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One Book One Jewish Community

One Book, One Jewish Community was founded in 2006 to engage readers from across Greater Philadelphia in books that speak to diverse aspects of Jewish identity and community. This unique program was created at Jewish Outreach Partnership (now Jewish Learning Venture) by Debbie Leon, who currently leads programs for youth and supplemental education teachers at Gratz College. Gratz has led One Book since February 2019.

Each year, the One Book committee carefully selects a book to share across the Greater Philadelphia community. The year-long programming connected to the annual book selection gives thousands of individuals varied opportunities to learn about new Jewish authors; explore Jewish culture, and share the joy of reading with others in our community. A list of selections from past years can be found here


The One Book, One Jewish Community Book selection for 2019-2020:

cover and author of The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
(pictured above with Jane Eisner of Columbia University, an award-winning journalist and former editor of the Forward)

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she's destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never-ending.

Are you interested in hosting a One Book program or have an idea for one? Contact Lori Cohen at

Single Hero Image interior pages

Alice Hoffman siting for an interview about her book