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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 'Archives'

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a scholar, writer and theologian, is widely recognized as one of the most influential Jewish spiritual leaders of the 20th century. The Heschel archive consists of 85 boxes containing manuscripts, correspondence, publications, documents and photographs spanning five decades and at least four languages. Included among the papers are notes and drafts for nearly all of Heschel's published works, as well as extensive correspondence with some of the leading religious figures of his time, such as Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The papers also contain extensive documentation on Heschel's lifelong commitment to social justice, including planning documents, correspondence with organizers, speeches, and even hate mail. In the presentation, Rachel introduces Heschel's life and work, his writings and his religious and social activity as it is revealed through his personal archive. She presents images of a variety of items from the archive and discusses the challenges and discoveries experienced in processing this outstanding collection as it is being prepared for scholars and researchers.

Presented by Rachel Ariel at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.


Posted in: RAS

This session provides a description and overview of collections of synagogue archives at Yeshiva University, with an emphasis on describing and providing examples of different types of records which typically comprise synagogue archives. There will be discussion of the history of synagogues, chiefly in New York City (plus a small taste of the large state of Texas), why it is important to collect synagogue records, and different aspects of acquiring synagogue records.

Presented by Shulamith Berger at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS, SSC

Over seven years in the making, the Gershwind-Bennett Isaac Leeser Digitization Project uses digital technologies to make accessible on-line the physically dispersed corpus of over 2,100 handwritten letters, monograph and serial publications, as well as print material related to Isaac Leeser. Isaac Leeser (1806-1868) was an architect of 19th century American Jewish life, editor of the Occident, the first American Jewish monthly periodical, the founder of the first American Jewish publication society and of Maimonides College, the nation's first rabbinical seminary. The Leeser corpus is the first of what we hope will be a continuing series of such initiatives within the framework of the Jesselson-Kaplan American Genizah Project, an international initiative to integrate digital technologies into the way we study early American Jewry. Its primary goal is to create an open access digital repository or "genizah" of physically dispersed primary sources that document the development of Jewish life in the western hemisphere form the 16th-19th centuries.

Presented by Arthur Kiron at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

The evolution of Jewish medieval classification of library collections evolved over the Tannaitic (70vCE to 200 CE), Amoraic (200-500 CE), Savoraim (500-600 CE), Geonic (600-900 CE), Rishonim (900-1450 CE), Achronim (1450-Shoah) periods as the genres of Jewish knowledge expanded and the world of Jewish knowledge developed in an oral tradition that later was set down. Mordechai Breuer, Ephraim Kanarfogel, Isadore Twersky, Adin Steinsaltz, and Nathan Drazin have shown that this evolution of the Jewish library within the context of Jewish educational "institutions," such as the medieval Yeshivot, Rabbinic Academies, Bate Midrash, Synagogues, and self-regulating Jewish Communal government (kehilah), allowed for the classification and organization of manuscripts and sefarim to remain internally coherent.

Presented by David Levy at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

Posted in: RAS

Ephemera have a storied and stormy history in archives and special collections: they live in a space between printed, non-unique material and unique materials, and pose preservation challenges for librarians and archivists. yet ephemera are among the most interesting materials in libraries and archives. As researchers start to utilize ephemera, catalogers must address the need for using ephemera. This presentation demonstrates challenges facing catalogers of ephemera in all types of institutions, including Judaic collections, and offers some possible solutions. While few standards are offered to catalogers, methods exist to allow users access to collections.

Presented by Dina Herbert at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX.

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
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

This is a follow-up to Zachary Baker’s presentation at the June 2007 AJL convention where he provided an overview of the Eliasaf Robinson Collection on Tel Aviv. Acquired by Stanford at the end of 2005, the collection includes rare archival documents, ephemera, maps, posters, and photographs, along with several hundred books, pamphlets, and journals devoted to Tel Aviv from its founding in 1909 until Israel declared its independence in 1948. Since 2007, about half of the collection’s monographs and serials, and about 40% of its archival materials have been digitized and are now accessible via the Standford University Libraries’ digital collections website. In this presentation, Zachary will discuss the decision-making process that went into selection of items for digitization, the interactions between different departments that were required in order to make the project succeed, intellectual property issues connected with providing access to digitized collection, and the end product: the multi-faceted Standford website for the Eliasaf Robinson Collection.

Presented by Zachary Baker at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Seattle, WA.

53 min 30 sec

Posted in: RAS

Over the past several years, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has undertaken vast digitizing projects. More than 10 million pages were involved. This presentation includes descriptions of digitized large collections, problems encountered with storage, access, quality control, and restrictions issues, and plans for the future of the Museum’s archival collections.

Presented by Michlean Amir at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

40 min 31 sec

Posted in: RAS

Panel members will discuss the Washington State Jewish Historical Society Archive (containing manuscripts, oral histories, photographs,and films), created and maintained for over 30 years by collaboration between the Washington State Jewish Historical Society and the University of Washington Libraries. The panel members are Karyl Winn, retired Curator of Manuscripts, University of Washington Libraries, who will speak about the history of the collaboration; Doris Steifel, Washington State Jewish Historical Society, will speak about the WSJHS’s experience and view of the collaboration; Nicolette Bromberg will discuss current projects to process collections and create online access to finding aids and photographs from the collections.

Presented at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

1 hr 12 min 02 sec

Posted in: RAS

Avraham Rosenberg presents a report and evaluation of the conservation of the collection and the restoration of over 1,500 items at the Ets Haim Library in Amsterdam. This paper was presented at the 2009 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, IL.

28 min 54 sec

Posted in: RAS

Two Judaica collections at the University of Chicago Library illustrate the role of private collectors in developing unique resources for research and teaching in Jewish Studies. Although they never met, Ludwig Rosenberger and Harry Sondheim had much in common: both were born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, each had a successful professional career, and both formed unusual and highly important Judaica collections. The works in both collections are chiefly secular, since the aim of the collectors was to understand their own and their family’s history in the broader context of Jewish history and culture. Lastly, both decided to donate their collections to the University of Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center.

Alice Schreyer is Assistant Director for Special Collections and Preservation and Director of the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago Library. She presented this paper at the 2009 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, IL.

19 min 39 sec

Posted in: RAS

Stanford University Libraries acquired the papers of Eisig Silberschlag (1903-1988) in 2003. Silberschlag was recognized as an authority in the field of Hebrew literary criticism and won prizes for his translations of Aristophanes and Menander from Greek into Hebrew as well as for a book of his poems. He was much beloved as a teacher, served as Dean and later President of Hebrew Teachers College in Boston, and ended his career as a visiting professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

What makes this collection unique and valuable to researchers? Silberschlag never moved beyond second-tier status in academia nor did he succeed in having his plays produced by any of the leading theater companies in Israel or the U.S. Yet his correspondence files, which comprise the bulk of the collection, reveal that he was highly regarded by many of the literary and academic luminaries in the world of Hebrew letters and scholarship. The collection contains correspondence from writers S.Y. Agnon and David Vogel; historian Salo Baro; and publisher Avraham Stybel, among many others, and offers glimpses of the 20th century Jewish academic experience in Europe, Palestine and post-1948 Israel; and North America. This guided tour, illustrated by slides, includes excerpts from the collection’s many highlights.

Anna Levia is Assistant to the Curator for Judaica & Hebraica Collections at Stanford University. She presented this paper at the 2009 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, IL.

24 min 14 sec

Posted in: RAS