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Out of Zion Comes Forth Books: The Jerusalem International Book Fair
by Batsheva Pomerantz (Soferet 7)

It is not surprising that publishers of Jewish content books are based in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and the spiritual center of the Jewish nation - "the people of the book". Although based in Jerusalem, these publishers have their fingers on the pulse of the market of Jewish content books in North America where the majority of their publications are sold. Some of these publishers exhibited at the Jerusalem International Book Fair held in June.

Established in 1981, Gefen Publishing House is an English-language publisher with offices and distribution warehouses in NY and Jerusalem. Gefen publishes approximately 30 titles per year on a variety of Israeli and Jewish subjects including history, Holocaust, biographies, psychology, poetry, nature and art. Publisher Ilan Greenfield says that Gefen books can be read by any denomination.

Gefen books can sell anywhere from hundreds of copies to tens of thousands of copies. depending on the quality of the manuscript and its ability to sell, Gefen offers a range of ways towards assisting the author to finance the publication of the book.

Gefen Kidz for children's books is interested in topics about the holidays, the Holocaust and everyday life. According to Greenfield, Gefen is focusing more on children's books in the next three years.

Simcha Publishing Company was established in 1993 by Yaacov Peterseil of Jerusalem to fill a gap in the Jewish market in the United States. Simcha works with Pitspopany Press, a N.Y. company specializing in children's books on Jewish themes. Simcha's English-language books can be read by children from every spectrum of Judaism, according to Peterseil. Pitspopany publishes 10-15 titles a year. Currently, Simcha is not looking for children's manuscripts.

For books for adults, preferably non-fiction, Simcha publishes through Devora Publishing Company. Simcha co-publishes with the author titles that they feel can sell at least between 2,000-5,000 copies in the mainstream Jewish market.

Simcha's sales force of 30 people in the United States sell to general book chains, wholesalers, retailers and book fair companies. Distributors cover other places as well. Simcha provides all pre-press and printing services.

Urim Publications, now completing its fifth year, publishes Jewish classical and contemporary works, putting special interest in spiritual works, women and Judaism, Zionism, commentaries on the Bible, law and ethics. According to publisher Tzvi Mauer, its books often focus on interesting, thought-provoking issues presented in an accessible manner.

The children's division of Urim produces books with Jewish themes depicting everyday people, not necessarily Jewish. Its children's books are very Jewish, but not ritualistic. The children's books reflect values such as family, tzedaka and chessed. The editor for the children's books is Shari Greenspan. The books are accompanied by quality illustrations. Urim publishes books also in Hebrew.

Mazo Publishers is a new publisher that produces some of its titles on CDs complete with graphics. According to publisher Chaim Mazo this is suited for manuscripts with a small market. Various options exist for books on CDs that cannot be done with printed books. Mazo also publishes books in large lettered 18-point print as well as other books on Jewish themes, Israel and the Holocaust.

Contact information:

Gefen Publishing House:
Tel: 02-538-0247
Fax: 02-538-8423
US: Tel: 516-295-2805
US Fax: 516-295-2739
Email: ilan@gefenpublishing.com

Simcha Publishing Company
Tel: 02-563-7155
Fax: 02-563-7156
US: Tel: 1-800-232-2931
US Fax: 212-472-6253
Email: pitspop@netvision.net.il

Urim Publications
Tel: 02-679-7633
Fax: 02-679-7634
US: Tel: 718-972-5449
US Fax: 718-972-6307
Email: publisher@UrimPublications.com

Mazo Publishers
Tel: 067-294-565
Email: mazo@netvision.net.il

Batsheva Pomerantz of Jerusalem is a feature writer whose articles have been published in Horizons, Emunah Magazine, Stepping Stones, the Jerusalem Post and other publications. She is editor of the newsletter "Chosen People to the Chosen Land" on Aliya. It appears on www.ou.org/torah/tt


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