Welcome to lectures by Walter Ziffer! Walter has been a member of Beth Israel Congregation since the early 1990's. On this page you will find links to sound files designed to illuminate various issues of interest to the Jewish community, currently featuring Dr. Ziffer, a Hebrew Bible and New Testament scholar.
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Walter Ziffer, 2007 (age 79)
The Latest: Walter's Yom Kippur Speech, 2012
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE MP3 FILES ON THIS WEB SITE
Using the Ipod for Learning Judaism
MP3 players offer a superb way to learn almost any topic, especially, in this regard, topics about Judaism.
Scared by technology? Don't be -- this video has been prepared to allay these fears, by showing just how easy it is to bring files into an Ipod, and then organize these files for learning.
Click the link above to watch the video, which requires the Flash player (there
is a 99% chance you have this installed already). Also, there is audio in the
file, so make sure that your speaker volume is set to the correct level. If
you're using Internet Explorer, press the F11 key to hide your toolbars to show
more of the video (afterwards, hit F11 again to restore your toolbar).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this video was prepared in 2007, the prices for the players have changed, the model numbers have changed, and the amount of available space has changed. The essential principles remain the same, but the preferred player is now the Sansa Fuze 4 GB MP3 Player with microSD Expansion Slot, a very good buy at $49 street price in late 2008. The Sansa is superior to the iPod in a number of areas (for example, it's cheaper, it records, the memory is expandable, it allows you to subscribe to the excellent Rhapsody service more easily, it plays all the media formats on this site [unlike the iPod], and it also seems to be better built, even though the interface is not as slick as the iPod's).
Once you have learned how to make your MP3 player work, you will then be able to download the MP3 files on this web site to your hard drive, for later listening...
Windows Media (Listen Now and on Sansa Players [not iPods])
Walter Ziffer: On Being A Christian (Part
1 of 2)
Walter discusses his conversion to Christianity. The first 15 or so minutes of the file are also devoted to a discussion of his experience with anti-Semitism in pre-Holocaust Europe.
Walter Ziffer: On Mel Gibson's Passion
(Part 2 of 2)
A continuation of the previous discussion. In this audio file, Walter explains (brilliantly I must say) the meaning of Mel Gibson's film Passion for Christians. I'd never thought I could understand the appeal, but after hearing Walter explain it over the course of 50 minutes or so, I have a much deeper understanding not only of Gibson's film but also of Christianity, and now can see what Christians see in the film, from their point of view. Essential listening!
Preliminary Discussion on the Holocaust (Part 1 of 3) 25 min/23 mb/Windows
Media 8 [2 min 30 sec download broadband]
Recorded on April 11, 2004. I began my discussion with Walter with some preliminary topics related to the Holocaust including the French law banning "ostentatious" religious apparel in schools, the topic of "6 million Jews" killed in concentration camps, and Holocaust revisionists.
Life in the Slave Labor Camps (Part 2 of 3) 50 min/45 mb/Windows Media 8 [5 min
In this section, the main part of our conversation, Walter describes what life was like in the "camps" in which he was interred during World War II. ESSENTIAL LISTENING.
Ziffer: Theological Implications of the Holocaust, and Lessons Learned (Part
3 of 3) 38 minutes/35 mb/Windows Media 8 [4 min download broadband]
In the third and final section of this series, Walter discusses the theological implications of the Holocaust and what it has to teach us, as well as ways of preventing future Holocausts in the future. [Note: in the conversation, we discuss an article [printed out on April 10, 2004] on Holocaust theology published on Wikipedia; here's a link to that article, if you want to read along. Depending on when you are listening to the audio file, the contents of that article may have changed.]
Ziffer: The Birth of Christianity from the Matrix of Judaism
98 minutes /Windows Media 9
This was a lecture given on October 11 at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. The room was filled, over 300 people were in attendance. The recording has some room noise.
MP3 (Download for later computer or iPod listening)
The files below can be downloaded
to your computer.
Right-click on the link, choose "Save Target As", and save it to your hard drive.
If you have a broadband connection, depending on the time of day and the speed of your connection,
it will take anywhere from 2to 10 minutes (and perhaps longer) to download each file.
Once you have the file, you can then load it into your iPod or other MP3 player for off-line listening (the recommended approach),
or you can listen on your computer.
If you have a dial-up connection, downloading the files
will take well over an hour per file. Get a broadband connection!
Alternatively, you can just click on the file to listen to it . . .
The Holocaust: Personal Relections 41 minutes / MP3
Recorded at the University of North Carolina, Asheville on March 20, 2013, at 7 PM. In his most personal talk yet, Walter described what the Holocaust meant to him.
Q/A Session with a Christian Study Group 83 minutes / MP3
Recorded at 2 Town Square in Biltmore Park, on April 13, 2010, between 6 and 7:30 PM. Walter graciously agreed to answer questions for a Christian study group that met regularly on Friday mornings. Topics covered included the Holocaust and Christian and Jewish theology.
Rabbinic Judaism: If Not Now, When? 60 minutes / MP3
Recorded at Walter's home on February 9, 2010. Few Jews today read the Bible literally. Even the Orthodox Jews have non-literal interpretations of Commandments such as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". This is because the Bible is only half the story: the other half, referred to as the Oral Torah, is found in the Talmud. This lecture discusses the impact of rabbinic Judaism on Jewish thought.
This lecture is recorded on six separate tracks, to make the iPod navigation easier. Click the link above, then download the .zip file to your hard drive, extract the files, then bring onto your iPod. (Macintosh users will need to have a program that extracts .zip files). If you want to hear a sample of the lecture first, here is a link to the first track.
Walter Ziffer: Is Judaism Important?
66 minutes / MP3
Is Judaism important? This hour-long conversation discusses the question from 3 angles: 1) yes, Judaism is important, but for negative reasons (as suggested by many atheists [including noted Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins], with critical commentary of this view), 2) no, it is not important (another view with which Walter strenuously disagrees), and 3) yes, it is important, for positive reasons (the view which he holds).
Walter Ziffer: The Holocaust and God: A Survivor Reflects 37 minutes / MP3
Yom HaShoah Lecture by Dr. Ziffer at Congregation B'nai Israel in Gainesville, Fl., April 15, 2007.
New Testament Series: Part 1: New Testament Literature and Analysis 100+
The first file in a four-part series on the New Testament, designed to introduce Jews to a book as significant to them as the one they read weekly in the synagogue. This lecture was given on a Sunday morning at congregation Beth Israel in Asheville, North Carolina in November, 2006.
New Testament Series: Part 2: Jesus of Nazareth: His Milieu, Life, and Death
100+ minutes/ MP3
The second file in this four-part series on the New Testament, covering the life of Jesus.
Ziffer: New Testament Series: Part 3: Paul of Tarsus: His Modification of Judaism
60+ minutes/ MP3
The third file, giving what for Jewish people is a sympathetic treatment of St. Paul.
Ziffer: New Testament Series: Part 4: Judaism and Christianity: Religions in
Competition 66 minutes/MP3
The final lecture in the series, covering how this offshoot of Judaism later emerged to be what many people see as a completely different religion, by exploring the source of early conflicts between Christians and Jews.
Walter Ziffer: Lecture to Sunday School Students: Life in Germany Pre-Holocaust (Part 1) 44 minutes/MP3
Presented to Sunday School students in Beth Israel on December 2, 2007. There were approximately 12 students in the room, with grades from 5 through 7 represented, along with about 6 parents. Walter discusses anti-Semitic incidents in Czechoslovakia, explaining the background of the Holocaust. Recorded without headset to better get the comments of the students.
Walter Ziffer: Lecture to Sunday School Students: Life in the Work Camps (Part 2) 47 minutes/MP3
The second part of the lecture to Beth Israel Sunday School students. In this section, recorded with a headset for better sound quality, Walter discusses the life in the work camps, with the most graphic details admitted to spare the sensibilities of the young students. Essential listening for those who want a shorter, less graphic version of those terrible times.
Walter Ziffer: In Search of God: From History to Metaphor 55 minutes/MP3
The Phyllis Free Solod lecture at the Center for Jewish Studies at UNCA, given on March 13, 2008.
Walter Ziffer: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): Tales of Shame & Tales of Heroism 73 minutes/MP3
A lecture at the Center for Jewish Studies at UNCA, given on November 5, 2008, the night after Barack Obama's election (which explains his references to contemporary events in the lecture). As usual, the auditorium was packed. Dr. Ziffer explains the political background of Kristallnacht, and how it foreshadowed the anti-Jewish atrocities that followed. The lecture discusses some specifically Christian reactions to the drama based on Walter's personal post-war experiences with Christians who played significant roles in the outcome of the tragedy.
Walter Ziffer: Recycling the Bible, Part 1 115 minutes/MP3
On February 15, 2009, Walter presented the first of a three part series on how tales in the Hebrew Bible have been used (and modified) by other religions. This introductory lecture provides an introduction to key religious texts, including the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and Koran. The handout.
Walter Ziffer: Recycling the Bible, Part 2 115 minutes/MP3
On February 22, 2009, Walter presented the 2d of his series on how tales in the Hebrew Bible have been used (and modified) by other religions. This 2d lecture discusses some key mistranslations of the Bible. The handout.
Walter Ziffer: Recycling the Bible, Part 3 132 minutes/MP3
On March 1, 2009, Walter presented the last of his three part series. This 3rd lecture is the heart of the discussion, pointing out how key texts in the "Old Testament" have been "cloned and extended" by Christianity and Islam. The handout.
Walter Ziffer: Friday Night Service MP3
An historical record of the Friday Night Service at Beth Israel before 2007, put here not only for archival purposes but also as a resource for those who want to learn the basic prayers of the Jewish Sabbath service. Download the .zip file, extract the .zip file, and load on your iPod/Sansa. The text used is the Conservative prayerbook Siddur Sim Shalom, copyright 1985, ISBN 0-916219-01-1.
Walter Ziffer: Saturday Morning Service Part 1 MP3
Part 1 of the historical record of the Saturday Morning Service at Beth Israel before 2007. Download the .zip file, extract the .zip file, and load on your iPod/Sansa.
Walter Ziffer: Saturday Morning Service Part 2 MP3
Part 2 of the historical record of the Saturday Morning Service at Beth Israel before 2007. Download the .zip file, extract the .zip file, and load on your iPod/Sansa.
Walter Ziffer: "Love Letter To God" Rosh Hashanah Speech 2013 PDF
Compiled/maintained by Barry Krusch.