Jewish Writers’ Festival a success

September 2, 2013 by J-Wire
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Around 400 people have attended the 6th Sydney Jewish Writers’ Festival.

Deena Schiff, John M Green Zohar

Deena Schiff, John M Green, Michael Bar- Zohar     All photos: Henry Benjamin


Following a sold-out pre-event with internationally acclaimed French author Laurent Binet last Thirsday, the crowds were rapt by Sunday’s top calibre program

Traditionally the SJWF has been a biennial event but following the success of the 2012 festival, it was decided to hold a smaller-scale event this year. “The response to our festival events this year has been far from smaller-scale,” Festival director Michael Misrachi said. “It is clear that the great Jewish literary talent out there is matched by the desire of the community to engage with Jewish writing.”

Visiting Israeli professor Michael Bar-Zohar’s sessions on terrorism and Israeli spy agency, the Mossad, met with rave reviews.  It was standing room only as he told tales of the Ethiopian airlift, Black September and the murder of the Israeli athletes in Munich, and Israel’s efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear program.

Patrons also flocked to hear visiting Israeli journalist Boaz Bismuth and Middle East analyst Lydia Khalil talk about the so-called Arab Spring.  They discussed the risks involved in an attack on Syria, the challenges of translating change in civil society to political success, and the potential role for the international community.

Other stand-out speakers included social commentator Hugh Mackay who shared his research and wisdom about what makes a good life, intermingled with Jewish ideas raised by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie who interviewed him. Andrea Goldsmith discussed the role of memory and monuments in our lives. Iranian Jew Kooshyar Karimi revealed the heavy price he paid for acting against the Iranian government. Academics David Bird and Christopher Waters illuminated a relatively unknown but fascinating part of Australian history discussing pro-Nazi sympathisers in Australia and the policy of appeasement led by PM Menzies. Bryan Gaensler wowed audiences with the origins of the universe.

Patrons enjoyed the diverse program, engaging speakers as well as the opportunity to have their books signed by the authors at the Festival bookshop. A numbers of books sold out.

The organisers are looking forward to more excellent programming in 2014.

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