Successful Writers Festival

August 25, 2014 by Sharon Berger
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The Sydney Jewish Writers Festival has reinforced its place at the forefront of innovative cultural and intellectual Jewish programming in Sydney.

Festival Director Michael Misrachi paid tribute to the diverse and dynamic range of authors and presenters from across Australia, the US and Israel who made the 2014 SJWF program so brilliant.

The 2014 Sydney Jewish Writers Festival kicked off with a sold-out event featuring John Safran’s show, Murder in Mississippi. The crowd were enthralled by the provocative and entertaining back- story to Safran’s acclaimed book.

The festival continued on Saturday night with a stimulating evening focused on Israel. Israeli analyst Dr Yoaz Hendel and Prisoner X author Rafael Epstein opened with a fascinating discussion about the challenges faced by nation-states in balancing security and democracy.

The Four Faces of Israel

The Four Faces of Israel               Photo: David Sokol

This session was followed by a one-woman play, Four Faces of Israel, by Israeli/Australian actress Helen Gottstein. Her interactive performance was so compelling and stirring that some audience members almost walked out in offence. Nonetheless, the audience was riveted by the passionate yet nuanced ‘faces’ of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that she portrayed.

ohn Safran and moderator Caroline Marcus after John’s Murder in Mississippi show Photo: David Sokol

John Safran and moderator Caroline Marcus after John’s Murder in Mississippi show
Photo: David Sokol

Throughout Sunday, sessions included interviews with Oscar-winning producer Emile Sherman about storytelling on the big screen, The New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum on the role of television, and spirituality writer Dr Michael Kagan, as well as panels on the Holocaust, sexuality, Israel and historical fiction.

Queue for Jon Safran's signature

Queue for Jon Safran’s signature

The Festival was topped off with a unique opportunity to not only hear from, but also to eat the delicious food of the Monday Morning Cooking Club. Patrons enjoyed a light supper based on the recipes of the Monday Morning Cooking Club while hearing the history behind the recipes as well as many other wonderful Jewish gastronomical delights.

Misrachi said, “It was a very nourishing finale to an intellectually stimulating and interesting program”.

Misrachi noted that Jewish book- and theatre-lovers should not miss the opportunity to see The Chosen, the iconic play based on the book by Chaim Potok. Co-produced by Encounters@ Shalom and Moira Blumenthal Productions, it runs from 27 August to 14 September at Shalom College, UNSW. The Chosen tells the story of two boys, two fathers, and two very different Jewish communities… Five blocks and world apart. Bookings can be made online at or 9381 4160






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