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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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Entries for 'heidi'

If you belong to an AJL Chapter or would like to start one in your area, this is the lecture for you. Chapter officers speak about their experiences with organization issues, leadership and succession, communication, programming and more in this lively panel discussion with Marcie Eskin, Jean Loeb Lettofsky, Yelena Luckert and Rosalind Reisner.

Marcie Eskin is the librarian at the Marshall Jewish Learning Center of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago, as well as librarian at Beth Hillel Congregation’s B’nai Emunah Library in Wilmete, IL. She is past president of AJL’s Chicago Chapter.

Jean Loeb Lettofsky is director of the library at Siegal College and a past president of AJL’s Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is co-editor of Guide to Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust and Jewish Union List: Periodical Holdings in Greater Cleveland Jewish Libraries.

Yelena Luckert is a librarian for History, Jewish, Slavic & Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, and the author of Soviet Jewish History, 1917-1991: An Annotated Bibliography. She is chair of AJL’s Doris Orenstein Memorial Fund.

Rosalind Reisner is the author of Jewish American Literature: A Guide to Reading Interests, winner of the 2004 AJL Judaica Reference & Bibliography Award. She is librarian at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, NJ, and is co-chair of AJL’s Chapter Relations Committee with Irene Seff.

Please note that Irene Seff was also scheduled to present in this session but was unavailable to participate.

49 min 36 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Rita Berman Frischer

It is hard to imagine the world of children’s books without Jewish women writers. In this session, Rita Berman Frischer supports what she wrote in an article published in Jewish Women in America: A Historical Encyclopedia, presenting a lively overview of Jewish women writers past and present, while noting trends and examining the contributions of specific women writers in more detail.

Rita Berman Frischer, former Director of Sinai Temple Library in West LA and Chair of the first AJL Sydney Taylor Award Committee, is a writer and reviewer of juvenile and YA literature. She has presented lectures and workshops for HUC-JIR, AJL, CAJE, and others in the US and abroad, and served as judge for numerous book awards.

25 min 20 sec

Although several comic book stories have tried to describe life in Israel (Joe Sacco’s Palestine; Peter Kuper’s Promised Land; Uri Fink’s Fink!), very few of them have been written by women and none of them have tried to show what life is like for those who work behind the scenes in the Israeli army, working desk jobs and performing menial tasks (the so-called “jobnikim”). Miriam Libicki, who spent two years as a volunteer in the Israeli army, is currently completing work on her self-published comic book series jobnik!, while also writing illustrated essays such as “Towards a Hot Jew: The Israeli Soldier as Fetish Object,” “ceasefire,” and “Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy!” Miriam discusses her influences, what led her to choose comics as a format, why she started the jobnik! series, her self-publishing experience, and how her work has been received thus far in Israel and elsewhere.

Miriam Libicki was born in 1981 in Columbus, Ohio. After living in Jerusalem and Seattle, Washington, she is now based in Vancouver, BC. She completed her BFA from Emily Carr Institute in 2006. She is the creator of the comic series jobnik! and the drawn essays “Towards a Hot Jew,” “ceasefire,” and “Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy!” (in The Jewish Graphic Novel, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press). See her blog at www.realgonegirl.com

23 min 45 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC

One of the most active and dynamic groups of Sephardim today are the Syrian Jews living in Brooklyn, New York. An extremely tight-knit community, they began moving from Syria at the beginning of the 20th centuray. Subjected to terrible persecution, a major wave of them came to New York in the 1920′s, and another group came when they were released by the government in the 1990′s. In New York they became a highly insular group, with a major edict that prevented almost any conversion into their community. This was intended to prevent dilution of the traditional community and has resulted in a highly homogeneous, close-knit group of jews whose numbers now exceed 75,000. Two scholars, Dr. Walter Zenner and Joseph A.D. Sutton, have carried out extensive studies of this gropu, with articles, oral histories, and other documentary evidence. The papers of both of these scholars are held in the archives of the American Sephardi Federation. In this presentation, we examine those papers and attempt to learn a little more about this fascinating group of Sephardim.

Randall Belinfante is the Librarian/Archivist of the American Sephardi Federation. Over the past seven years, he has expanded this Library/Archives from a small collection of 200 odd books and 20 boxes of papers to a collection that now exceeds 6,000 catalogued items and some 300 linear feet of archives. Randy is fascinated by all aspects of the Sephardim, with papers and articles dealing with communities from Brooklyn to Burma.

23 min 24 sec

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Even Batgirl had help, but the superhero librarian survives with a small space and a staff of one. The solo librarian is alone in the trenches, balancing many responsibilities. During this session, we discuss the tricks of the trade for surviving in the library alone. We discuss how to schedule your day, week, and year, so that you do not feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities. We will also share techniques that you can take back to your library so that it can be run in a more efficient manner. The second half of the presentation will look into collection development tips such as weeding, purchasing, and electronic alternatives that enable a library with minimal space to meet the needs of its patrons.

Michal Davis has an MLS from Queens College and a Masteres in Education and Curriculum from Capella University. She is a permanently certified New York State K-6  teacher as well as a K-12 School Library Media Specialist. Michal spent two years teaching at Yeshivat Ohr Haiim before she began working for the Nassau BOCES School Library System, Library Automation and Resource Sharing division as a Program Specialist. Since leaving BOCES, she has worked at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls Library as a solo librarian for four years, and also spent a year as librarian at Shelter Rock Jewish Center. She is now librarian at Temple B’nai Sholom of Rockville Center.

1 hr 7 min 43 sec

Posted in: SSC

As well as a brief general overview of the DSS library, the differences revelaed by the contents of DSS texts in theology between Essenes, Sadducess and Pharisees is illustrated by looking at the topics of predestination, immortality, dualism, apocalyptic messianism, and angelology. Differences in halakhah are illustrated by touching on the laws regarding halah, peru u-revu, pikuah nefesh, li-fenim mi-shurat ha-din, oils, mikvaot immersions, harvesting the omer, tevel yom relating to the parah adumah, and some differences in Shabbat observances. The method of approach is to compare DSS theology, politics and halakhah with the evolution of mainstream Rabbinic traditions across history in order to illuminate, enhance, and increase our knowledge about Rabbinic observances, history and practices.

David B. Levy received a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy, rabbinics and biblical studies in 2002. In 1994, he received an MLS from UMCP. He previously served as a librarian and taught in thehigh school at Ner Israel.

25 min 36 sec

Posted in: RAS

The Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award grows and expands as it plans for its 14th award in 2009. This award has been endowed by Sonia Levitin, renowned author of children’s and young adult literature, and her family, and is administered by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance Library and Archives. We larn from and are inspired by AJL’s Sydney Taylor Book Award. In this talk, Adaire Klein discusses the history and future plans of the award, and how others can share in bringing quality children’s literature to young readers, “building tolerance through literature.”

Adaire Klein is the founding Director of Library and Archival Services for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance. She designed the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award and has administered it since its inception. She gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 23, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

14 min 07 sec

The Klezmer Company Orchestra with author Heidi Smith Hyde

Author Heidi Smith Hyde’s picture book, Mendel’s Accordion, was named a 2008 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries. It tells a story of klezmer music, immigration, and the passing on of tradition from one generation to the next. Ms. Hyde did a live reading of Mendel’s Accordion accompanied by members of the Klezmer Company Orchestra at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida on February 25, 2009. For full information about the event and links to resources on the story, visit klez4kids.blogspot.com.

31 min 30 sec

This presentation includes a brief history of the Jewish people after leaving Czarist Russia and arriving to a free Argentina, a place that would be their homeland to date. Their life in the colonies, different aspects of Jewish publishing in those settlements, the migration of future generations to Buenos Aires, and now, the “revival” of the colonies through tourist trips are all covered.

Rita Saccal has worked at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano “Marshall T. Meyer” in Buenos Aires since 1989 and has served as its Head Librarian since 1997.

25 min 03 sec

Lisa Silverman and Talma Shultz participated in a panel discussion moderated by Adaire Klein on teaching with Holocaust books. Lisa spoke about teaching the Holocaust using picture books, and Talma spoke about the middle and high school perspective.

Adaire Klein is the founding Director of Library and Archival Services at the Simon Wiesenthal CenterMuseum of Tolerance. She holds a B.A. in Hebrew Literature and a M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University.

Talma Shultz is an instructor and lecturer with Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that offers teacher training programs for Middle School and High School Holocaust Education.

Lisa Silverman is the director of the Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library at Sinai Temple. She leads classes and book groups, along with organizing community programs on literature. She is the children’s editor of Jewish Book World magazine and also a reviewer of children’s literature for various other publications. She has often been a featured speaker at library conventions or literary conferences. She serves as a judge for the children’s division of the National Jewish Book Award and also for the “Once Upon a World” Book Award.

They gave this presentation at the 7th annual Association of Jewish Libraries Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for Children on February 1, 2009 at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

47 min 17 sec

Tags: Holocaust

Hamida Basmajian & Eric Sundquist


  • Early responses, before “the Holocaust.” Hersey, Uris, and others.
  • Priority of testimony and its relation to fiction. Elie Wiesel and others.
  • The problem of authenticity and hoaxes. Kosinski, Wilkomirski and others.
  • The Americanization of the Holocaust. Anne Frank’s Diary and others.
  • Second-generation approaches. Philip Roth, Thane Rosenbaum, and others.
  • Eric Sundquist discusses the evolution of Holocaust literature, particularly from the American perspective, from the immediate aftermath of the war through late-twentieth-century responses by those of the second generation, including children of survivors. Issues to consider include the priority of testimony and its relation to fiction; the problem of authenticity and hoaxes; the “Americanization” of the Holocaust; and the self-reflexive and sometimes postmodern strategies of some second-generation writers.


  • Perception of “Children’s Literature” as an academic field of study.
  • Authorial motivation to write Holocaust narratives as children’s literature.
  • Contexts and readers of Holocaust narratives for North American children and youths. The aim of testimony in the context of children’s literature.
  • Structures, Conventions, Genres—
    § The survivor journal, memoir, or autobiography as privileged form –ethos of the survivor as hero, the testimony of the survivor as victim.
    § Fictionalized autobiographies based on authorial childhood memory.
    § Fictional Holocaust narratives and acquired memory—possibilities and limitations.
  • Hamida Basmajian refers to the following narratives as examples during this session: The Diary of Anne Frank, Ruth Minsky Sender’s The Cage and The Holocaust Lady, Carol Matas’ Daniel’s Story, Gudrun Pausewang’s The Final Journey, John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Doris Orgel’s The Devil in Vienna, Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and Briar Rose.

    Eric J. Sundquist is the UCLA Foundation Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Sundquist received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University and is the author or editor of twelve books, the most recent of which are King’s Dream (2009); Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America (2005), which received the Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute Book Award.

    Hamida Bosmajian, Professor Emerita of the English Department at Seattle University, is the author of Sparing the Child: Grief and the Unspeakable in Youth Literature about Nazism and the Holocaust (Routledge, 2002) and Metaphors of Evil. Contemporary German Literature and the Shadow of Nazism (U. of Iowa Press, 1979). The Children’s Literature Association honored Sparing the Child with the ChLA Book Award in 2004.

    They gave this presentation at the 7th annual Association of Jewish Libraries Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for Children on February 1, 2009 at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

    1 hr 18 min 57 sec

    Tags: Holocaust

    Rachel Leket-Mor

    Hebrew printing in America was initiated as early as 1735 and encompassed a variety of genres, including literature for children. Unsurprisingly, major cities with big Jewish populations, such as New York City, Philadelphia or Cleveland, were fundamental in the intellectual and financial efforts involved in this activity, serving as urban magnets for authors, educators and publishers. Memphis, Tennessee was not one of these cultural centers. In fact, not even one single Hebrew book is known to have been published there at least until 1926, the last year reviewed in the most comprehensive research on this topic. In 1945, however, a Hebrew book series for children was published in Memphis by the Shainberg Library Foundation. This presentation features the series, as this unconventional project in the history of the Hebrew book may shed light on the mainstream Hebrew movement in America, its leaders and politics. Aspects of book production, Jewish publishing history, Hebrew literature and education in America, as well as children’s literature, are discussed.

    Rachel Leket-Mor has worked as a Hebrew editor with Israel publishers. She is Bibliographer of Religion, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. She gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 24, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    32 min 10 sec

    Posted in: RAS

    Dina Rosenfeld, Hara Person & Claudia Valas

    Representatives from URJ Press, Hachai Publishing, and EKS Publishing discuss each publisher’s unique approach to Jewish children’s literature. Topics include a brief history of each house, some classics, and current trends. They gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Celebration of Jewish Children’s Literature, in honor of the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s 40th Anniversary, held on June 25, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Rabbi Hara E. Person was the Editor-in-Chief of URJ Press at the time of this panel, but is now the Publisher and Director of Press at CCAR

    Dina Rosenfeld is the Editor-in-Chief at Hachai Publishing and has written 18 children’s books of her own.

    Claudia Valas is the President of EKS Publishing, a company created for the development of Hebrew educational matierals.

    76 min 0 sec

    Daniel Scheide, center, with friends at the AJL Convention in Cleveland

    Since the early 1990′s, Jewish music has undergone a burgeoning revival and a drastic transformation. While being grounded in klezmer, hazzanut and other traditional sounds, today’s Jewish music is being informed by free jazz, avant-garde composer, hardcore punk, and a wide variety of other outside influences. At the forefront of this movement are recent MacArthur Genius grant winner John Zorn and his record label, Tzadik. This talk is a brief introduction and overview of one of the most exciting developments in modern Jewish culture.

    Daniel Scheide is a cataloger for Florida Atlantic University. He writes a column about Jewish music for AJL Newsletter and also serves as the newsletter’s co-editor for adult book reviews. He gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 23, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    20 min 56 sec

    Posted in: RAS

    Nancy, Maureen and Etta

    Book clubs… Reading Clubs… Literature Circles… in essence, they’re all the same thing. A reader, be it child, teen or adult, has much to gain by reading the same book as others in a group and then sharing their experience with the other members. This workshop will focus on the issues:

    • Why to have a book club
    • How to start a book club
    • Selecting books
    • Running and marketing a book club

    and book club best practices, based on theory, research, and experience from three librarians who run three different types of successful book clubs: Nancy Austein, Etta Gold, and Maureen Reister.

    Nancy Austein is the Library Director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX.

    Etta Gold is the Library Director of Temple Beth Am in Miami, FL.

    Maureen Reister is Dirctor of Libraries at Ann & Nate Levine Academy, a Solomon Schechter School in Dallas, TX.

    They gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 23, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    78 min 48 sec

    Successful books for teen readers combine authentic voice and personal conflict, as well as relevant issues. These three prolific YA authors continue to deliver! In a dynamic panel presentation, Margo, Carol, and Sonia explain their personal histories and react to each other’s stories in ways that are both fascinating and touching. They gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Celebration of Jewish Children’s Literature, in honor of the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s 40th Anniversary, held on June 25, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Sonia Levitin is the author of Strange Relations, the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers.

    Carol Matas is the author of The Whirlwind, a 2008 AJL Notable Children’s Book of Jewish Content.

    Margo Rabb is the author of Cures for Heartbreak, a 2008 AJL Notable Teen Book of Jewish Content.

    72 min 31 sec

    The field of Qumran Studies underwent a dramatic shift in 1990 with the expansion of access to the thousands of fragments previously unavailable to the majority of scholars. This talk summarizes the developments in our understanding of the meaning and significance of these materials for the study of Second Temple Judaism and identifies important issues in the ongoing academic work of Qumran scholars.

    Dr. John Kampen is the Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament at Methodist Theological School in Delaware, OH. He gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 24, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    28 min 14 sec

    Posted in: RAS

    The Association of Jewish Libraries Reference Book Award, Bibliography Award, and Body of Work Award were presented to the winners and runners up at the annual awards banquet at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 24, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Reference Book Award is sponsored by Dr. Greta Silver, and the Bibliography Award is sponsored by Eric Chaim Kline. Both awards are administered by the Research Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries.

    2007 Reference Award
    Writers in Yiddish / edited by Joseph Sherman. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007. (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 333.)

    2007 Bibliography Award
    Dictionary of Iberian Jewish and Converso Authors / by Norman Roth. Salamanca; Madrid: Aben Ezra Ediciones; Universidad Pontifica Salamanca, 2007.

    2007 Special Body-of-Work Citation
    Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at the University of Cambridge / Stefan Reif, Director Emeritus.

    Read more about all three awards as well the runners-up.

    29 min 27 sec

    Posted in: RAS
    Swarner, Gershman, Levitin & Fleischman

    Swarner, Gershman, Levitin & Fleischman

    The Sydney Taylor Awards are sponsored by Jo Taylor Marshall, daughter of Sydney Taylor, and are administered by the Synagogue, School, and Centers Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries. The 2008 awards were presented at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 24, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    The winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award were:

    For Younger Readers: The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book by Sarah Gershman, illustrated by Kristina Swarner, EKS Publishing, 2007

    For Older Readers: The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman, Greenwillow Books, 2007

    For Teen Readers: Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin, Knopf, 2007

    The winner of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award was:

    Stealing the Show by Margaret Chaikin

    40 min 25 sec

    Though the American comic book format has only been around for 75 years, every decade since 1933 has seen examples of stories taking place in Israel or using Israeli characters. There have been over a dozen examples since 2000 (and the decade’s not over yet!). This presentation showcases the variety and types of such representation. These include superhero stories, humor cartoons, first-person travelogues, “comics journalism,” biographies, wordless collages, graphic histories and graphic fiction. Though comics are still often seen as irrelevant and catering to a niche market, this presentation should demonstrate that there are notable exceptions, which make it worthwhile to be aware of what is being published and what those publications are trying to say.

    An online handout which includes the visual elements of this presentation may be found at israelincomics.blogspot.com.

    Steve Bergson is research administrator for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and he blogs about Jewish comics at jewishcomics.blogspot.com. He gave this presentation at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on June 23, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    32 min 44 sec

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