Lilly Brett at Yom Hashoah

April 14, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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New York-based internationally acclaimed author Lily Brett will deliver the keynote address at this year’s major Yom Hashoah ceremony in Sydney.

Lilly Brett

Lilly Brett

Organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies,  the ceremony will mark 71 years since the Holocaust and the theme for this year’s commemoration will be Creative Responses to the Holocaust. 

It will be held on Thursday evening May 5 in the Recital Hall at Angel Place.

Brett was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany to parents who survived six years as a couple in the Lodz ghetto in Poland, after which they were transported to Auschwitz. They were separated, but reunited six months after the war. She immigrated to Melbourne with her parents and, despite spending her youth travelling the world as a rock journalist, remained shadowed by the trauma of her parents’ past.

Her life-long attempt to understand what her parents had experienced during the Holocaust has manifested in novels, essays and poetry. Her best known books, Just Like That (1994) and Too Many Men (1999), feature feisty, neurotic Jewish women with survivor-parents and writing careers. Her most recent work of fiction, Lola Bensky (2014), is also in many ways a mirror of Brett as she again borrowed from her past.

Avril Alba

Avril Alba

In line with this year’s theme, Brett has explained that her parents’ history compelled her to write. “In an important way, it liberated me,” she said.

Brett will be interviewed by Dr Avril Alba, Holocaust lecturer at the University of Sydney, after her keynote address.

The event will include a Righteous Among The Nations segment which honours those who at great personal risk saved Jews during the Holocaust. Alister Henskens SC MP, Member for Ku-ring-gai, will relate his family’s actions during the Holocaust, saving three Jews from the Nazis. Other elements will include survivor testimony and a guest performance by Ilan Kidron, ARIA award-winning singer and former lead singer of The Potbelleez.

This year’s ceremony will also feature a new segment featuring Gen 3 – the grandchildren of survivors – in a youth movement music choir.

This event is made possible through the JCA, the JCA Millie Philips Jewish Education Fund, Multicultural NSW and the B’nai B’rith Sydney Lodge Charitable Trust.

On May 1, a memorial service and name-reading ceremony, “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, will be held at The Great Synagogue starting at 10.30. These events are being organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, with support from the Sydney Jewish Museum and Australia Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants Inc.


One Response to “Lilly Brett at Yom Hashoah”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    I have always wondered why Lily Brett never mentions that she has a sister, the Melbourne writer, Doris Brett? It is as if she doesn’t exist, and yet she grew up with her in Melbourne.

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