The recent Sydney Jewish Writers Festival held on August 29-30 at Waverley Library showcased many talented writers.
As SJWF Program & Marketing Manager Sharon Berger told JewishWorldLife: “We had to move the SJWF to a bigger venue because we’re so lucky to have so many amazing Jewish authors in our community.”
A number of writers came from Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia, and there were also amazing international guests.
Writer and director of Emmy award-winning TV series Homeland and Prisoners of War (Hatufim) Gideon Raff observed, that the prisoners of war were also their “wives, siblings, parents, children… maybe the whole country”. He also spoke about his latest projects that include a new feature about the Mossad operation that brought the Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
How silence helps perpetuate injustice played out in a number of presentations such as Julie Szego’s account of how a young Somali who was wrongly convicted of a terrible crime in Victoria was eventually freed while Dr Karimi, son of a Jewish orphan who married a Muslim in Iran, outlined his work and how he risked his life helping women there avoid shame and death.
Further on this theme was the incredible presentation by German-Nigerian author Jennifer Teege. Her compelling account – how she accidentally discovered that her grandfather was the notorious brutal Nazi commandant who Oscar Schindler faced off and how she searched for answers, detailed in her book “My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me” was truly stranger than fiction.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer’s talk on his research for his book about General Sir John Monash was entertaining as well as informative. Fischer revealed that as a child, Monash met Ned Kelly, as an engineer he created the dome of the State Library of Victoria’s Reading Room, and as a military hero he was so popular with the Australian public he could have become Prime Minister – no less than the Don denying he was the greatest Australian in favour of Monash.
The festival’s importance was well summed up by Director of the Jewish Culture & Society program at the University of Melbourne Dvir Abramovich who told JewishWorldLife: “It’s a wonderful platform for local and international talent to engage with the local community – both Jewish and non-Jewish.”
Review by Paula Towers