Between the Lines: Author Conversations from the Library of JTS
Between the Lines: Author Conversations from the Library of JTS
An ongoing lecture series featuring authors of newly published books. (Formerly "JTS Library Book Talks")
The Art of the Jewish Family: A History Of Women In Early New York In Five Objects
A DISCUSSION WITH AUTHOR DR. LAURA ARNOLD LEIBMANIn "The Art of the Jewish Family" Dr. Laura Arnold Leibman examines five objects owned by a diverse group of Jewish women who lived in New York between the years 1750 and 1850. Each chapter creates a biography of a single woman through an object, offering a new methodology that looks past texts alone to material culture in order to further understand early Jewish American women’s lives and restore their agency as creators of Jewish identity.This event was sponsored by The JTS Library. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.ABOUT DR. LAURA ARNOLD LEIBMANLaura Arnold Leibman is a professor of English and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Her work focuses on religion and the daily lives of women and children in early America and uses everyday objects to help bring their stories back to life. She has been a visiting fellow at Oxford University, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Utrecht, the University of Panama, and Bard Graduate Center. Her second book, Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (2012) uses material culture to retell the history of early American Jews, and won a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award and a National Jewish Book Award, and was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. She is currently writing about an early multiracial Jewish family who began their lives as slaves in the Caribbean and became some of the wealthiest Jews in New York.
Jun 24, 2020
1 hr 12 min
Voices from the Warsaw Ghetto: Writing Our History
A discussion with JTS's Dr. David G. Roskies about his powerful new collection of writings from the Warsaw Ghetto, recording the Holocaust from the perspective of its first interpreters, the victims themselves.Hidden in metal containers and buried underground during World War II, these works from the Warsaw Ghetto record the Holocaust from the perspective of its first interpreters, the victims themselves. Gathered clandestinely by an underground ghetto collective called Oyneg Shabes, the collection of reportage, diaries, prose, artwork, poems, jokes, and sermons captures the heroism, tragedy, humor, and social dynamics of the ghetto. Miraculously surviving the devastation of war, this extraordinary archive encompasses a vast range of voices—young and old, men and women, the pious and the secular, optimists and pessimists—and chronicles different perspectives on the topics of the day while also preserving rapidly endangered cultural traditions. Described by Roskies as “a civilization responding to its own destruction,” these texts tell the story of the Warsaw Ghetto in real time, against time, and for all time.Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, serves as moderator.
Jan 23, 2020
1 hr
Abraham Joshua Heschel: Mind, Heart, Soul
In his magisterial new biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dr. Edward K. Kaplan tells the engrossing, behind-the-scenes story of the life, philosophy, struggles, yearnings, writings, and activism of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding Jewish thinkers. Following this extraordinary figure through his Hasidic childhood in Warsaw to his pursuit of a doctorate in Berlin to his escape from the Nazis to the United States, and into his courageous activism as a voice for nonviolent social action—Heschel marched with Martin Luther King Jr., expressed strong opposition to the Vietnam War, and helped reverse long-standing antisemitic Catholic Church doctrine on Jews—Kaplan paints a timely portrait of a remarkable religious leader.Dr. Eitan Fishbane, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought, JTS, served as moderator.
Dec 11, 2019
1 hr 16 min
Introducing The Evolution of Torah: a history of rabbinic literature
Episode 1: Who Were the Rabbis?What led to the emergence of the group of scholars and teachers we call the Rabbis? What motivated them and what did they value? The Rabbis looked to their forebear, Hillel, as an exemplar of religious leadership, and in this episode, we’ll look at three stories they told about Hillel to see what we can learn about the Rabbis’ self-conception.Subscribe now:Apple podcasts: by Rabbi Tim BernardCover art: Rabbi Tim BernardTheme music: Stock media provided by u19_studios / Pond5
Nov 27, 2019
13 min
Job: A New Translation
A Discussion with Translator Edward L. GreensteinThe Book of Job has often been called the greatest poem ever written. The book, in Edward Greenstein’s characterization, is “a Wunderkind, a genius emerging out of the confluence of two literary streams,” which “dazzles like Shakespeare with unrivaled vocabulary and a penchant for linguistic innovation.” Despite the text’s literary prestige and cultural prominence, no English translation has come close to conveying the proper sense of the original. The book has consequently been misunderstood in innumerable details and in its main themes.Edward Greenstein’s new translation of Job is the culmination of decades of intensive research and painstaking philological and literary analysis, offering a major reinterpretation of this canonical text. Through his beautifully rendered translation and insightful introduction and commentary, Greenstein presents a new perspective: Job, he shows, was defiant of God until the end. The book is more about speaking truth to power than the problem of unjust suffering.Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.Edward L. Greenstein is professor emeritus of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and a prolific, world-renowned scholar in many areas of biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies.
Nov 20, 2019
1 hr 5 min
Confronting Hate
As hate crimes and domestic terrorism dominate the headlines, the legacy of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum as a leader in interfaith and race relations in the United States and around the world becomes more and more relevant with each atrocity that is perpetrated in the name of racial purity, religion and rectitude. His widow, humanitarian and philanthropist Dr. Georgette Bennett, discusses the first-ever biography of Rabbi Tanenbaum, Confronting Hate: The Untold Story of the Rabbi Who Stood Up for Human Rights, Racial Justice and Religious Reconciliation by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober. From his position as director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Tanenbaum was deeply involved in the historic Vatican II Council, which promulgated a landmark encyclical on Catholic-Jewish relations. Rabbi Tanenbaum also was one of the few Jewish leaders who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, Reverend Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders. Inspired by his tradition’s ethic of social justice, he worked tirelessly as a civil rights activist and helped lead the Soviet Jewry liberation movement.Confronting Hate details Rabbi Tanenbaum’s remarkable career and interactions with civil rights legends such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson as well as several US presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush. Above all, its authors bring to light the immense international influence and relevance that Rabbi Tanenbaum has for today’s world, more than twenty-five years after his passing. Indeed, at a time when our world is riven by conflict, partisanship and hate, the lessons of his life could not be more timely. This event was co-sponsored by The JTS Library, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, and the New York Board of Rabbis. Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, JTS, served as moderator.
Oct 29, 2019
57 min
Introducing What Now? A JTS Podcast
In this opening episode of JTS’s new podcast, What Now?, host Sara Beth Berman tells her story and speaks with Professor Alan Mittleman. Dr. Mittleman shares his own experiences with loss, framing tragedies as taking place in a world that is nevertheless good and that gives us reason for hope. We also learn why giving Professor Mittleman advice is never a good idea. Subscribe now:RSS: Podcasts: Cover art: Aura LewisTheme music: “Jat Poure”by Blue Dot Sessions ( The Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious & Social Studies at JTS.Contact us at, and find other JTS podcasts at
Jun 2, 2019
29 min
Four Rabbis at Lunch
Four rabbis from a local community—one Orthodox, two Conservative, and one Reform—meet each week at a local kosher deli to discuss Jewish law, theology, and synagogue business. This new work of fiction from Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is an opportunity to be the proverbial fly on the wall and find out what rabbis talk about when no one else is listening. Dov Peretz Elkins is a nationally known lecturer, educator, author, and book critic. He is a popular speaker on the Jewish circuit. Ordained at JTS, Rabbi Elkins is a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award, and is the author of over fifty books. His Chicken Soup For The Jewish Soul was on the NY Times best-seller list. Among Rabbi Elkins’ other books are Rosh Hashanah Readings: Inspiration, Information and Contemplation, Yom Kippur Readings, and The Wisdom of Judaism: An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud. His most recent books are Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and Soul (Jewish Lights), Tales of the Righteous (Gefen Publishing), In the Spirit: Insights for Spiritual Renewal in the 21st Century (Kodesh Press), For Those Left Behind: A Jewish Anthology of Comfort and Healing (Mazo Publishers), Four Rabbis At Lunch: Candid Conversations Among American Clergy (KTAV), and To Climb The Rungs: Memoirs of a Rabbi (Mazo Publishers).
May 28, 2019
51 min
The Paris Photo
Dr. Jane S. Gabin's historical novel looks at the complicated life and aftermath of the occupation of Paris during WWII and spotlights Jewish experiences during the Nazi occupation of the city. Her debut novel intertwines the two timelines of postwar Paris and the current day as a young woman seeks answers when she finds an old picture of her father, a U.S. Army private, with two women and a small boy in Paris after the war. Wishing to learn more about her father, she travels to Paris to try to find this young boy. Combining history, romance, and mystery, The Paris Photo reveals how wartime trauma can persist into the present.Dr. Jane S. Gabin holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has continued her career as an educational counselor and lecturer. Most recently, she has taught at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University. The Paris Photo is her first novel.
Mar 20, 2019
1 hr
Movies and Midrash
Dr. Wendy Zierler's Movies and Midrash pioneers the use of cinema as a springboard to discuss central Jewish texts and matters of belief. Exploring what Jewish tradition, text, and theology have to say about the lessons and themes arising from influential and compelling films, Zierler uses the method of “inverted midrash”: while classical rabbinical midrash begins with exegesis of a verse and then introduces a mashal (parable) as a means of further explication, Zierler turns that process around, beginning with the culturally familiar cinematic parable and then analyzing related Jewish texts. ABOUT THE AUTHORWendy Zierler is Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR in New York. Prior to joining HUC-JIR she was a research fellow in the English Department of the University of Hong Kong.She received her PhD and MA from Princeton University and her BA from Yeshiva University. In December 2016 she also received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of Movies and Midrash: Popular Film and Jewish Religious Conversation (SUNY 2017, Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience, 2017) and of And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Hebrew Women’s Writing (Wayne State UP, 2004), and co-editor with Carole Balin, of Behikansi atah, a collection of the Hebrew writings of Hava Shapiro 1878-1943 (Resling Press, 2008). To Tread on New Ground: Selected Writings of Hava Shapiro, her English translation of Shapiro’s writings, also co-edited with Carole Balin, was published by Wayne State University Press in 2014. In 2017 she became Co-Editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History. Most recently she joined the Advanced Kollel: Executive Ordination track at Yeshivat Maharat.
Dec 13, 2018
1 hr 11 min
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