Thursday, November 01, 2018

Love Your Neighbor: An AJL Book List Series


In response to the anti-Semitic domestic terrorism that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA last Saturday, my friends and I have done what librarians do: we've turned to literature, not for explanations, but for solutions. After 100+ email messages back and forth, we've hammered out a cream-of-the-crop list of "window" books for youth, that we hope will build empathy and understanding in the hearts of non-Jewish readers.

There's no knowing whether books like these would have made a difference if read during the childhood of the Pittsburgh shooter, and we can't guarantee that reading them to today's kids will prevent future tragedy. But as the Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, tell us, we are not obligated to complete the work of combating anti-Semitism, but neither are we free to desist from it. We've got to do what we can. As librarians, we know that the right book can make a difference, especially when read during the formative years of childhood. 

My kidlit posse: myself, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Elissa Gershowitz, Marjorie Ingall, Rachel Kamin, Susan Kusel, Chava Pinchuck, and Lisa Silverman, have spent the last few days and nights bouncing titles off each other, fine tuning our message, and proof reading like crazy. And now, we are very proud to present the first in a series (because we had too much material for a single book list), "Love Your Neighbor: Standing Up For Each Other." Future entries in the series will cover Jewish diversity, synagogues and clergy, and cross-cultural friendship. We are open to suggestion for other themes that might be useful, keeping in mind that the target audience is NON-Jewish kids and teens. 

The series will be hosted on the Association of Jewish Libraries blog. Here's the first book list: Standing Up For Each Other. Please share it as widely as you can!



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