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About the Library

Since the early 1950s, the Jewish Community Library has provided the Bay Area with free access to a large collection of materials illuminating the Jewish experience. The Library is open to all, regardless of background.

The Library’s main branch at 1835 Ellis Street in San Francisco’s Western Addition hosts the Western United States’ largest publicly accessible collection of Jewish-related materials. The Library Pushcart branch at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto offers a permanent collection onsite plus on-request access to all items housed in San Francisco.

The Library strives to cover the entire range of Jewish topics and perspectives, reflecting the diversity of the Jewish people and the Bay Area’s Jewish community.

The Library’s offerings include:

  • A physical collection of approximately 40,000 items 
  • A digital collection of more than 900 eBooks and audiobooks
  • Services to book clubs, including the popular Book Club in a Box program
  • One Bay One Book, a year-long conversation centered on a single book
  • A wide variety of in-person and virtual public programs featuring authors, creative artists, and thinkers.

The Library’s Print Collection

The Library’s collection covers the entire spectrum of the Jewish experience, ranging from art and literature to Talmud and contemporary commentary. You can search the catalog here. Notable areas of the collection include:

  • Hebrew Language and Literature
    Thousands of items, from ancient texts to the latest Israeli bestsellers. The Library also has hundreds of religious volumes in Hebrew, along with extensive resources for Hebrew language learners.

  • Yiddish
    Hundreds of works of Yiddish literature, with many available in English translation. The Library also hosts a large collection of Yiddish language films on DVD, the entire Sami Rohr Library of Recorded Yiddish Audio Books, and, for Yiddish language learners, an extensive range of textbooks and other resources.

  • Genealogy
    A large selection of resources to aid in family history research. These include reference guides to names and places from the Jewish past around the world, along with assorted books on diaspora communities that can provide important historical context.

  • Russian Language and Literature
    Hundreds of Jewish-related books in the Russian language, ranging from volumes on Russian Jewish history to Israeli literature translated into Russian.

  • Religious Texts
    A large range of biblical, rabbinic, and legal texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and English, as well as Torah commentaries from many perspectives.

  • Religious Resources 
    Resources to help with holiday observance, marking life cycle events, and keeping kosher.

  • Music
    An extensive collection of CDs, songbooks, and vintage sheet music reflecting Jewish musical traditions across the world.

  • Film
    An enormous selection of international fiction films and documentaries on DVD, many of which are unavailable for online streaming.