and others persecuted by the Nazis. The Library has identified some of the former owners and returned books that were taken from Arthur Rubinstein and Leo Baeck to their legacies. Mrs, Schneider-Kempf will speak about the project to identify the books and their owners and tell AJL members how they can help as librarians.

The AJL Convention will be held in Chicago, July 5-8, 2009, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. It is an event open to all 1100 AJL members and others interested in Judaica Librarianship. See the Association of Jewish Libraries web page for more information.
Posted in: Events
One of our members from Argentina, Rita Saccal of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano, just got back from the VII Convention of the RLIT (Red Latinoamericana de Informacion Teologica - Latin American Network of Theological Information) in Paraguay where she was the only Jewish librarian. Because of her input, for the first time in the history of this Red de Informacion Teologica (Network of Theological Information), to add Judaica in the Theological Librarianship Studies. She even taught the Convention participants to say the "Ha-Motzi" before meals! Many thanks, Rita, for introducing Judaic librarianship to this important South American organization.

This weekend, Vice President/President-Elect David Hirsch and I will be visiting Seattle to meet with the 2010 Convention committee and to check out the hotels we are considering for the Convention. While there, I will speak to a group at the Seattle Public Library Northeast Branch about the importance of libraries in our society and the role of librarians in building bridges with books and libraries. If you know anyone in the Seattle area, please invite them to attend!

'Til next time,

Susan Dubin

AJL President
Posted in: Uncategorized

Canadian Flag   Happy Canada Day to all AJL Canadian Members!

Many of our AJL members hail from our Northern neighbor. In fact, our current School, Synagogue, and Center Division President is from Bialik Hebrew Day School near Montreal. We have been fortunate to have several of our annual conventions in Canada. Most recently, we travelled to Toronto during the height of the SARS scare. Despite the news media hype, those of us who attended the Convention in 2003 had a marvelous time, completely germ-free.

We are just starting to plan our 2011 Convention in Montreal. If you live near there, please volunteer to help or join us for l'event fantastique!

'Til next time,

Susan Dubin, AJL President

Posted in: Uncategorized

Hi! I am Susan Dubin, President of The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), and we are "The People of the Books." I just came back from our annual convention. This year we met in Cleveland at the Cleveland Marriott East, with some of the friendliest and most helpful hotel staffs I have ever known. The Cleveland chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries organized the convention and provided learning, entertainment, and comraderie beyond excellent. Many of the sessions were recorded for podcasting and will be available soon on our website at . In the meantime, you can read thoughts and observations from some of the convention attendees as well as some photos of the event at the 2008 AJL Convention Blog. Check it out! Nothing replaces the excitement of meeting old and new friends and being able to network in person, however.

The tone for the Convention was set by the keynote address by Dr. Ellen Frankel, CEO of the Jewish Publication Society. Dr. Frankel is a well-known author and publisher. She gave an overview of the history of Jewish publishing in the United Sates and left us with many words of wisdom.

One of the highlights of the Convention was a workshop on library advocacy. Unfortunately, libraries are very much undervalued in our society and several libraries have closed or reduced their services due to budget cuts. This workshop helped librarians to become their own best advocates and gave very practical tips on how to do that. The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) plans to offer this program to chapters or regions around the country as a way of supporting those members who are being faced with budget cuts or lay-offs.

Another amazing event was the post-convention 40th anniversary celebration of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. This one-day workshop brought together authors, illustrators and publishers to reflect on the history of Jewish literature for children and speculate about future trends. One of the panels I attended on teen literature featured three prominent authors -- Sonia Levitin, Carol Matas, and Margo Rabb -- and had attendees in tears over the authors' personal stories. The Newbery Medalist and Sydney Taylor Book Award-winning author Sid Fleischman was the luncheon keynote speaker.

Hopefully you will join us next year when we go to Chicago!

'Til next time,

Susan Dubin

Posted in: Uncategorized
Have you ever been asked why the library should be part of the school curriculum? At the California School Library Association Conference held this past November, Doug Achterman gave a presentation on the latest study to confirm the relationship between school libraries and student achievement. Here is a quote from his email to the calib list serv:

" Here are some of the highlights from the new California study on the relationship between school libraries and student achievement:

--At the elementary, middle school and high school levels, the presence of certificated teacher librarians was significantly related to higher STAR test scores.

--At the secondary level, the more total library staff (certificated and classified), the higher the STAR test scores tended to be, even when controlling for school and socio-economic conditions.

--At all three levels, STAR scores were significantly related to the number of services a library staff provided. More services were a good predictor of higher test scores, even when controlling for school and socio-economic conditions.

--At all three levels, both certificated library staffing and total library staffing were significantly related to the number of services the library program offered. The more staffing, the more services.

You can download a copy of the presentation at"

Have you some statistics about how your library has affected learning? An anecdote? Please share them with me, so we can start to gather our own information about the unquestionable value of libraries and librarians!

Susan Dubin

Association of Jewish Libraries


Posted in: Uncategorized

Page 10 of 10First   Previous   5  6  7  8  9  [10]  Next   Last