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Judaic Audio Lectures, Panel Discussions, Author Talks, Workshops & More

The AJL Podcast brings you the best talks on Jewish literature and the Jewish library world, with respected experts and popular authors. Please check back periodically, as new lectures will be added to the series.


You can subscribe to the AJL Podcast via iTunes or by entering http://feeds.feedburner.com/ajlpodcast into your favorite feed reader. You can also receive new posts via email. Or listen to the latest episode by phone at (651) 925-2538.


Use the links on the left to select a category of interest or to use our index.


Abraham Joshua Heschel, a scholar, writer and theologian, is widely recognized as one of the most influential Jewish spiritual leaders of the 20th century. The Heschel archive consists of 85 boxes containing manuscripts, correspondence, publications, documents and photographs spanning five decades and at least four languages. Included among the papers are notes and drafts for nearly all of Heschel's published works, as well as extensive correspondence with some of the leading religious figures of his time, such as Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The papers also contain extensive documentation on Heschel's lifelong commitment to social justice, including planning documents, correspondence with organizers, speeches, and even hate mail. In the presentation, Rachel introduces Heschel's life and work, his writings and his religious and social activity as it is revealed through his personal archive. She presents images of a variety of items from the archive and discusses the challenges and discoveries experienced in processing this outstanding collection as it is being prepared for scholars and researchers.

Presented by Rachel Ariel at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.


Posted in: RAS

The National Library of Israel (NLI) continues to make major progress towards its goal of being a modern national library for both the State of Israel and the Jewish people. During the past year, the library has introduced a new user interface to its bibliographic records, enabled multi-alphabet searching (both persons and subjects), as well as preparing for the changes in national bibliographic standards related to RDA. The library has created and staffed a department of educational services which offers many options to all levels of users, from school children to researchers. Construction f the new building, on a site opposite the Knesset, will begin soon. On the international scene, the Library is taking an active part in the Europeana digital initiative and planning a cooperative project of scanning Hebrew manuscripts worldwide. This session presents these and additional ongoing and planned projects.

Presented by Marina Goldsmith and Elhanan Adler at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.


Posted in: RAS

This session provides a description and overview of collections of synagogue archives at Yeshiva University, with an emphasis on describing and providing examples of different types of records which typically comprise synagogue archives. There will be discussion of the history of synagogues, chiefly in New York City (plus a small taste of the large state of Texas), why it is important to collect synagogue records, and different aspects of acquiring synagogue records.

Presented by Shulamith Berger at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Over seven years in the making, the Gershwind-Bennett Isaac Leeser Digitization Project uses digital technologies to make accessible on-line the physically dispersed corpus of over 2,100 handwritten letters, monograph and serial publications, as well as print material related to Isaac Leeser. Isaac Leeser (1806-1868) was an architect of 19th century American Jewish life, editor of the Occident, the first American Jewish monthly periodical, the founder of the first American Jewish publication society and of Maimonides College, the nation's first rabbinical seminary. The Leeser corpus is the first of what we hope will be a continuing series of such initiatives within the framework of the Jesselson-Kaplan American Genizah Project, an international initiative to integrate digital technologies into the way we study early American Jewry. Its primary goal is to create an open access digital repository or "genizah" of physically dispersed primary sources that document the development of Jewish life in the western hemisphere form the 16th-19th centuries.

Presented by Arthur Kiron at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

This paper focuses on the ongoing research being carried out by Rebecca Jefferson on the history of the Cairo Genizah manuscript collections. Since 2008, Jefferson has been examining letters and documents  held in various libraries around the world to uncover the story behind the discovery of the Cairo Genizah. These archives have revealed fascinating tidbits about the main protagonists, Solomon Schechter, Elkan Nathan Adler and Adolf Neubauer, as well as the back story of a shadowy nobleman, Count Riamo d'Hulst. Jefferson will outline the discoveries so far, providing examples from previously unseen letters, and she will discuss the challenges of this research and the problems ahead. The recording starts with the session already in progress.

Presented by Rebecca Jefferson at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

The evolution of Jewish medieval classification of library collections evolved over the Tannaitic (70vCE to 200 CE), Amoraic (200-500 CE), Savoraim (500-600 CE), Geonic (600-900 CE), Rishonim (900-1450 CE), Achronim (1450-Shoah) periods as the genres of Jewish knowledge expanded and the world of Jewish knowledge developed in an oral tradition that later was set down. Mordechai Breuer, Ephraim Kanarfogel, Isadore Twersky, Adin Steinsaltz, and Nathan Drazin have shown that this evolution of the Jewish library within the context of Jewish educational "institutions," such as the medieval Yeshivot, Rabbinic Academies, Bate Midrash, Synagogues, and self-regulating Jewish Communal government (kehilah), allowed for the classification and organization of manuscripts and sefarim to remain internally coherent.

Presented by David Levy at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

When new library initiatives were paired with space limitations, staff and librarians in the Cataloging and Metadata Center at UCLA became concerned about their growing backlogs, especially those in non-Roman scripts. Sharon Benamou was appointed chair of a group charged to develop new workflows and methods to eliminate these backlogs. The speaker discusses the specific methods chosen for different historic backlogs held in the department, including Southeast Asian, the general backlog and our newest project, the Cummings Collection of Hebraica and Judaica.

Presented by Sharon Benamou at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

Under Library of Congress rules, the Law Library, rather than the Hebraic section's reading room, gets all materials pertaining to the Israeli legal system, the legal status of Jews regardless of place, and works on Mishpat Ivri (aspects of halacha addressing subjects that western legal scholars consider to be "law" rather than "religion"). These materials are often of interest to Judaica scholars and are often collected by libraries specializing in Jewish materials. However, since LC considers them to be "law," they are cataloged according to the norms for cataloging legal materials rather than Judaica.

Presented by Aaron Kuperman at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

Get creative! Embrace technology in your library and learn about 21st entury tools that can be used by students, teachers, and librarians. Learn about useful tech tools to help promote, collaborate, and share with your faculty, parents, community, and the world. Tools to be discussed include Prezi, Livebinders, Mighty Bell, Smore, Flip Snack, Symbaloo, Google Apps and more. See Jennifer's blog for links to the tools mentioned in her presentation at http://www.jennifershaferwyatt.com/2013/06/tech-tools-for-collaboration-promotion.html.

Presented by Jennifer Shafer Wyatt at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Representatives from the Israel and Judaica Section at the Library of Congress discuss developments in acquisitions and cataloging during the past year, including a presentation by Joan Biella on progress in RDA implementation as it relates to Hebraica and Judaica cataloging.

Presented by Aaron Taub, Joan Biella, Marina Korenberg, Gail Shirazi, Galina Teverovsky, and Aaron Kuperman at the  2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.


Posted in: RAS

While doing research at the Jacob Rader Marcus archive in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kay Goldman discovered the memoir of entrepreneur Henry Mayer. After reading it, she realized it was the memoir of Henry's wife, Rebecca. This remarkable woman who married at fifteen and traveled as the lone woman down the Santa Fe Trail deserved to have her story told. Thus, Kay began to verify the story Rebecca told. First she verified simple facts such as the date her mother arrived in the United States. However, she also uncovered information the family never knew - the fact that her father owned slaves.

Presented by Kay Goldman at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

This session is dedicated to the memory of Bernard Rapoport, 1917-2012, a Texas Jew who made great contributions in many areas including education in the US and Israel; local and national politics; philanthropy, general and Jewish in the US and Israel; and libraries. It is hard to find an event in history in which Jews, broadly defined, did not participate. The early history of Texas, from the first colonization in the 1500's until the war against Mexico in 1836 which resulted in Texas independence, was no exception. This presentation discusses the most notable contributions made by Jews during that period of history.

Presented by Yaakov Aronson at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

In this session, Jackie Ben-Efraim shares resources to help you prepare an emergency plan for your library and fill out a one page document to share with fellow staff members so that they have a plan of action beforehand.

Presented by Jackie Ben-Efraim at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Join EBSCO's Tim Heiges for an informative discussion on how EBSCO can help you maximize teh value and accessiblity of your library collection with EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS).

Presented by Tim Heiges at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

Ephemera have a storied and stormy history in archives and special collections: they live in a space between printed, non-unique material and unique materials, and pose preservation challenges for librarians and archivists. yet ephemera are among the most interesting materials in libraries and archives. As researchers start to utilize ephemera, catalogers must address the need for using ephemera. This presentation demonstrates challenges facing catalogers of ephemera in all types of institutions, including Judaic collections, and offers some possible solutions. While few standards are offered to catalogers, methods exist to allow users access to collections.

Presented by Dina Herbert at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

The Posen Library is collecting more than 3,000 years of Jewish cultural artifacts, texts, and paintings, selected by more than 120 internationally recognized scholars. One volume, covering the contemporary period, was published in 2012. This presentation discusses the philosophies, choices, and overviews of the forthcoming volumes. Attention is given to how librarians and teachers might make use of both the paper editions and the planned digital site.

Presented by Joyce Rappaport at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Since its origins as the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) has been a leader in the documentation and interpretation of Jewish history in the American South. Josh Parshall, ISJL oral historian, will discuss the history and mission of the organization, including the Online Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities - a unique resource for learning about Jewish history in the region - and his own work conducting oral history research in Southern communities. the session will include video excerpts from the ISJL collection and tips for conducting and archiving your own oral history interviews.

Presented by Josh Parshall at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Only through knowledge and understanding can another Holocaust be prevented. Dr. Babaknia's four volume work on the Holocaust in Farsi is a 2013 AJL Judaica Reference Award Honorable Mention winner.

Presented by Dr. Ardashir Babaknia at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

The "Kitab-i Qissah'namah-i Hizaro Yik Shab" is a Judeo-Persian book published in 1915 in Kokand, Uzbekistan. Princeton University Library recently acquired volume two. Yaari has no record of it, and it seems not to be represented in any other library. The book is a translation or transliteration of stories from the "Thousand and One Nights," a cultural artifact which is not indigenous to Persian, Jewish or Uzbek culture. This paper considers the conditions that made this most unlikely book possible.

Presented by James Weinberger at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

Two related sessions in one podcast recording:

Strategic Planning for AJL: Process, Methods, Timeline and Members' Participation

the world of libraries is experiencing rapid changes in technology, modes of access, costs of delivery and professional training. The world of Judaica Librarianship is also affected by the ways in which Jewish institutions change, redefine themselves, allocate resources, and reach out to constituents. The AJL has been in a state of flux over the last few years, reflecting these realities, and in order to survive and thrive, we have embarked on a strategic planning process. The process entails a review of AJL's vision, mission and all its operations, and aims to create an effective plan of action that will ensure the survival and promote the growth of the association. This presentation describes the process that begain in January 2013, what was accomplished up until June 2013, and plans for the next six months.

Presented by Dr. Yaffa Weisman at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.


What AJL Can Learn from Other Professional Organizations

These are challenging times for Judaica librarians and for AJL, but we're not alone. How are other professional library organizations dealing with the sluggish economy,membership drop-off, conferences and other issues? This panel discussion features AJL members who are active in other library organizations who will share their insights.

Presented by David Hirsch, Elliot H. Gertel and Sharon Benamou at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

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