5783 / 2022-23 PROGRAMME

Below, we give a preview of the first half of the upcoming Lit. season.

Meetings start at 8:00pm, unless otherwise indicated. All meetings until the end of 2022 will be by ZOOM. We hope to have some face-to-face meetings in 2023. Joining details for ZOOM meetings will be sent shortly before each meeting via the Lit.’s email list.

To be added to the mailing list, please email: ejlsoc@gmail.com

Support the Lit.

As the meetings are a mixture of online and in-person this season, we are not charging our usual membership fees. We are asking for a contribution of £10 for a single membership this season, and £2 if a single meeting is attended without purchasing full membership. Either fee can be paid directly to our bank account (details below) or via PayPal using the button below. If, in addition to the £10 membership fee or £2 fee per meeting, you would like to make a donation to support the work of the Lit. in this and future seasons, please use the same payment methods as for the fees.

Bank account:

The Edinburgh Jewish Literary Society
Bank of Scotland
Account number 00301419
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Opening of the season: Sunday 23 October 2022: Anshel Pfeffer, A Postcard from Wartime Ukraine (ZOOM)

We are delighted to welcome Anshel Pfeffer, senior correspondent and columnist for Ha’aretz and Israel correspondent for The Economist, to open our year by giving us thoughts from his many and most recent visits to Ukraine. Born in Manchester and immigrating with his family to Israel at the age of nine, Anshel’s British passport has allowed Ha’aretz to send him to cover stories, such as the 2011 Egyptian revolution, in countries that are reluctant to permit entry to Israelis. Over the past 25 years, he has covered education, politics, security and foreign affairs, and received the B’nai Brith award for ‘Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage’ for his column ‘Jerusalem and Babylon’, a series of articles which covered issues relating to Israel and Jewish identity. His latest book, Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu (2018: Hurst Books) won plaudits from The Times (“a sober and erudite profile”), The Literary Review (“truly fascinating”), and Jonathan Freedland in The New York Review of Books (“a detailed, revealing and shrewd biography”).

Anshel observes that “after two reporting trips to Ukraine during the current war and numerous previous visits over the past 15 years, it is clear that the war has also awakened new feelings of Ukrainian patriotism among the country’s large Jewish community”- a community which historically has suffered greatly from Ukrainian nationalists. In his talk, Anshel will address this apparent paradox.

The electronic English edition of Ha’aretz, Israel’s foremost Hebrew language newspaper, may arrive daily in your electronic post by ordering it from www.haaretz.com. For the first year, subscriptions are at half price ($65).


6 November: Maria Chamberlain: ‘Never Tell Anyone You’re Jewish’ (ZOOM)

Maria Chamberlain’s book Never Tell Anyone You’re Jewish (published by Vallentine Mitchell, May 2022) is based on her parents’ and grandparents’ experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland and her family’s post-war life in Stalinist Poland and later in the UK. The book, which is part testimony, part tribute to her Holocaust survivor parents, celebrates their courage and resilience, and brings to life on the page several family members who perished. Much of this history is harrowing and tragic, but it presents touching and tender portraits of her family members in extraordinary times. Maria ponders on how it was possible for so many seemingly ordinary people (German, Polish and Ukrainian) to participate in this unspeakable evil. She talks about the after-effects of the Holocaust on her survivor parents, and how this legacy has shaped her own identity.

Maria who was born soon after the war in Kraków, Poland, emigrated with her parents to the UK in 1958 and settled in Edinburgh, where she still lives. She has led an academic career as a plant scientist and lecturer of Biology at Edinburgh University.

20 November David Horovitz: Whither Israel? Analysing the Elections of 1 November 2022 (ZOOM)

On 1 November, Israel is heading back to the polls for the fifth time since 2019. By the time of this scheduled talk, clear results may not be available if Israel is to enter a protracted period of coalition formation, as has been in the past. We are fortunate indeed to welcome to the Lit. the founding editor of The Times of Israel, David Horovitz, to make sense and unpack for us the results of the 1 November elections and to analyse their implications for the future.

David immigrated to Israel from London in 1983, was editor and publisher of the award-winning magazine The Jerusalem Report, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post and launched The Times of Israel as an English paper in 2012. It now publishes in French, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew (Z’man Yisrael) and has an average of 40 million monthly readers. He lectures widely in Israel, the USA and Europe on Israeli current affairs and has conducted landmark interviews with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr  Zelensky and, much to delight of his children, Paul McCartney. He has published several books on Israel, including The Jerusalem Report’s 1996 biography of Yitzchak Rabin – Shalom, Friend- which he edited and co-wrote, and which won the US National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction.

The daily and weekend edition of The Times of Israel, as well as The Jewish Times, may be dropped into your electronic post by ordering it from www.timesofisrael.com. You can enjoy an ad-free experience by taking out a modest monthly or annual subscription, which is greatly encouraged.

11 December Rabbi Jonathan Romain (ZOOM)

Jews worry. That is part of our DNA. Sometimes, it is needless and we indulge in ‘oy gevults’. But at other times there are good reasons to worry. Jonathan Romain has been at the forefront of some controversial campaigns within the Jewish community (such as pioneering a more welcoming approach to mixed-faith couples, trying to make faith schools more inclusive, arguing for assisted dying to be legalised, and intervening in the 2020 General Election) and, in his talk, he will explore the seven major challenges faced by British Jewry. Come and find out what they are…and decide whether we need to worry or not.

Jonathan Romain is a rabbi, writer and broadcaster, He is Minister of Maidenhead Reform Synagogue, writes for The Times and The Jewish Chronicle, and is often heard or seen on the BBC. He is Chaplain to the Jewish Police Association, President of the Accord Coalition (campaigning for inclusive education), and Vice-Chair of Dignity in Dying. His latest book, The Naked Rabbi, John Hunt Publishing (£10.99) came out in May 2022.


8 January Kerstin Stutterheim: The Goldberg Condition, or how a famous person was forgotten and rediscovered (in person)

Emanuel Goldberg was an influential scientist, manager and visionary whose name was almost erased from history by the Nazis. Born in Moscow, he studied in Berlin and London. He was appointed as the first ever professor of photographic and reproduction techniques in his late twenties. A few years later, he headed the research department of one of the most important camera factories in Dresden, of which he became the manager until he was kidnapped by the SA in 1933. After a diversion via Paris, he migrated to Israel, where his laboratory became the incubation cell of Israel’s optical industry. One can say that there would be no drones made in Israel today without Goldberg’s revenge on Hitler. But he was not only a researcher who scaled down everything that seemed too big to him, he also wrote wonderful love letters.In a network of diverse research scientists, we have reconstructed his biography as best we could, made his estate accessible and secure, and interviewed his daughter and the rest of his family. One of the results was a documentary film made by Niels Bolbrinker and myself, from which I will show and discuss some excerpts.

Kerstin Stutterheim is professor in creative practice and head of research at the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University. Her recent positions have included Rector of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, and Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Bournemouth University. Her most recent monograph is Modern Film Dramaturgy – An Introduction, Peter Lang Publishing 2019. A new work, Dramaturgie im Dokumentarfilm, is in preparation for 2023. As documentary filmmaker she wrote and directed several internationally awarded films, including Myth, Might and Murderer (1999, 89 min) about the idea of being the chosen within the Nazi ideology; Bauhaus—Model and Myth (2009 – 103 min) about the history and the aftermath of the Bauhaus academy, and Flies & Angels about two Ukrainian Jewish artists, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, and their art of the ‘total installation’ (D 2009. 90 min). Her filmography is at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0836488/.

13 March 2023, Chitra Ramaswamy in conversation about Homelands: The History of a Friendship

5:45pm, Elizabeth Templeton Lecture Theatre, New College, Mound Place, EH1 2LX

This event is co-sponsored by Edinburgh Jewish Studies Network and the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature.

We are delighted to welcome Chitra Ramaswamy to talk about her latest book: a hybrid biography/memoir exploring her friendship with a 98-year-old German Jewish refugee called Henry Wuga. The two of them might seem unlikely friends: one born in 1970s Britain to Indian immigrant parents, the other fleeing Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport in 1939. And yet, Homelands is a book about common ground; a story of migration, antisemitism, racism, family, belonging, grief and resilience. It won the Saltire Society Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2022 and is available in all good bookshops. Signed copies can be purchased at Toppings.

Chitra Ramaswamy is a journalist and author from London. Her latest book, Homelands: The History of a Friendship, published by Canongate in April 2022, is a work of creative non-fiction exploring her friendship with a 98-year-old German Jewish refugee called Henry Wuga. It won the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year and was included in The Guardian’s top memoirs and biographies of 2022. Her first book, Expecting: The Inner Life of Pregnancy, published by Saraband in April 2016, won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize. She has contributed essays to Antlers of Water, Nasty Women, The Freedom Papers, The Bi:ble, and Message From The Skies and is currently working on a commission from the Alasdair Gray Archive. She writes for The Guardian, is the restaurant critic for The Times Scotland, and broadcasts for BBC radio. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner, two children and rescue dog.