Untold stories of war and survival lead at the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival

July 22, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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The Sydney Jewish Writers Festival (SJWF) has  launched its program in preparation for its festival on 27-28 August 2016.

 Kim Slender, Dr Arne Rubinstein, Adam Schwartz, Joanne Fedler at 2015 festival

Kim Slender, Dr Arne Rubinstein, Adam Schwartz, Joanne Fedler at 2015 festival

It features a remarkable line-up of international award-winners, thought leaders, acclaimed authors, new talent, and plenty of extraordinary stories.

“Following five sold-out pop up events this year already with international superstars Simon Sebag Montefiore and Etgar Keret, baby Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Eva Orner, we have incredible momentum moving towards the festival”, enthused Festival Director Michael Misrachi.

Award-winning Israeli author and journalist Matti Friedman whose new book Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story was described by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kai Bird as “destined to become a classic text on the absurdities of war”, leads the international guest list at SJWF. Friedman’s work went viral when he critiqued media coverage of Israel after its 2014 war with Gaza.

He will be joined on opening night by stereotype-defying Rabbi Dov Lipman, former Member of the Knesset and campaigner against religious extremism in Israel.

In the spirit of the Helen Mirren movie Woman In Gold, US-based author Dina Gold shares her incredible search and long legal battle to reclaim a building that belonged to her German-Jewish family but was stolen by the Nazis. Precious possessions lost during the Holocaust also feature in the fiction of New Zealand author, Julie Thomas.

SJWF will host the Sydney launch of Rebellious Daughters and feature hot-off-the-press authors Steven Amsterdam, Nathan Besser and Meredith Jaffe.

Leading figures David Gonski and Mark Tedeschi open up about their writing, along with Mireille Juchau, whose recent masterpiece The World Without Us won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for The Stella Prize and Australian Book Industry Award.

SJWF features prolific acclaimed author Arnold Zable, who will also talk about his work as a refugee advocate with Kooshyar Karimi, who shares his experience as a Jewish-Iranian refugee who languished in Turkey for years.

Holocaust survivor Baba Schwartz tells her story publicly for the first time, recounting the horrors of Auschwitz as well as her happy childhood in Hungary, a period often overshadowed by the subsequent tragedy. She is joined by Frank Vajda and Marcel Weyland, who were both saved by Righteous of the Nations – Raoul Wallenberg and Chiune Sugihara respectively.

SJWF offers writing workshops for adults with Lee Kofman and for children with word play extraordinaire Erica Bentel, in conjunction with PJ Library. There is also a special parent-child session with the mother-daughter creative genius behind Tashi, Barbara and Anna Fienberg.

“We are thrilled to showcase such a fine and fascinating line-up”, said Misrachi. “They stir us to grapple with big, global issues – war, religious extremism, refugees, end of life, and family dynamics – but also write beautifully and invite us to enjoy the poetry and music of life.”

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

Sydney Jewish Writers Festival is a program of Encounters@Shalom, part of The Shalom Institute.


One Response to “Untold stories of war and survival lead at the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    From this post, just read Matti Friedman’s essay on the media and Israel – so lucid, precise and comprehensive. Beautiful writing and a compelling read. If only ‘the world’ would read it. (I know, those that don’t want to be affected would not be … still they’d be pretty hard-pressed to pose cogent arguments.)

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