Amos Oz has often said he writes with two pens: one for his novels, the other to expose injustices and promote peace.
Jonathan Freedland spoke to the peace activist, the man who believes it is a writer’s duty to confront iniquities no matter how uncomfortable they prove to be.
For Amos Oz, the wrong word in a sentence is as discordant as a false note in a piece of music. Nicholas de Lange has been translating his work since 1971.
Elaine Feinstein and Joseph Sherman write about Jewish writers in Stalin’s Russia. In The Russian Jerusalem, her lyrical novel about history, memory and love, Feinstein concentrates on Marina Tsvetaeva and her contemporaries who had chosen to write in Russian.
This was a nostalgic session on a vanished multicultural Middle East, fragrant Cairo and vibrant Baghdad, where Jews lived in peace with their Muslim neighbours in a Babel of languages.
Monica Bohm-Duchen, author of the first comprehensive monograph on Polish-born, British-domiciled artist Josef Herman and Marc Chagall’s biographer Jackie Wullschlager join Eliane Strosberg who, in Human Expressionism, explored the work of Jewish artists and their avoidance of nihilism i
Then, the sequel to Once, follows Felix and Zelda after they have escaped from the Nazis, but how long can they now survive when there are so many people ready to hand them over for a reward?
He had been commended for the lively pace of his biographies of Stalin and Catherine the Great. From megalomaniac leaders to ordinary people, who believed in the Revolution, but were crushed by its machinery, the move from History to story-making was only natural, or was it?
We discovered the wonderful world of Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar. Physician and lifelong resident of Porto Alegre, Scliar tackled contemporary Brazilian society and Jewish tradition in equal measures.
This was a hilarious session on parents and children, fiction that reads like real life and true stories so incredible they read like fiction. Be among the first to hear excerpts from Olivia Lichtenstein’s soon to be published new novel, Naked Yoga.
In his long awaited work, Marranos: The Other Within. Split Identity and Emerging Modernity. Yirmiyahu Yovel tells the fascinating story of people both rejected by Jews as renegades and by Christians as Jews of impure blood.
What would it be like to be bigger than your parents, and much bigger than your friends? Joe Friedman, author of the “warm, wise and wonderful” Boobela and Worm books, explored being very big and very small. He also explored creating stories and what goes into making a book.
That tensions exist within Israeli society is not headline news.
"The dark menace lurking in the best fairy tales is never far from the surface..."
This session combined an interview and readings, Ruth Padel and Dannie Abse covered writing, love, humour and the role of art, along with the Abse's latest book, The Presence, a stark and moving literary confrontation with absence and loss.
The Just Journalism workshop was facilitated by Director, Rafael Broch, and a number of other JJ staff. Participants learnt about the notion of accountability as it relates to journalism and were introduced to the key sources that form the bedrock for journalistic standards in the UK.
Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, The Counterfeiters retraces the true story of Adolf Burger, recounted in his memoirThe Devil’s Workshop. A typographer by trade, he became one of a group of deportees forced to produce impeccable imitation bank no
Famously, Jonathan Miller can turn his hand and astonishing brain to anything. Always entertaining, and invariably instructive, the redoubtable raconteur revealed his passions and betes noires to Mark Lawson.
This practical creative writing workshop looked at ways of turning your own experiences and memories into moving and amusing Yiddish short stories. Through writing exercises and a close reading of works by writers such as YL Peretz and Sholem Aleichem we explored the humour, courage and imaginati
Dr Irving Finkel, curator of the remarkable exhibition, Babylon: Myth and Reality, at the British Museum, took us back to the times of Jewish exile and looked at the long lasting influence of this outstanding civilisation on Jewish culture.
For most people outside the United States, America's religious fervour conjures up images of intolerance and ultra-conservatism. But Barack Obama captured a large chunk of the evangelical vote and slavery would never have been abolished without the hot gospellers of the nineteenth century.
Born in Chicago, Frederic Raphael moved to England as a boy and his father advised him to grow up to be 'an English gentleman' rather than 'an American Jew'. His first glittering prize was winning a scholarship to Cambridge, followed by an Oscar and general recognition for his witty scripts for
Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, Greville Janner, Labour Member of the House of Lords, has always been passionate about politics. At Cambridge, he was both President of the Union and Union Labour Club.
Nancy Kohner had been left with an amazing stash of letters and photos recording the life of her family in Bohemia up to WW2. She set on a long labour of love to get the documents translated and preserve those memories. She died having just completed the book.
The Jewish mother has been depicted as myth, matriarch and even monstrous.
Frank, funny and telling it like it is Maureen Lipman and Irma Kurtz shared their outlooks on the passing of years.
The nature of individual identity was dissected by two of Britain’s most outstanding intellectuals, renowned for their prominence inmany disciplines and their ability to make complicated issues understandable. They discussed human nature, our past, what makes us individual, the connection between
Who are the Jews? Where did they come from? What is the connection between an ancient Jewish priest in Jerusalem and today’s Israeli sunbather on the beaches of Tel Aviv?
The author of Touching Distance, a novel based on the true story of a brilliant doctor who discovered germ theory a century before Lister, but died with his reputation in tatters, shared with us her fascination for scientific discovery, the difference between truth and knowledge and the
In 1911, eleven-year-old Avram Escovitz is shipped off to Scotland by his mother to escape conscription into the Russian Army. He grows up in the tightly-knit Jewish community in the Glasgow Gorbals. But events lead him to the Highlands, where he is sent to work as a credit draper. The Cred
1997 - produced by Alex Hayim
A poignant and often amusing insight into one of the most exotic and controversial Jewish communities in the Diaspora, this documentary concentrates on the survival struggle of the Jews in India, home of the Bene Israel and Baghdadi communities.
Three times a day for eleven months, the bereaved say the Kaddish, glorifying God and celebrating life, never once alluding to death. Leon Charney and Naftali Brawer discussed what this essential prayer tells us about life and death in Judaism.
In his autobiography, On the Contrary: Leading the Opposition in the New South Africa, Tony Leon, leader of the opposition to the ANC for thirteen years, looks back on a half century of South African politics from the fight to end Apartheid to the birth and near death of the Democratic A
Eva Hoffman and Richard Sennett, both intellectuals and musicians of the highest standing, discussed what makes the difference between a good and a great performer and the very concept of genius.
Recently affianced, filmmaker, journalist, friend of the stars, socialite and bon-viveur, the aptly named Michael Winner has measured out his life in champagne flutes. As he candidly declares: “My greatest passion, by a long way, is me.
Esther Woolfson loves birds. Her family share their home with a rook, a magpie, a starling, a parrot and the inhabitants of an outdoor dovehouse. Corvus is her account of her passion.
A rare documentary based on the unique home movie footage of a group of 14 Jews hiding from the Nazis above the Alcazar night-club in Amsterdam, at the time of the German occupation. Accompanied by contributions from Harry Swaab, who shot the film, and other survivors.
Will there ever have been many people who, at the age of twenty-two, were aware that they could suddenly lose all their potential - I feel unembarrassed saying that I feel I have immense potential, since I think of it as a gift, not as something I own - that it could all be taken away from th
For many of us, nothing makes us feel more Jewish than some chopped liver or gefilte fish? Yet, Jamie Oliver would not approve of the shtetl’s diet.
Clothes matter. How we choose to dress ourselves defines our identity.
The film-maker Hannah Rothschild describes her great aunt Pannonica Rothschild as "the one who got away" from the weight of responsibility attached to the family name.
The Jazzman from the Gulag (1999) directed by Pierre-Henry Salfati.
A superb documentary film, screened at Vancouver's 13th Annual Jewish Film Festival, on the life of Polish-Jewish trumpeter Eddie Rosner, nicknamed the “white Louis Armstrong”.
"A beautiful, thoughtful portrait of the anxieties and paradoxes of modern Jewish life." - Linda Grant on The J-Word
Simon Goldhill's book, Jerusalem, City of Longing, has been published to great reviews: it takes the reader on a vivid, iconoclastic, and surprising tour of Jerusalem -- its history, archaeology and myths.
Betty Miller wrote Farewell Leicester Square, in 1935 but her publisher, Victor Gollancz, ‘turned the book down flat,’ wrote Neal Ascherson in The New York Review of Books.
Set in the aftermath of the Nazi Occupation of France, when shame and fear polluted many a life, Secret tells the troubled story of a sickly boy who grows up with an imaginary brother, aware of what he has always somehow known and yet was never told.
“I’ve started my memoirs three times but I always give up.”
“I don’t know where to begin.”
This session looked into the deeply superstitious nature of the Yiddish language and the ways in which such metaphysical tremulousness contributes to a verbal culture that is more comfortable with negative than positive statements.
Opening with a melange of memoir, twisted folktale and a Yiddish lesson from one of the pioneering figures in the North American storytelling revival, Michael Wex – who believes he would have been the George Formby of Yiddish if he could only sing or play the ukulele… or if he ever made a living
Itsik Malpesh was born the son of a goose-plucking factory manager during the Russian pogroms - his life saved on the night it began by the young daughter of a kosher slaughterer. Or so he believes…
At the core of Yehoshua's novel, Friendly Fire, is the pointless death of a young soldier, the actual meaning of military terminology and the devastating effect it has on his family. An insightful exploration of relationships and of Israeli society today.
Does the language we use when we address God matter? How have conceptions of the divine developed over time and in what way do these inform everyday life and our interactions with others? Our three panellists offered their own unique insights into the topic.
This session was aimed at anyone who would like to write for children. The workshop outlined ways of getting your story on to the page and also discussed how best to try for publication in what is a very difficult economic climate.
We spend much of our lives at work – but surprisingly little gets written about what makes work both one of the most exciting and most painful of all our activities.
Aaron Ben Zeev examined the dark side of romantic love. Disappointed ideals can mutate into frenzied violence and abandoned lovers resort to murder rather than accept that their ex partner has found happiness in someone else’s embrace.
Award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson is fascinated by the irrational.
The townsfolk of Kfar Milim are soon to be opening a Grand Synagogue. They need a new Torah scroll and want no one other than local legend, scribe Rav Katav to write it. But an incident in his past led Rav Katav to swear he’d never write again.
There are many theories about the origins of the various Jewish communities in India but fewer about their slow dissapearance, which can be attributed to internicine struggle rather than external anti-semitism.
Two grandes dames of children’s literature met for the first time ever.
Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset turned political dissenter, meditates on the current position of Israel and that of the Jewish people worldwide, putting forth the radical notion that Jewish society must stop living in the shadow of the Holocaust.
Paul Verhaeghen received the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his truly amazing novelOmega Minor, an exploration of the world of Nazis and Neo-Nazis alike, the destructive logics of The Holocaust and the Bomb, truths that kill and lies that keep alive, passionate love and d
Thomas Buergenthal is a truly remarkable man, now one of the 15 judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, responsible for trying war criminals. He spoke here to Philippe Sands about his journey from Auschwitz to The Hague and his faith in justice.
Hailed by the New Republic as possibly “the most important book of history that anyone will ever read”, Who Will Write Our History? tells the astounding story of Emanuel Ringelblum, who set up a clandestine operation to collect and preserve 35,000 documents in tin boxes buried u
Alessandro Piperno’s books have been described as post-Primo Levi literature. His novel,The Worst Intentions, is an irreverent description of 3 generations of a rich Jewish family from Turin.
Both Samir El-Youssef and Seth Freedman understand profoundly what it means to lack a sense of belonging – a sense that many of us can take for granted. Both have directly experienced the complexities of the Middle East conflict and the suffering it engenders.
JBW 2009 hosted Six Exclusive one on one 50 minute sessions with Tiffany Murray, experienced Arvon tutor and well known writer.
Suzanne Franks and Rebecca Abrams explored the mysterious world of teenagers and gave parents some tips on how to survive the period, remain sane and still love our kids.
David Cesarani discussed his groundbreaking new book about the brutal murder of Jewish activist Alexander Rubowitz in Palestine in May 1947.
Sunday 1 March was the final day of Jewish Book Week 2009. The main festival ran from 21 February to 1 March at London's Royal National Hotel. More than 100 challenging and entertaining speakers took part in 79 sessions, presenting arguments and many different points of view.