Association of Jewish Libraries 52nd Annual Conference

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) will hold its 52nd annual conference entitled “The Sky’s the Limit: The Next Generation of Judaica Librarianship” from June 19-21, 2017.  Librarians, archivists, scholars, educators, authors, and others are all welcome.

Presenters and topics to be announced.

The 2017 conference will have a special focus on the international nature of AJL and the future of Judaica Librarianship.

Interested? Know someone who might be? More info can be found at www.jewishlibraries.org.

Please share this information with interested parties. If you know of any other ways we can share this information with the community, please contact me at [email protected]

“The Archive Thief” Saved Rare Jewish Books During WWII

On Thursday, I attended a fascinating lecture at Drexel’s Judaic Studies department. The guest speaker was Lisa Moses Leff, whose new book, The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust, is about Zosa Szajkowski, who single-mindedly rescued Jewish books and documents from Germany and France, as an immigrant American GI paratrooper during WWII.

Szajkowski brazenly used the U.S. Army free courier service to ship his parcels back — some two or three in a day — to New York, the last remaining branch of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He continued to steal Jewish documents after the war and he financed his own scholarship by selling them piecemeal to Jewish institutions in the United States and Israel; the two top buyers were the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College. He was eventually caught red-handed and he committed suicide in 1978.

When Dr. Leff, Associate Professor at American University, interviewed the elderly librarians who’d acquired the documents, knowing of their sketchy provenance, she found that they were proud of helping to rescue Jewish written material from the Nazis. However, some of the items were taken from institutions that survived the war, and there remain big gaps in the European archives. Everyone knew of Szajkowski in the library and archive community, but he was never publically named.

Ironically, the stolen documents have gained better care, having been catalogued and made available for scholarship. Indeed, when one librarian was asked about giving back the documents, he retorted that they — the European institutions — should pay for all the years of care and storage! Zosa Szajkowski, with his looting and his scholarship, singlehandedly established the field of Jewish historical research, using documents of ordinary Jews. So, do you think the end justifies the means?

First Online Library For Jewish Schools In The United States

Behrman House, the leading publisher of textbooks and digital learning materials for Jewish religious schools in North America, has entered a collaborative agreement with Israel’s Center for Educational Technology (CET). The partnership will bring a first-of-its-kind online library to Jewish schools in the United States, giving students and educators access to both companies’ vast repository of educational offerings. David Behrman, Behrman House president and publisher, said:

This is a giant step forward in our mission to reshape Hebrew education for a younger generation. The array of learning materials CET brings to us from Israel is endless, and its Kotar online platform provides that content in an immediate, easy to access format.

More after the jump.
In April 2010, CET launched its Kotar digital platform, to enable Jewish schools, institutions and communities abroad to access English and Hebrew resources fast, simply and in a user-friendly manner. The Kotar platform allows students to comment and share their ideas with teachers, other students and at home with their families. Today it receives hundreds of thousands hits per month, with tens of thousands of Israeli pupils using its textbooks on a daily basis. In addition to licensing the Kotar platform for North American religious schools, Behrman House will also develop curricular materials using the resources of CET’s Lexicon of Jewish Culture and Judaism, a vast repository of text materials, videos, and other educational materials, which CET will translate and Behrman House will adapt for the North American market.

CET CEO Gila Ben-Har commented:

As part of CET’s expansion strategy into markets outside Israel, we welcome the partnership with Behrman House and are proud to bring the innovation of digital books to Jewish schools, educators, and students throughout North America.