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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.


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


While most "law" books in Hebrew characters are either Jewish, or in recent years, Israeli law, there are some odd exceptions. These are books written in a Jewish language, probably Hebrew but perhaps Yiddish, on the non-Jews' legal system. Some reflect an author trying to inform the Jews of the non-Jews' laws that might recently have become applicable to them, or to discuss their impact in a language that was more familiar and perhaps allowed more freedom than writing in a language that could easily be read by the non-Jewish population. While these books may be important for studying legal history, they are largely inaccessible to mainstream legal scholars due to being in Hevbrew script, and the context would bwe hard to appreciate by Judaica scholars lacking legal training, though their very existence is perhaps an interesting source for studying how Jews related to the non-Jewish environment.

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

Posted in: RAS

This session explores select 20th and 21st century American publications for laypeople dealing with the observance of Jewish dietary laws, while highlighting various formats, developments and concerns.

Presented by Tina Weiss at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

The Broder singers (Yiddish: di Broder zinger) were the first professional, secular Yiddish performers, bringing Yiddish songs and short dramas into wine cellars, restaurants, and inns in Galicia, Romania and Russia, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and later overlapping with the early Yiddish theater. The Broder repertoire was both serious and comic, influenced by Chasidism on one hand and haskole (enlightenment) on the other. This lecture explores the personalities behind this legendary movement, their performance styles, and the (often murky) provenance and content of their repertoire.

Presented by Amanda Seigel at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Bryan Stone and Rabbi Jimmy Kessler gave the Opening Plenary for the 2013 AJL conference in Houston, TX on June 17, 2013. They described the history of Jewish life in Texas through the lens of myth and misconception. When the first Jewish communities began to emerge in the 1850's, immigrants were attracted in part by a Texas mythology that emphasized individual freedom and economic opportunity. In the 20th century, Texas retained its appeal as a place of mythic opportunity, as the Galveston Movement illustrates. Even today, myths persist about Texas Jewry. The speakers provide evidence and anecdotes to show that Texas is, and has been for more than 150 years, the setting for a thriving, self-identified, and spiritually rich - if a somewhat distinctive - Jewish community.


Presented by Bryan Stone and Rabbi Jimmy Kessler at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

In this 150th year commemoration of the Civil War, Levin and Bermatt focus on such burning questions as which side Jews supported and how critical issues of this period impacted the Jews. They share the trials of Jews in the North and South and their contributions to this national watershed event.

Presented by Bea Levin and Suzanne Bermatt at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

46 min 04 sec

Posted in: RAS

A Jewish presence in China can be traced back to the Tang period in the 8th century. In modern history, the rise of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe in early 19th century and the Holocaust propelled waves of Jews to North and South China. These historical events have been researched and updated by Jewish people ever since their gradual departure from China in the beginning of the 1950s. This presentation provides details on Chinese records of Jewish "guest dwelling" in China.

Presented by Teresa Sun at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

43 min 04 sec

Posted in: RAS

Representatives from the Israel and Judaica Section at the Library of Congress discuss developments in acquisitions and cataloging during the past year, and address questions submitted in advance by AJL members. The session includes a report by Joan Biella of LC and Heidi Lerner of Stanford University on progress in RDA implementation as it relates to Hebraica/Judaica cataloging.

Presented by Joan Biella, Marina Korenberg, Heidi Lerner, Gail Shirazi, Aaron Taub and Galina Teverovsky at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

1 hr 14 min 34 sec

Posted in: RAS

The Archivists' Toolkit, developed as a collaboration among several major research libraries and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was the first open-source application to provide comprehensive, integrated support for the functions of archives. Launched in 2006, it is currently used by a broad range of repositories to manage their archives and manuscript collections. Ms. Schwimmer discusses its particular value in small to mid-sized collections.

Presented by Deena Schwimmer at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

31 min 08 sec

Posted in: RAS

In July 2011, the American Sephardi Federation Library and Archives was awarded a NHPRC grant to conduct the first detailed survey of Sephardi-Mizrahi archival collections throughout the northeastern United States, the first step towards providing a comprehensive research portal for Sephardi/Mizrahi studies. The results of this survey will be published within a newly-created website to publicize this work in its historical context. Mr. Belinfante discusses the background, methodology, progress and future plans for this project.

Presented by Randall Belinfante at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA. 

29 min 20 sec

Posted in: RAS

As part of its mission to serve the Jewish Studies scholarly community, JSTOR has engaged two initiatives to increase coverage of this field in the JSTOR archive. The first is to expand inclusion of Jewish Studies academic journals by including more international titles and expanding broad interdisciplinary coverage of the field. The second is to include periodicals in the Hebrew language. This second initiative was made possible in part through a grant-funded collaboration between JSTOR, the University of Haifa Library and the National Library of Israel, and began with a pilot project to digitize and test the complete back runs of four academic serials in Hebrew through the JSTOR platform, the first of its kind. Throughout the process, we have gained from the input and insights of library and faculty advisors in the Jewish scholarly community. Drawing on these two initiatives, JSTOR will soon launch a unique Jewish Studies collection, offering the full runs of key academic journals. Our intention over the coming years is to continue to build resources in this field to support research, teaching, and learning. we also seek to serve different communities of scholarship, from traditional higher education institutions to museums, theological seminaries and libraries. This presentation will report on findings learned through this pilot project on how readers of advanced Hebrew use digitized academic serials, provide an update on developing this resource to provide value to academic research libraries and other institutions, and invite librarians to participate in developing these resources further in JSTOR.

Presented by Toja Okoh at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

22 min 09 sec

Posted in: RAS

Increasingly, the day-to-day reality of current events in the Middle East is documented not in the pages of printed newspapers, but through Facebook postings, tweets, Smartphone photos, and other informal ephemera material. The UCLA Library received a $3.4 million grant to digitize, preserve, and provide broad public access to print items, images, multimedia, and social networking resources produced in the Middle East, to offer primary sources to students and scholars. Mr. Strong discusses the challenges and opportunities in working with new forms of social media and other primary sources in real time and with international partners including the National Library of Israel.

Presented by Gary Strong at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

23 min 45 sec

Posted in: RAS

In early November 2011, the Center for Jewish History held a gathering of academicians, librarians, and archivists, "From Access to Integration." At this two-day conference, the North American, European, and Israeli participants showcased a variety of digital projects, discussing avenues for a more coordinated way to share information about present and future digital initiatives. From June 4-6, 2012, the National Library of Israel hosted a meeting complementing the New York conference: "Curating and Cultivating Exchange: The First International Conference of Judacia Collection Curators." Mr. Baker provides firsthand impressions of both conferences.

Presented by Zachary Baker at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

26 min 10 sec

Posted in: RAS

Columbia's rare Judaica manuscript collection is the third largest in the United States, behind JTS and HUC, ranging from the 10th to the 20th century, from India to the Caribbean. Ms. Chesner gives a history of the collection, detail the stories found within it, and discuss ways they are promoting use and awareness of the collection.

Presented by Michelle Chesner at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

24 min 40 sec

Posted in: RAS

Ms. Berger describes a project to digitize the Yeshiva University Archives' cantorial manuscripts colleciton, which includes compositions by well-known cantors such as Zeidel Rovner, as well as working notebooks used by cantors in their positions in synagogues.

Presented by Shulamith Berger at the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA.

30 min 26 sec

Posted in: RAS
At the annual awards banquet, authors, illustrators and publishers are recognized for their excellent work. This presentation includes acceptance speeches by the 2011 winners of the RAS Bibliography and Reference Awards, the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, and the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award.

Presented at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

56 min 38 sec

In the spring of 1943, odds of a Ukranian Jew surviving World War II were less than 5%. Hitler's final solution had reached a furious climax with no safe place left to hide, except below ground in a cave. This is the story of how several families, some of whom eventually settled in the Montreal region, chose this option, and fought to survive during one of the darkest times in history. Through the use of slides and an accompanying natrative, Chris Nicola tells this amazing story of survival, as well as his 10 year search for those who lived this remarkable story and his subsequent work in the making of a documentary, featuring himself and some of the Priest's Grotto survivors, based on his book, The Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story.

Presented by Chris Nicola at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 12 min 32 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
One of the most popular and most influential children's adventure books in Irael in the 1950s and 1960s was HaSaMBaH (an acronym for Havurat Sod Muhlat Be-HeHlet/The Gang of the Ultimate Secret), authored by Igal Mosehnzon. Led by a teenager named Yaron Zehavi and his aide Tamar, this group of teenage boys and girls set out to secretly assist the adults intent on ousting the British and on setting up the modern State of Israel. While promoting values such as courage, camaraderie, and freedom, the series also dealt with political ideologies, gender equality, and ethnic diversity. This presentation illuminates the creative modes of delivering societal norms and political ideologies in pre-State Israel and the lasting impact of the series as evident in its recent revival in Israel.

Presented by Yaffa Weisman at the 2011 AJL Convention in Monteral, Quebec.

27 min 19 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
Of all the legal issues libraries face in the digital world, copyright is certainly the most important. Issues abound, from legislative reforms that impact library operations to mass digitization projects or digital licensing of materials. Libraries and the professionals who care for them must build an understanding of how digital copyright imposes new constraints on our institutions.

Presented by Olivier Charbonneau at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

36 min 17 sec

Posted in: RAS
The Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana has invested considerably in the digitization of its collections. The Rosenthaliana hosts a large biographical database of Jews in the Netherlands during the 20th century, containing more than 6,000 biographical entries. On the occasion of the exhibition of the Swiss private collection of Rene Braginsky in the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana in 2009, several dozens of the most important Amsterdam holdings were published on the web. In 2011, some fifty online inventories of Jewish archival collections will be published. Further digital collections planned to be published include the incoming correspondence of the charitable organization "Pekidim and Amarkalim" of Amsterdam, Dutch-Jewish newspapers, and a substantial section of the Hebrew manuscripts of the Rosenthaliana, including its small but important collection of medieval manuscripts (in cooperation with the Naitnoal Library of Irael). The Rosenthaliana will also upload its holdings to the Judaica Europeana project. The presentation not only showcases the ongoing project, but also discusses technical and strategic aspects of the library's digitization efforts.

Presented by Rachel Boertjens at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

27 min 10 sec

Posted in: RAS
In the past 50 years, a new Sephardic migration originating from Mediterranean countries, specifically Morocco, has settled in Quebec. This new community was mainly French speaking and had to find its place within the Anglophone Jewish establishment and in the land of the two Canadian solitudes, French and English. Innovative solutions have been found on the institutional level and important cultural events have allowed the expression of artists in the wide spectrum of literature, theater, movie making, music, and arts. The themes, topics, and languages of expression reveal the deep desire to connect the past experiences of the old country, the new reality of Israel, and the religious dimension with the new Jewish, Quebecois and Canadian identity.

Presented by Dr. David Bensoussan at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

30 min 05 sec

Posted in: RAS

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