Monday morning started bright and very early with a session on digitization projects. Joyce Rappaport from YIVO began by walking us through the process of editing the 2 v. Encylopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe and how it grew and transformed into a website. She spoke of the challenges that all we catalogers can relate to: standardizing the spelling of personal names; figuring how to refer to places that have changed names and national boundaries, multiple language submissions, and multiple author entries. Joyce also mentioned the lively discussions that determined the boundaries of "East Europe" (for their purposes; east of Germany, north of the Balkins) and the time period covered. It was very important to YIVO that this NOT be a Yizkor book, but rather a celebration of Jewish thought, life, customs, arts, biography, life cycle celebrations, political involvement and much more from medieval times to the near current day.
Transforming the paper volumes into web pages allowed them to add many more color pictures, interactive maps, multi-media, and to keep the articles current. There is a tab for educators and researchers with lesson plans and curricula. I was surprised and thrilled to hear that the online version is free and open to anyone. YIVO is understandably proud that they are the first to post a major reference source online that is open access. http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/
The next speaker was just as exciting. Rebecca Jefferson spoke about digitizing one of the quirkier collections at the Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. The collect anniversary issues of journals and newspapers and festschriften of all kinds. The show a fascinating glimpse at what the editors thought were the important milestones for the Jewish community at that time. They also include ads and notes of congratulations from individuals, businesses, and organizations which show the make up of the community. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/anniversary
The last speaker of the session, Rachel Boertjens, spoke about the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana's project to digitize the correspondance between the "Pekidim & Amarkalim," a philanthropic organization, and the individuals and yeshivot that wrote to them asking from money from the early to late 1800's.
The next session was a sort of catch-all on Israeli life and culture. Anna Levia gave a surprisingly interesting and engaging talk about sewage. Yes, I said sewage. As part of a large collection on Tel Aviv that the University of Stanford acquired, was a collection of correspondence to the municipality on the subject of waste processing and removal in pre-state Palestine. While not the most appetizing of subjects, this topic is of obvious importance to anyone studying the development of a city.
The next speaker might have started with the immortal words of Monty Python "And now for something completely different" Daniel Scheide and Sharon Benamou gave a whirlwind tour of Israeli hip-hop, rap, and other related genre's. They demonstrated (by showing videos - not by singing) how rap is used by both religious and secular Israelis as well as among many of the different ethnic groups in Israel. Some use it to show their differences while others to make a case for toleration and understanding.
Yaffa Weisman then took us in yet another direction by examining the book and television series HaSaMBaH, the Hebrew acronym for the Extreme secret Gang. This series showed a group of Israeli teens working together to solve crimes and nab the bad guys. The teens represented many politicals, economic, and social classes within Israel. She spoke about how the series was used to indoctrinate Israelis on the values of equality and cooperation. The books were revived and reprinted several times and were made into tv series. You could definitely tell who the Israeli's were in the audience by how much they were nodding in memory of the characters.