5777 / 2016-17 Programme

Below, we give a preview of the upcoming Lit season. We are planning ten meetings, one of them with two talks.  To join the Lit early and avoid queuing at the first meeting, please send your membership form and cheque to the Treasurer.

Unless stated otherwise, all meetings start at 8.00pm with tea served at the end of the meeting. The venue is the Marian Oppenheim Hall, Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, 4 Salisbury Road.


Opening of the Season 30 October: Jeremy Beecham, ‘Life in the Lords’

Lord Jeremy Beecham will talk about how the House of Lords works, its role and composition, and his own experience as a member.

Lord Jeremy Beecham was a councillor in Newcastle for 49 years, 17 of them as Leader. He has chaired the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Local Government Association of England and Wales, and the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee. His current responsibilities are as an Opposition spokesman on Justice and Local Government.


13 November 6pm: Daniel Lines, ‘“German” versus “Jewish” Mathematics in Nazi Germany’

This talk describes how a perfectly justified philosophical debate about the discoveries of Georg Cantor (1845-1918) concerning the infinite was perverted by the Nazis in order to fulfil their ideological goals and purge German universities of Jewish mathematicians and others who they deemed ‘contaminated’ by Jewish thought, sometimes with fatal consequences. No specialised knowledge of mathematics or science is required to follow this talk.

Dr Daniel Lines was born in Geneva in 1952. He was educated in Geneva, obtaining a PhD in mathematics in 1981. Following an academic career he retired early in 2004 and came to live with his partner in Glasgow.


27 November Double Bill, including a buffet dinner:

3pm: Michael Harris, ‘The Role of Women in Judaism: A Modern Orthodox Perspective’

Rabbi Dr Michael Harris was born in London in 1964. He holds rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and other prominent Israeli rabbis, and a PhD from SOAS. He has been Rabbi of the Hampstead Synagogue since 1995, and is currently a Research Fellow at The London School of Jewish Studies and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.

Buffet dinner (£6 non-members, free for members – donations very welcome)

6pm: Ellen Galford, ‘Yiddish lost and found: eavesdropping on the ancestors’

Ellen will explore the fragmentary but tenacious Yiddish that survived three generations of one family’s journey from the Russian Pale to the fleshpots of the Bronx and the wilds of New Jersey. Yiddish Lost and Found: Eavesdropping on the Ancestors by Ellen Galford can be bought on amazon.co.uk and in the I-tunes store.

Ellen Galford is the author of four novels, and a number of short stories and essays published in several British and American anthologies. She was born in New Jersey but emigrated to Scotland in 1971.


11 December: Philip Spencer, ‘Antisemitism and the left today: the return of the “Jewish Question”’

In this talk, Philip Spencer will explore how and why the ‘Jewish Question’ has returned and the role it plays in the politics of antisemitism today.

Philip Spencer is Emeritus Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Kingston University. He is currently a Visiting Professor in Politics at Birkbeck College, London University, and an Associate of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism.



22 January: Patrick Elliott, ‘Jankel Adler 1895-1949: A Polish artist in Glasgow and London’

Patrick Elliott is senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Over a period of more than twenty years he has been responsible for exhibitions including Picasso, Dali, Giacometti, Magritte, Tracey Emin, MC Escher, and Colquhoun & MacBryde. This talk is based on unpublished material from the Jankel Adler archive, recently given to the Gallery by Adler’s estate.


5 February: Hannah Holtschneider and Mia Spiro, ‘Jews in the archive: haunting memories in the aftermath of the Holocaust’ Postponed until 26th March


26 February: Yahya Barry, ‘Reflections on Jewish-Muslim Relations’

Yahya Barry began to be interested in religious studies during the final year of college in London. After taking a year out to do voluntary work in Gambia, he completed a number of degrees in Islamic Theology and Religious Studies at universities in Madinah, Mecca, Copenhagen and Uppsala. Currently, he is completing a PhD in Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and serves as an Imam at the Central Mosque.


5 March: Owen Dudley Edwards, ‘Ireland and the Jews’

The talk will discuss Ireland and the Jews in history and literature with emphases on such key figures as James Joyce and Dublin Lord Mayor, Robert Briscoe, as well as investigation of Roman Catholic anti-Jewish attitudes in past and present.

Owen Dudley Edwards, FRSE, FRHistS, FSA (Scot) grew up in Ireland, and studied and worked in the USA and Scotland. From 1968 he taught at Edinburgh University (Department of History).


26th March: Hannah Holtschneider and Mia Spiro, ‘Jews in the archive: haunting memories in the aftermath of the Holocaust’

The talk will introduce discoveries in the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. Focusing on the Jewish Arts Festival and the performance of ‘The Dybbuk’, Mia will discuss the popularity of the dybbuk’s haunting figure in Jewish theatre in post-war Scotland. Hannah will explore the archive of Dorrith Sim, a refugee from Nazi Germany, and the contribution to knowledge that research on a specific family may make, as well as the ethical questions arising from researching such a deeply personal archive.Dr Mia Spiro (Jewish Studies, University of Glasgow) has published widely on literary and visual images of Jews in the early twentieth century. Dr Hannah Holtschneider (Jewish Studies, University of Edinburgh) mainly works on twentieth century Jewish cultural history, often in relation to Holocaust memory and representation in a variety of media. Together Hannah and Mia work on the ‘Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces’ research project: http://jewishmigrationtoscotland.is.ed.ac.uk/

26 March: Judit Szekacs-Weisz, ‘Ferenczi and his circle’

Ferenczi is a legendary – and for decades spectacularly forgotten —central figure of the international psychoanalytical movement and the Budapest School. His theories and ideas became an essential part of our understanding of the human mind in its environment. This talk aims to conjure up not only the person, but also the cultural atmosphere of his world.

Judit Szekacs-Weisz is a bilingual psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. She is a member of the British and the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society. Born and educated (mostly) in Budapest, she has absorbed the ideas and way of thinking of Ferenczi and his circle as integral parts of a ‘professional mother tongue’.

7 May: Rebecca Abrams, ‘The Elephant in the Museum’

Rebecca Abrams is an award-winning author and journalist, and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.  Her most recent novel, Touching Distance (Picador), was shortlisted for the McKittrick Prize for Literature. Rebecca will be talking about her forthcoming book The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 Objects.













Further information: https://ejls.org/

Contact: ejlsoc@gmail.com