Tuesday, 8 September 2015

2015 Sydney Jewish Writers Festival highlights

By Sharon Berger

Memories of last week’s hugely successful Sydney Jewish Writers Festival may be fading but at least we still have the books to read and DVDs to watch, plus the photos on our facebook page.  Please feel free to tag yourself.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Gideon Raff and Jennifer Teege
Emmy-award winning creator/director of Homeland and Prisoners of War, Gideon Raff, was hugely popular in his sold-out session with moderator Michaela Kalowski. Together they delved into the very different reception that prisoners of war receive in both the US and Israel. These differences lie at the core of his decision in differentiating the two series, which are both based on the idea of soldiers returning home after many years in captivity. It was a privilege to hear more about his motivation to make the series and also the Israeli public’s reaction to the Prisoners of War.
Michaela Kalowski in conversation with Gideon Raff

The 'Facing Adversity' session, with authors Martin Chimes and Greg Fisher, moderated by Shirli Kirschner, was also standing room only. Many of Martin’s family and friends made the effort to come hear more about his novel, The Lion’s Den, as well as his struggle with cancer. Kirschner adeptly weaved his struggle with that of Greg Fisher, who overcame drug addiction and eight years in jail to turn his life around. 
Booksigning with Martin Chimes, Greg Fisher and Philip Mendes
Other stand-out sessions included former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer speaking about General John Monash as well as German-Nigerian author Jennifer Teege, who spoke about her incredible journey discovering the gruesome truth about her family in her book, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me.

Tim Fischer
Festival-goers appreciated “the excellent homework done by all the moderators, as well as the generosity and openness of the authors.” Additional evaluation feedback included “Each one was so unique  yet powerful and moving – wonderful human stories. … Thanks for a stimulating and inspirational day! ”

Book sales, courtesy of Lindfield Bookshop, were brisk and patrons appreciated the opportunity to get up close and personal with the authors at the book signings.
Gideon Raff with fans
Everyone enjoyed the Festival's new venue, Waverley Library, which allowed for larger sessions, dining space and easy access.
Parents enjoyed the opportunity for their children to attend the PJ Library/Arty Start workshop where kids aged 6-8 were able to write and illustrate their own story. 
PJ Library art activity
There were also a number of sessions aimed at parents including 'Will the kids be alright?' with parenting experts Joanne Fedler, Dr Arne Rubinstein and teenage depression survivor Adam Schwartz. 
Will the kids be alright panel?
Until 2016...! Let us know if you have any wonderful Jewish authors you would like to see at next year’s festival, and keep in touch with Jewish writing in Sydney and around the world by liking us on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of David Sokol Photography. 

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