The Sydney Jewish Writers Festival

July 20, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Shalom │ Sydney Jewish Writers Festival (SJWF) returns in August 2018 with a diverse range of international guests, local talent and timeless tales of survival and triumph.

This year’s Festival leads with a pre-Festival event: Storytellers on Tuesday 21 August at 7pm at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre. Storytellers will feature wordsmiths Donna Jacobs-Sife, Bruria Hammer and Matt Friedman, poets David Ades and Les Sher reading their poems, and musical performances by Old Man River, Miriam Lieberman, Nadav Kahn and Lior.

The official opening night will take place at Bondi Pavilion on Thursday 23 August at 7pm, and will feature journalist and host of ABC’s The Drum Ellen Fanning in conversation with a showstopping international guest author: Masha Gessen. Gessen is a Russian-American journalist, author, translator and activist who has been an outspoken critic of Putin and Trump. Masha Gessen is the author of nine books, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which was awarded the National Book Award in the United States in 2017.

The Festival’s main offering unfolds at Waverley Library on Sunday 26 August with the breathtakingly talented author of Brit(ish), Afua Hirsch. Hirsch is a writer, broadcaster and former barrister whose work explores the complexities of navigating the tensions of her own layered identity with the racism that she sees evident in British society.

Other highlights include:

  • On Borrowed Time: Robert Manne in conversation with Caroline Baum. Professor Robert Manne is the author of countless books, articles and essays about wide-ranging topics like climate change, asylum-seekers, the media and Islamic State. His latest book deals with his own mortality, the future and his love of life.
  • Reading Horror: Helen Lewis in conversation with Michaela Kalowski. In The Dead Still Cry Out, Helen Lewis writes about her father’s extraordinary experience photographing the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. The child of Jewish refugees, Mike Lewis’ images shocked him and the world. Helen explores the issues around the use of photographs as source documents and the ethics and aesthetics of viewing images of atrocity.
  •  Journalist and columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald, Peter FitzSimons talking about Monash’s Masterpiece, his latest historical work which brings us a uniquely Australian insight into the famous Battle of Hamel.
  • Fictionalising the Holocaust, featuring Heather Morris (The Tattooist of Auschwitz), Lauren Chater (The Lace Weaver) and Kirsty Manning (The Jade Lily). It is often said that fiction can explore and explain trauma more viscerally than factual details. Through three very different books this session delves into that process and how it can illuminate the horrors and terrors of Auschwitz, the escape of Jews to Shanghai and the onslaught of Stalin’s Red Army into the Baltic States.
  • Ros Ben-Moshe in a session entitled Where it all Begins: Laughing at Adversity. Ros’s approach to life is that love, laughter and mindfulness can help us overcome all types of adversity. As a Global Laughter Ambassador and Founder of LaughLife Wellbeing Programs, Ros has a unique way of embracing a positive mindset to enhance resilience during life’s prickly moments. This session will awake your inner smile and remind you to live your life to its fullest.


We are so excited by the diversity and talent of this year’s Festival. It is always such a privilege to work with passionate authors and 2018 is no exception. SJWF2018 will challenge you, delight you and take you places you never imagined it possible to go.’ Justine Saidman, Festival Director.

SJWF will once again be hosted by Waverley Council, with events taking place at the Bondi Pavilion and Waverley Library.

For further information or to book tickets, visit

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