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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 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.


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
A book's cover is often the first thing one notices about a book when skimming a catalog or browsing in a bookstore. Although they help form an initial impression about the book, covers are seldom mentioned in book reviews or recognized through awards. This session aims to bring attention to the art and skill of book cover design by highlighting both effective and problematic Judaica book covers using a variety of examples, formats, and genres (picture books, graphic novels, fiction, biography, and history).

For images of the book covers discussed in this presentation, please visit

Presented by Steven M. Bergson at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

30 min 42 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
The ways that women have been portrayed in comics during the past 75 years has led to criticism by fans, scholars, and creators in the industry. At one extreme, there are unrealistic superwomen who are shown being able to juggle both their career and their household, while still finding time to use their superpowers to save the world time and again. At the other extreme are women characters who are victimized, brutalized, and/or sexualized to a greater extent than their male counterparts. Although Jewish women characters are a minority in the comix genre, dozens of examples of such characters may be found. This session highlights several examples of such characters from various comix genres (e.g. Bibllical, superhero, biographical, war, graphic fiction, travelogues) and illustrate what types of values these characters embody.

NOTE: At the end of this recording, speaker Steven Bergson mentions the following speaker, Barry Deutsch, author of Hereville, whose presentation may be found here.

For the visuals from this presentation, please visit

Presented by Steven Bergson at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

27 min 51 sec

Monique Polak discusses her novel What World Is Left, a work of historical fiction based on her mother's experience as a teenager in Theresienstadt. Polak will discuss the sad secret that lies at the heart of her novel: that the father of her young protagonist, Anneke, has been forced by the Nazis to produce propaganda drawings. Anneke will grapple with this revelation and it is this moral dilemma that helps to make Polak's novel resonate with contemporary tweens and teens. Polak will also explain the personal journey she undertook to produce this novel, as well as the delicate task of melding fact and fiction, especially when exploring a subject as painful and important as the Holocaust.

Presented by Monique Polak at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

24 min 08 sec

Authors Margie Gelbwasser and Sarar Darer Littman have both written novels which feature characters struggling with their Jewish identity within the constructs of the everyday life of today's teens. This panel explores the portrayal of Judaism in middle grade and YA fiction, using both past and contemporary examples.

Presented by Margie Gelbwasser and Sarah Darer Littman at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

27 min 03 sec

Our panel of library administrators discusses the financial challenges facing libraries in today's economic climate and their strategies for success.

Presented by Helen Fortin, Evy Raby, Steven Spodek and Lynn Verge at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 13 min 52 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
This session presents a survey of free online professional development resources that librarians can use both in their own practice and to develop expertise to share with colleagues. Of primary interest to those working with school-aged children, many resources will overlap with the needs of those working in research-based settings.

Presented by Sara Ravid at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

53 min 57 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
In these times, where technology goes so fast and helps librarians to develop their work in the most efficient way, Rita Saccal shows how it is possible to manage a library without all the advantages of modern technology.

Presented by Rita Saccal at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

21 min 24 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
While hip-hop is a uniquely American musical genre, its influence has spread all over the world. In recent years, Israeli hip-hop has come into its own, developing recognizable Israeli sounds and themes. Hip-hop has permeated nearly all the existing genres of Israeli music and cuts a wide swath across Israeli culture. With their inimitable wit and charm, Sharon Benamou and Daniel Scheide explore the musical, political and sociological dimensions of this music.

Presented by Sharon Benamou and Daniel Scheide at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

22 min 31 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
It is not unheard of for a webcomic to be published in a print edition (e.g. the Eisner award-winning Cancer Mom). It is not unprecedented for a graphic novel to be published which features a young Jewish girl (e.g. Token). However, it is rare to find a graphic novel that stars an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who aspires to fight dragons. Author-illustrator Barry Deutsch discusses his literary influences, the experience of self-publishing a serialized webcomic, the process of creating Hereville, and future plans for Hereville - a book described by School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird as "the best graphic novel of 2010 for kids. Bar none."

Presented by Barry Deutsch at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

30 min

While the names of two Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, easily spring to mind even for those impervious tot he US national pastime, according to baseball "halakhah," over 150 Jews have swung bats, tossed balls, and wielded leather in the North American major leagues. Many others were minor leaguers, executives, sportscasters, sportswriters, and authors. There is even a new baseball league in Israel. We examine a number of Web resources dealing with the abundant Jewish participation in the grand old game.

Presented by Elliot H. Gertel at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

37 min 02 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
Mordecai Richler famously said that he did not consider himself a "Jewish writer." What is the value/importance of writing about a certain cultural tradition? can we identify a Montreal-Jewish or Canadian-Jewish literary tradition? Are there writers actively continuing these traditions? Responding to it? Taking it in new directions? Meet four Montreal Jewish writers, hear them read from their recent works, and hear discussion on the value of writing within a Jewish tradition.

Presented as a panel by Ami Sands Brodoff, Bevery Akerman, Joel Yanofsky, and Glen Rotchin.

1 hr 18 min 38 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC
This presentation shows how to use Judaic resources to teach students about the different types of books in the reference section. Library standards are addressed and specific lesson plans shared.

Presented by Susan Dubin at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 4 min 19 sec

Posted in: SSC
Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Books led this panel of authors for ounger readers who represent a wide range of contemporary Jewish experience. The authors shared their own understanding of how "Jewish" informs their writing and introduced us to their latest titles.

Presented by Joni Sussman, Anna Levine, Alan Silberberg and Sara Mlynowski at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 19 min 19 sec

At each year’s AJL convention, members of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee participate in a panel presentation to discuss the best and worst of recent Jewish literature for children and teens. In this podcast, you can hear members Susan Berson, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Debbie Colodny, and Kathe Pinchuck sharing their delight and dismay over juvenile Judaica published during 2009, reviewed while seeking the winners of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award.

This panel was presented at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Seattle, WA

1 hr 38 min 53 sec

A panel of experienced book reviewers share their views on the craft of constructing a useful review, on differences between reviewing for children and or adults, on unique issues in reviewing Judaica, and more.

Presented by Ellen Cole, Heidi Estrin, Kathe Pinchuck, and Lisa Silverman at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

1 hr 29 min 53 sec

In this highly interactive workshop, we think dynamically about the role of the library in your synagogue and learn how to demonstrate to your lay leadership that the synagogue library is an asset in their efforts to draw in members, bring in revenue, and create a focal point for community involvement.

Presented by Kathy Bloomfield at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

1 hr 1 min 57 sec

Posted in: SSC

The best memoirs provide the same pleasures as novel reading: fascinating characters, riveting stories, interesting settings, and of course, great writing. Jewish memoirs are no exception! In this presentation you’ll hear about great Jewish memoirs for your library, for book discussion groups, and for your own reading.

Presented by Roz Reisner at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

41 min 05 sec

Posted in: SSC

Author Margarita Engle won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers category for Tropical Secrets. She had the opportunity to present her book to an appreciative audience at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention in Seattle, WA.

29 min 47 sec

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