Jewish Libraries Around The World

rare books

Ostrow Library was selected by the Association of Jewish Libraries to be one of the first handful of libraries featured on their Jewish Libraries Around the World site.


Welcome to the Libraries of the American Jewish University! We are proud to serve all AJU students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the general and scholarly community. Our mission is to support learning, research, and personal enrichment, in an inclusive, welcoming environment

The Ostrow Academic Library has a constantly growing curriculum and research-directed collection, containing approximately 284,000 print and e-book titles, 31,000 print and e-journal titles, rich electronic resources, DVDs, CDs,

and microfilm. We have an especially rich collection in Jewish Studies and related fields, and a superb Yizkor book collection as well.

With free Wi-Fi, 8 public use computers, study rooms, carrels, couches, easy chairs, and large tables, the library is a comfortable place to study, research a topic of interest, and enjoy leisure time. Please ask for assistance in using the library’s abundant and varied resources. Our reference librarian and staff are happy to help you. 

The Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center, a gift of Peter and Janine Lowy, is home to the Maslan Bible Collection and this unusual assemblage of exceptional volumes includes approximately 3,600 Bibles, some dating back almost to the inception of the printing press. This collection also features bible translations representing most of the written languages of the world, as well as the Kalman-Friedman Collection of Italian Judaica.

Most of the volumes you see within the Rare Book Center are the nearly 3,600 rare and unique bibles and other sacred works of the Maslan Bible Collection. This collection also features bible translations representing most of the written languages of the world.  This collection began when a Seattle attorney, Ben Maslan, asked at the last moment to address the local bar association on biblical versus secular law. He went out to buy a bible in a used bookstore to use for his research and he was hit by the collecting bug. He would make hunting for bibles a family activity, with the youngest child accompanying him asking store owners “You wouldn’t happen to have a slightly used Gutenberg?” The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed on a printing press in 1454!

Ostrow Library received from the old Jewish Community Library a large collection of various versions of Pirkei Avot–Ethics of the Fathers. This was collected by Rabbi Solomon M. Neches of Los Angeles’ Breed Street Shul. This collection has titles from 5 continents spanning 500 years. It also includes 13 binders of his manuscript of a biblical lexicon. Oddly enough, the tapestries in the old AJU sanctuary based on themes from Pirkei Avot made by the artist Phil Ratner were hung in the very spot of the current rare book center. The tapestries are now at the back of the main library.

Another major section of the collection is that of Rabbi Kalman Friedmann, former Chief Rabbi of Florence, Italy. Most of the Italian Jewish community and its 2000 year history vanished after the Holocaust. Rabbi Friedmann brought his collection of rare books and unique ephemera to AJU where he taught in his later years.

Rabbi Emil Klein saved several works of Judaica from small deserted synagogues in France after the first World War. Then in World War II he was interred in a camp near his home, he brazenly went to the Nazi commander to “ask for some blankets” for the inmates. While at the headquarters, which was in what had been Rabbi Klein’s home, he asked to have some Hebrew books to read. The Commandant said that they were filthy Jewish books and threw them out the window. Rabbi Klein left quietly, rescued the books a second time and then buried them in a neighbor’s back yard, a true righteous Gentile.

Another Holocaust related story is that of the Survivor’s Talmud printed by the U.S. Army. Two rabbis who had survived the Holocaust thought that by resuming their habit of daily study, Jews in the DP camps would get back to some semblance of normality. They made their request to a U.S. Army chaplain. The frontispiece engraved by one of the survivors captures the transition from Holocaust to the rebirth of Eretz Yisrael. You can learn more about this work from the recording of a AJU’sB’yachad Platform From Darkness to a Great Light event with Jackie Ben-Efraim, Special Collections Librarian at Ostrow Library.

The Werner Frank Collection has some lovely volumes from the 19th century, including a very rare edition of the Haggadah from Leipzig can be found in the Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center. The vast majority of the collection consists of genealogy resources and shtetl maps. These archival items are stored in the Phoebe and Werner Frank Family Room, along with mementos from the Frank Family home in Eppingham, Germany during the interwar period.

A small but important collection was donated to Ostrow Library by a long time library volunteer, Alex Lauterbach. The highlight of the Lauterbach-Marr Collection is a 1499 edition of the complete works of Josephus, allowing the Lowy-Winkler to display this finely rebound incunabula. Incunabula are books printed at the cradle of printing from 1455 – 1500.

On Site Archives

David L. Lieber Papers

Dr. David L. Lieber was the first president of UJ/AJU and an eminent biblical scholar. He edited the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary published by the Rabbinical Assembly of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The David L. Lieber Papers is a collection of thousands of documents, subject files, index cards, and media all created or gathered by Dr. Lieber throughout his life. The materials include publications, addresses, speeches, writings, correspondence, teaching materials and school papers. Dr. Lieber collected and created quotes, articles, bibliographies, and notes covering a vast amount of subjects, including Judaism, ethics, philosophy, religion, Israel, education and much more. The collection provides insight into Dr. Lieber’s life, his work, research and vast knowledge. For access please contact library [at]

Dr. Louis Shub Documentation Center

The Louis Shub Documentation Center at the American Jewish University is a collection of thousands of articles from various newspapers and periodicals covering a range of subjects. Gathered by Dr. Shub, the former library director of the University of Judaism, the collection was used by students to research subjects such as Israeli and Jewish figures, Foreign Policy, Global Jewish Communities, Israel, the Middle East and many other issues and subjects. The importance of this collection is the juxtaposing of articles from major papers with those of small local papers both covering the same event. For access please contact library [at]

Online Archives

The American Jewish University Digital Archive includes photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera that document the history of the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute which merged to become American Jewish University in 2007, depicting people, places and events at both campuses. These photographs include great Jewish thinkers who founded AJU and were involved with its growth over the years. The creation of both institutions was made possible by philanthropists to whom we owe the building of University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. Items digitized represent a fraction of the archived material housed at both the Familian Campus and Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University. Consult the library for further information.

Our History

The University’s library had a modest beginning. Its quality and content were due to the dedication and efforts of one person, Dr. Louis Shub, who became its first director in 1954. The Jewish Theological Seminary transferred to its West Coast branch two collections. These were mostly rabbinic books, including commentaries on the Bible, and were considered a good basic library in Judaica.

In the University’s first home on Ardmore Avenue, the library was housed in the dining room, which had several beautiful paneled wood bookcases fronted with glass doors, where the books were kept under lock and key.

The library did not begin to grow until the move to Sunset Boulevard. Here the library was initially housed in what had been a basketball court on the second floor. Soon the library was expanded into the former handball courts as well. Dr. Shub called it “the victory of reading room and Judaism over Hellenism” – this from an avid sports fan!

The library expanded even more when the University of Judaism, which was to become American Jewish University moved to the Familian Campus off of Mulholland Drive.  A unique feature in the new library was the Documentation Center which dealt with contemporary Jewish affairs. Dr. Shub’s hobby was to rise early in the morning, read newspapers and periodicals from all over the world, then place photocopies in files with nearly 3000 different classifications. The Shub Documentation still exists today in a digital format, which is accessible only from the library.

In 2009, Ostrow LIbrary at American Jewish University merged with the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles. A separate reading room was created to house a community focused collection. Southern California residents could now hold AJU library cards and enjoy circulation privileges.