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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.


The previous two decades have witnessed a revolution in scholarly communications and learning: a massive migration to a digital and virtually connected world. Many of us have been thinking about and studying the impact of electronic information resources and technologies on Jewish Studies. Within the cross-discipline arena of Jewish Studies, alongside the traditional print journals, conference proceedings, and academic presses, are appearing new forms of digital scholarship, discourse and output that are challenging scholars to reorient the way they think about and conduct their work. Going beyond the massive and proprietary digitization projects, digial reformatting, and new digital editions of print and analog works or simultaneous publication of digital and print materials, this includes work and methods of communication that have been "born digitally." This presentation examines scholarly and creative output and methods of discourse that have been generated entirely digitally and do not, or cannot, have a print or analog version. Some of them may have even been initiated outside of the academy or by students.

A paper by Heidi Lerner, presented in absentia by Anna Levia, at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

29 min 15 sec

Posted in: RAS
The University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library serves as home to one of the most important resources for the study of the Alfred Dreyfus Affair in North America. The Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair is a monument to one of the most shameful incidents in modern French history. Collection materials include dramatic and disturbing anti-Semitic posters and periodicals, as well as some of the most powerful calls for human rights and equal justice ever composed. Possessing a collection of this nature presents many opportunities, but also poses significant challenges for curators and users. The purpose of the session is to describe the collection and these challenges, focusing on its scholarly potential, its uses in the classroom and in exhibitions,and on the collection website. The presenters wished to engage the audience in discussion of topics including: the collection's acquisition policies, the roles and function of the website and its future development, the presentation of controversial and offensive materials online, in exhibitions, and in the classroom, and the place(s) of the library and of librarians as social advocates and stewards.

Presented by David N. McKnight and John Pollock.

25 min 47 sec

Posted in: RAS
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 jewishbookcovers.blogspot.com.

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 http://jewishwomenincomix.blogspot.com.

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

27 min 51 sec

The National Library of Israel (formerly the Jewish National and University Library within the Hebrew University) became a fully independent "community interest company" in January 2011. The transition from a university library to a National Library demanded certain organizational changes, including the creation of a technical services branch. This paper presents current and planned policy changes and new and continuing projects emanating from this branch. Amongst them is a new policy concerning Hebrew personal and place names, the transition from an in-house Dewey based classified catalog to LC subject headings, use of LC classification for shelving some special collections, various retrospective conversion projects, and a major effort to clear out the Library's cataloging backlog.

Presented by Marina Goldsmith at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

39 min 57 sec

Posted in: RAS
The National Library of Israel (NLI) has traditionally provided subject access to its mostly closed stack collection via a classified catalog based on the Dewey Decimal and Universal Decimal systems, with special expansions for Judaica, Israelitica and Islamic studies, and with additional keywords. This unique system was very difficult to understand (particularly by remote users of the catalog) and expensive to maintain. In early 2010, the NLI decided to adopt English language subject headings based on the Library of Congress subject heading list with some adaptations in Judaica and Israeli topics. IN a period of one year, almost 1 million records were enriched with subject headings. This paper presents the unique problems of an Israeli library adopting LCSH and the experience of the NLI in making such a major change in a very short period of time.

Presented by Elhanan Adler at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

36 min 44 sec

Posted in: RAS
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
The colophon is a section of text found at the end of manuscripts and early printed books. It often includes the date of completion of the work, the place where it was written, the name of the copyist, the source of funding, the cost of the composition, personal experiences, poetry, etc. This paper presents the history of the colophon in Hebrew manuscripts, the historical record contained in them and its importance to the history of the Jewish book. It also uses examples of colophons from the Columbia University Hebrew Manuscript collection. In addition, the paper describes the role of the colophon in Hebrew Manuscript Cataloging.

Presented by Yoram Bitton at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

29 min 34 sec

Posted in: RAS
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
Representatives from the Israel and Judaica Section at the Library of Congress discuss developments in aquisitions and cataloging during the past year and address questions submitted in advance by AJL members.

A panel presentation by Joan Biella, Marina Korenberg, Gail Shirazi, Aaron Taub and Galina Teverovsky at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 26 min 26 sec

Posted in: RAS
The shealot ve-teshuvot, Responsa genre draws Jewish law from the past by analogizing halakhicprinciples that apply to questions regarding the new technologies. We will identify some of these ethical concerns and classify them. Some of the many halakhic issues treated include: (1) invading privacy rights in 4 categories: (a) . Hezeq re’iyya, (b) privacy of one’s residence against tresspassers i.e., אִם-בַּמַּחְתֶּרֶת יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב (c) prohibition of disclosure of nistarot and tailbearing, הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל, מְגַלֶּה-סּוֹד; וְנֶאֱמַן-רוּחַ, מְכַסֶּה דָבָר[ thereby transgressing against the Chofetz Chaim’s laws of shemirat loshon (lashon harah, and motzhi shem rah) (d) privacy of one’s emails a warning against which can include the phrase: בחדר"גמה בחרם ד,רבננו גרשום מאור הגולה meaning herem d’rabbeinu Gershom, or pagi’in פג,ין an acronymn forפורץ גדד י-שכנו נחש (2) The sanctity of Hashem’s name and the prohibitions of erasing the name (mechikat Hashem) based on Devarim 12:2-3, and does this apply on a computer screen i.e. lo ta’asum ken is an issur chaftza, a prohibition pivoting around a physical object (a) sefer torah with a specific halakhic status, written by a sofer who has teveled in a mikvah and written the name with yirat shamayim (haikkar ve-takhlit ha-adam) and kavanah (3) internet commerce on Shabbat, (4) social network listserves, blogs, wikis, etc. by which Orthodox Jews can construct "cyber" communities (5) employing filters for screening out “pritzus,narishkeit, and stius,(6) spyware and cookies that marketers use to target consumer groups, who may not wish these marketing techniques be used to waste their time, bitul zeman; (7) davoningfrom a kindle or ipod obviously not on Shabbos, (8) cyber minyanim and mizumem?, (9) permissibility of censoring hate literature on the web, (10) computer crimes of abuse and fraud by which one piggy-backs on another’s Wi-fi unsecured signals without authorization or permission to access to a computer network, contracted by others, possibly harming the network and damaging others’ data, and also diminishing bandwidth which can effect speed of connection for the paying subscriber, ergo constituting geneiva , (11) illegal film and music downloading causing financial loss to royalties of copyrighted works, despite minhago shel olam (normative practice) and hamotzi l’or yodeah mizeh (the author knew full well upon making the work public how it might be abused, i.e. umdenah (common assumption) (12) ethical concern with author copyright within 5 categories: A. Hasagat gevul -- unfair competition:B. Haskamot -- approbations; C. Dina d’malkhuta dina (based on Shmuel )--secular law; D. Shiur b’kinyan-- witholding the right to copy.and copyright- E. sighting a law in the name of one’s Rebbe who learned it from his Rebbe, a reason Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the pirush Kesef Mishnahon Rambam’s Sefer Mishnah Torah, MT. see: Megilah 15a explicating Esther 2:22וַיִּוָּדַע הַדָּבָר לְמָרְדֳּכַי , וַיַּגֵּד לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה ; וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ , בְּשֵׁם מָרְדֳּכָי and P.A 6:6משנה מסכת אבות פרק This presentation attempts to outline and gather some of the basic frameworks of the halakhic approaches and principles to online ethical issues, for practical guidance please consult a qualified halakhic authority credentialed to field sheolos.

Presented by David B. Levy at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

40 min 44 sec]

Posted in: RAS
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
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
Modern Judaica librarianship is not very different from general librarianship in that it concentrates more and more on the integration of digital presentations into the facilities offered to all users. A fast-growing corpus of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books are offered online in many different formats, in many different selections, and with greatly varying usefulness. This presentation concentrates on the digital presentation of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books on various websites, both from the professional librarian's perspective, with its natural concentration on best practices, international standards and sustainability, and from the researcher's perspective, with a far more limited perspective: usefulness. The presentation also includes an overview of new initiatives for international cooperation in the field of digitization of Jewish collections.

Presented by Dr. Emile G.L. Schrijver at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

37 min 18 sec

Posted in: RAS
This paper describes and analyzes three library classification schemes for Judaica in their historical context and discusses how the libraries for which they were originally designed, and the interests and background of their compilers, shaped the design of each scheme. The three schemes in question are the Freidus, Scholem and Elazar classifications. An outline is given of how each scheme has continued to develop since its first publication and how they have been adapted by other libraries to suit their particular collections.

Presented by Vanessa Freedman at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

30 min 30 sec

Posted in: RAS
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 highlights a unique digitization project being undertaken by the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. The library will digitize an important collection of over 200 anniversary editions of Jewish newspapers held at the University of Florida. These jubilee issues have never been catalogued and until now have remained "hidden" from its patrons. Anniversary issues of newspaper titles contain a great deal of information about the history of the particular newspaper in question. Together, as a large and varied collection, they provide a key resource for research into the  history of the Jewish press. The presentation includes a slide show featuring images of some of the newly digitized newspapers. Particular focus is given to the Canadian issue.

[Note: Powerpoint presentation is available in the AJL Convention Proceedings members-only section of the website. Click here to become a member.]

Presented by Dr. Rebecca J.W. Jefferson

18 min 55 sec

Posted in: RAS
RDA, Resource Description and Access, is the proposed content standard for cataloging that would supersede the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. The Library of Congress, National Agricultural Library, National Library of Medicine and 23 partnering institutions joined together to test RDA as a first step to determine whether or not the standard should be adopted. Joan Biella of the Library of Congress and Heidi Lerner of Stanford University Libraries were the only two Hebraica catalogers to participate in the test. Heidi was not able to attend the convention, but Joan spoke about their experiences as official participants in the test and focus on how what they learned and experienced through the test can impact future Hebraica cataloging.

Presented by Joan Biella at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

56 min 25 sec

Posted in: RAS
It can be argued that the Holocaust is the most published-about event in history. The Yad Vashem Library holds some 125,000 titles in 54 languages about the Holocaust and related events. Although we know a great deal about the Holocaust, new issues, sometimes of major importance, still arise. Over the last few years, one of those issues is where the Holocaust should stand in relation to wider contexts. There is much importance in anchoring the Holocaust in wider contexts, especially to counter the idea that it is some aberration in human history. Nonetheless, some of this discussion has become problematic and some of the problematic aspects have begun to surface in serious academic works. Perhaps most salient are the works of Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands) and Donald Bloxham (The Final Solution: A Genocide), which are being discussed widely and are deeply flawed. Perhaps unwittingly, such studies provide fodder to people who would like to manipulate the memory and history of the Holocaust for their own ends.

Presented by Rob Rozett at the 2011 AJL Convention, Montreal, Quebec.

35 min 17 sec

Posted in: RAS

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