LISTEN: First-ever Israeli Newspaper a Judaean!

Niv ElisNiv Elis, a Young Judaea and Tel Yehudah alum, recently launched a podcast at the Jerusalem Post, the first original podcast by an Israeli newspaper.  We asked him to share a bit about the project and his journey taking the podcast from idea to a reality.  What we got was so much better!  Click to listen in!


Listen. Listen closely. Listen and you'll hear something you can't read.

Listen to the sound of the camp fire. Listen to the sound of crickets chirping in the field at night. Listen to Shira Shketa, to the raucous Asefa debates, listen to the banging on the tables during Birkat Hamazon.

People have a different relationship with sound than with the printed word. We absorb meaning differently, we sense atmosphere differently, we intellectually process what is being conveyed to us differently when we hear--it as opposed to when we read it. For centuries, Jews have both studied religious text by reading books, and participated in religion communally by chanting it out loud in synagogue.

That special relationship with sound has drawn me to the audio format.

But how rude, I haven’t even introduced myself. My name is Niv Elis. I’m from Pittsburgh, was a life-long Judaean, a CYJ Midwesty, a Mazkirut member from club to national, a Tel Yehudan, and a Year Courser.

And my fascination with audio is kind of funny because, you see, I'm a print journalist. I write about Israel's businesses and economy for the Jerusalem Post, and my daily bread and butter comes from gathering facts and conveying them through ink and pixels. And as much as I love how much I can convey through printed words, there is a whole world, entire regions of the brain that light up when they get the same information through the ear.

If you've ever had to transcribe an interview, you'll know how many “uuuuuhs” and “ummms” and weirdly constructed sentences there are, sentences which no eye would ever want to read. But when you hear the recording, you get the intention, you get the meaning, you get the nuance behind what the person is saying.

That's why I wanted to start a podcast. Weirdly, I discovered that here in Israel, podcasts aren't so big. For some reason, even though every American paper seems to have some sort of audio content, I couldn't find a single Israeli paper with an original podcast. So I pitched the idea to my supervisors at the Post, and they gave me the go ahead. Well, sorta. I could do it, but they couldn't really devote any resources to it. Our tech team was working on launching a new website, our Internet desk was swamped, there was no space for recording. If I could figure it out, we could go ahead with it.

It took months. I wrote e-mails, made phone calls, I downloaded audio software and tested theme music. I chose the simple but effective interview format. I figured out the technical side of things. I collaborated and got input and asked for help and read so many articles online you wouldn’t believe. I pushed, and shoved, and made people meet with me, and did a lot of persuasion, and got everyone on the same page, and finally, finally, finally, this summer, we launched the podcast.

Suddenly, there it was. Live on iTunes. The first original podcast by an Israeli newspaper. 

Now I don't say this lightly, and I'm not saying it because I know I'm talking to a Young Judaea crowd, but I genuinely believe that one of the reasons I was able to get this podcast out was my experience at camp, as a Chanich and then a leader in Young Judaea. The fact that my co-host Tamara is an FZY Year Course alum doesn’t hurt either.

The reason is that in YJ, if you had an idea, you could actually make something happen, whether a really cool Peulah or a change in the movement's ever-important Chukah or a national action campaign. 

I remember in MH having to work to actually produce something, to actually do something with a group of people. The thing I appreciate the most about Young Judaea is that it gave me and my friends an opportunity to lead, to learn first-hand that there is a direct correlation between how much effort you make and what you can accomplish, and fostered the sometimes naive but ever-important belief that nothing is truly impossible. And of course, there's a considerable chance that I never would have come to live in Israel had I not come on Year Course.

Nothing makes me happier than the thought that I can now give back, and tell Judaeans out loud what's going on in Israel, what's happening behind the headlines every week, what the problems and accomplishments in this country are. (And, shameless plug, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast app by searching for JPost).

So thank you for listening. And I can’t wait to hear back from you, to hear about all the amazing things you are doing too.

Niv Elis is the business and economics reporter for The Jerusalem Post, as well as the host of its weekly Frontlines Podcast. Follow Niv on Twitter @telaniv and definitely check out the podcast using the links below, so you can listen in to updates from Israel from the comfort of your own headphones.

Link to most recent podcast episode (published 11/20/14):

Link to article on the podcast launch:

Link to access the podcast on iTunes:

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