Jewish Virtual Library (JVL)

Custom & Craft
Los Angeles, California United States
Leadership team

Eileen Levinson, Founder & Creative Director
Wendy Jackler, Program Manager

Organization website
Prize category
5+ years
Target audience
College Students

The JVL reaches an average of nearly 1 million visitors of all ages each month from more than 200 countries. The JVL provides informative content on every subject from anti-Semitism to Zionism. Our goal is to be a one-stop shop where visitors can find the answer to their questions on these topics. AICE’s library is now recognized as the first stop for finding those answers. This is one reason nearly 7,000 other sites have links to the JVL. To date, we have archived approximately 25,000 articles and documents and more than 10,000 photographs, charts, maps and other graphics.

What Jewish wisdom do you use in your work?

US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and other ministries)
Center for Cultural Judaism
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
The Pedagogic Center
New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
Medici Archive Project
The Library of Congress
The Terrorism Research Center
The Nizkor Project
Jewish Women's Archive
Yad Vashem
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
Project Judaica Foundation
Israel Democracy Institute
The Tanakh and Talmud

How does your program work to make that wisdom accessible and directly applicable to your audience's lives?

We have links to nearly 7,000 other sites.
We get regular feedback from users.
We update the site daily and provide material relevant to current events.
We monitor the most popular pages and ensure that we have those subjects covered and enhance them as needed.
Much of the site contains specific practical information such as entries on the Jewish holidays, Jewish rituals, recipes, and Jewish communities and sites around the world.

What impact has your program had on your participants?

The best measurement is probably the growth in use of the site as we've gone from a few thousand visitors when it started in 1997 to nearly 1 million per month.
If you ask just about anyone, especially students, if they are familiar with the JVL, they will probably say yes.
We are told by students, educators, professors and others that they use our site all the time.
One professor told us the JVL is the only website he will allow his students to cite because he knows the information is factual and reliable.
Another teacher told us: , “The JVL is the go-to source my students use for fact-based research pertaining to Judaism, Israel, and the Holocaust.”

What have you learned about applied Jewish wisdom that contributes to your success?

One thing we have learned is that too many people are uninformed or ill-informed and they need a reliable source where they can educate themselves.

We have learned that our information can be used to help people better understand the politics, history and culture of Israel so they have the knowledge they need to be advocates.

We have learned there is a great thirst for information on the topics we cover and, sometimes, we are surprised by what is of greatest interest in any given month. We make sure that we have material to respond to their interests.

To give two examples:
For the first few years the JVL was online, the two most frequently asked questions were: "Was Hitler Jewish?" and "Why do Jews put stones on graves?" We have entries that answer both questions.

It is also important to remember that when we started the JVL in 1997, there was very little information online, what was there was hard to find and not very good. Over the years we have built up a library with a shoestring staff that has more than 25,000 entries and 10,000 maps, photos and other graphics. It's easy to take for granted today the availability of information online, but that was not always true. Even today, we allow visitors to find most, if not all of what they are looking for without having to surf all over the web. There are plenty of sites that focus on a particular topic, but none that can match the comprehensiveness of the JVL (except Wikipedia, which is so unreliable teachers do not allow students to use it).