Participating Authors 2023
Rebecca Abrams is an award winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent book is Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England
Licoricia of Winchester’s life was filled with dramatic highs and lows, played out against a backdrop of civil war, political turbulence and rising antisemitism in thirteenth century England. Bringing her story to a general audience for the first time, this book is an inspiring chronicle of one woman’s personal courage, resilience and fearless determination to stand up to power.
Twice married, twice widowed and mother of five, Licoricia’s extraordinary life spanned seven decades, two civil wars and the reigns of three kings. She rose from obscurity to become one of the most successful Jewish financiers in early Plantagenet England, providing loans to royalty, bishops and nobility, enjoying a particularly close relationship with Henry III.
But Licoricia also experienced at first hand the rising tide of anti-Jewish legislation, local expulsions and violent attacks. Her first husband was executed on false charges of ritual murder, her sons and grandsons were badly injured during anti-semitic attacks, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and in old age she was murdered in her home along with her Christian maid.
Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England situates Licoricia and her Jewish community in the wider context of the thirteenth century, exposing the historic roots of English antisemitism, which in the course of her lifetime systematically destroyed England’s once-thriving medieval Jewry, and which continues to inform negative anti-Jewish myths and stereotypes still dangerously potent in the world today.
Noga Arikha (V)
As her mother slips into the fog of dementia, a philosopher grapples with the unbreakable links between our bodies and our sense of self.
A diabetic woman awakens from a coma having forgotten the last ten years of her life. A Haitian immigrant has nightmares that begin bleeding into his waking hours. A retired teacher loses the use of her right hand due to pain of no known origin.
Noga Arikha began studying these patients and their confounding symptoms in order to explore how our physical experiences inform our identities. Soon after she initiated her work, the question took on unexpected urgency, as Arikha’s own mother began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Weaving together stories of her subjects’ troubles and her mother’s decline, Arikha searches for some meaning in the science she has set out to study. The result is an unforgettable journey across the ever-shifting boundaries between ourselves and each other.
Noga Arikha is a philosopher and historian of ideas. She works as a science humanist, fostering dialogues between neuroscientists, psychologists, clinicians, social scientists, humanists and artists in order to bring to a general audience accessible accounts that analyse the origins of our deepest concerns about our embodied, feeling and thinking selves. Always concerned with the relation between mind and body, she initially focused on life sciences in early modern Europe, but her interests and writings encompass a broad range of periods, cultures and disciplines.
Her latest book, The Ceiling Outside: The Science and Experience of the Disrupted Mind, is an exploration of brain, self, dementia and medicine based on the stories of neuropsychiatric patients, published by Basic Books (UK and US) in Spring 2022.
Debra Barnes is the author of “The Young Survivors.” Since 2021 she has told audiences at More House, The Urswick School, St Margaret’s Bushey, Yavneh College and Notting Hill Prep School the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. Debra’s grandparents and two of her mother’s siblings, one of them her twin sister, were murdered in Auschwitz. She painted a very vivid and moving picture of how her family resident in Metz at the beginning of the war was torn apart, deepening her audience’s knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust.
Debra runs the My Story project at the Association of Jewish Refugees which produces life story books for Holocaust survivors, their families and friends. She discovered that the only way she could cope with the overwhelming emotions involved in telling her mother’s story was to cast it as a historical novel. “The Young Survivors” has won much praise as a novel.
There are two compelling stories in Debra’s talk, one is that of Georgette and her siblings, the youngsters of the title and the other is of Debra’s experiences as she researched the family’s history and the murderous times in which they lived.
Debra’s presentation is suitable for pupils in the last year of primary school and Years 7 to 13 in secondary school.
David Bolchover’s book, “The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory”, a biography of the football coach Béla Guttmann, was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His first book is the international best-seller “The 90-Minute Manager”, which looks at the lessons that business managers can learn from football managers.
A review of “The Greatest Comeback” in “The Times” sums up the book’s appeal, “Moving, original, full of insight, this is a gripping tale told by a skilled storyteller. “You don’t need to be interested in the Holocaust to find this fascinating account of some great footballing moments absorbing. And you don’t need to be interested in football to want to learn about this tale of survival. But if you are by chance interested in both, you will find this book extraordinary.” David has spoken at our events held at City of London School, David Game College and Yavneh College.
Viviane Bowell’s book, “To Egypt with Love: Memories of a Bygone World” is primarily a legacy to the author’s family. She was born in Egypt and grew up in Cairo in the 1950’s in a secular Jewish community which had its own unique customs and traditions. At its apogee, the community numbered 80,000 people. They all left or were expelled between 1948 and 1967 and there are now only a handful of Jews still living in Egypt.
In the book, she shares memories of her childhood and describes in great detail a way of life which no longer exists. She evokes the scents and smells of the busy Cairo streets and describes the local people she came into contact with every day. Jewish and Muslim festivals, mores, customs and superstitions are recounted anecdotally.
Hugh Brody is an anthropologist and film-maker, renowned for his work with indigenous peoples. In the 1980s he was engaged in a lawsuit brought by the Inuit people of the Arctic against the Canadian government.
Brody lived with the Inuit, learned their language, recorded all their stories, which were then used as evidence in the court case – which the Inuit won.
In his most recent book, “Landscapes of Silence: from Childhood to the Arctic” he describes his childhood. He grew up on the outskirts of Sheffield, and ate roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but was always given to understand that the real, the perfect food came from his mother’s home, Vienna. He attended Hebrew classes three times each week but was sent off to a Church of England boarding school. Conflicted and bewildered, he sought places to which he could escape – but everywhere he discovered deep and troubling silences.
He takes us on his first journeys to the Arctic, a world so far removed from anything he had known as to be a chance to learn, all over again, what it can mean to be alive. As he reveals, the realities of the far north were a joy, but even there he found abuses of the people and the land – and voices that were deeply silenced by the forces of colonialism.
In these landscapes, human well-being appears to be both possible and impossible. Yet in memory, in the land, in the defiance of silence, Hugh Brody sees a profound humanity – as well as hope.
Leslie Cavendish is the author of The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser.
The Beatles hair changed the world. As their increasingly wild, untamed manes grew, to the horror of parents everywhere, they set off a cultural revolution as the most tangible symbol of the Sixties psychedelic dream of peace, love and playful rebellion. In the midst of this epochal change was Leslie Cavendish, hairdresser to the Beatles and some of the greatest stars of the music and entertainment industry. But just how did a fifteen-year-old Jewish school dropout from an undistinguished North London suburb, with no particular artistic talent or showbusiness connections, end up literally at the cutting edge of Sixties fashion in just four years? His story honest, always entertaining and inspiring parallels the meteoric rise of the Beatles themselves and is no less astounding.
Sa’ad Khaldi is a UK educator with an Arab and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. He became the first Palestinian Holocaust Education Fellow studying with the Imperial War Museum and Yad Vashem in Lithuania, Poland and Israel. He is eager to share details of his experiences and of the outcomes of his studies of Holocaust memorialisation. He will also examine the complex consequences of coming from two historically important families, one Arab and the other Jewish.
Neomie Lopian and Derek Neimann
Noemie Lopian, is a GP and the translator of her late father’s book, “The Long Night.” Derek Niemann is the author of “A Nazi in the Family,” an account of his discovery of his grandfather’s role in the SS. The two writers are friends and in JBW Schools Events presentation at The Urswick School and More House they contrasted the experiences and values of Neomie’s father, Dr Ernst Bornstein, with those of Derek’s grandfather, Karl Niemann.
“The Long Night” describes Dr Ernst Bornstein’s wartime incarceration in seven concentration camps from 1939 until 1945 and the forced marches he endured at the end of that time. In “A Nazi in the Family” Derek Niemann explores his grandfather’s descent into darkness and the effect the revelation of his Nazi career has on the author and other members of the Nazi’s family.
Samuel Lebens (V)
What makes a belief or a lifestyle rational? How much evidence do you need before deciding to act on a belief? If your religious beliefs are tightly bound up with your particular experiences and upbringing, doesn’t that undermine their reliability? All these questions, and more, come to the fore in Samuel Lebens’s “A Guide for the Jewish Undecided”. Bringing cutting-edge philosophy, science, and decision theory into conversation with Jewish tradition, this book makes the case that Jews today have cogent reasons to embrace Judaism and its practices. Moreover, this embrace is the most viable way in which they can answer the call to human responsibility.
Sam Lebens is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa.
Linda Kinstler (V)
A few years ago Linda Kinstler discovered that a man fifty years dead – a former Nazi who belonged to the same killing unit as her grandfather – was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Latvia. The proceedings threatened to pardon his crimes. They put on the line hard-won facts about the Holocaust at the precise moment that the last living survivors – the last legal witnesses – were dying.
Across the world, Second World War-era cases are winding their way through the courts. Survivors have been telling their stories for the better part of a century, and still judges ask for proof. Where do these stories end? What responsibilities attend their transmission, so many generations on? How many ghosts need to be put on trial for us to consider the crime scene of history closed?
In this major non-fiction debut, Linda Kinstler investigates both her family story and the archives of ten nations to examine what it takes to prove history in our uncertain century. Probing and profound, Come to this Court and Cry is about the nature of memory and justice when revisionism, ultra-nationalism and denialism make it feel like history is slipping out from under our feet. It asks how the stories we tell about ourselves, our families and our nations are passed down, how we alter them, and what they demand of us.
Jacob Mikanowski (V)
“GOODBYE, EASTERN EUROPE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF A DIVIDED LAND”
In the light of Russia’s aggressive 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a crucial, elucidative read, a sweeping epic chronicling a thousand years of strife, war, and bloodshed, from pre-Christianity to the fall of Communism—illuminating the remarkable cultural significance and richness of a place perpetually lost to the margins of history.
Eastern Europe, the moniker, has gone out of fashion since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ask someone now, and they might tell you that Estonia is in the Baltics, or Scandinavia, that Slovakia is in Central Europe and Croatia is in the Eastern Adriatic or the Balkans. In fact, Eastern Europe is a place that barely exists at all, except in cultural memory. Yet it remains a powerful marker of identity for many, with a fragmented and wide history, defined by texts, myths, and memories of centuries of hardship and suffering.
Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a masterful narrative about a place that has survived the brink of being forgotten. Beginning with long-lost accounts of early pagan life, Mikanowski offers a kaleidoscopic tour recounting the rise and fall of the great empires—Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Russian—the dawn of the modern era, the ravages of Fascism and Communism, as well as Capitalism, the birth of the modern nation-state, and more. A student of literature, history, and the ghosts of his own family’s past, Mikanowski paints a magisterial portrait of a place united by diversity, and eclecticism, and a people with the shared story of being the dominated rather than the dominating.
The result is a loving and ebullient celebration of the distinctive and vibrant cultures that stubbornly persisted at the margins of Western Europe, and a powerful corrective that re-centers our understanding of how the modern Western world took shape.
Monica Porter was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her family escaped the country in the wake of the failed 1956 Revolution, and she grew up in New York before moving to London after finishing high school. She began her career in journalism aged 22 on the weekly Local Government Chronicle. Over the decades she has written articles for most Fleet Street newspapers and numerous magazines, as well as six non-fiction books. Her most recent book, a middle-grade children’s novel, was published in spring 2022.
Three of Monica’s books deal with the themes of the Second World War, the Holocaust and anti-Nazi resistance.
Deadly Carousel tells the wartime story of Monica’s mother, celebrated singer Vali Racz, who rescued a group of Jewish friends in Nazi-occupied Budapest in 1944, by secretly harbouring them in her home for eight months. Inadvertently betrayed to the Gestapo, she was imprisoned and interrogated, but gave nothing away. All of her hidden fugitives evaded capture and survived the war. In 1991 Vali Racz was honoured in Israel, named a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Children Against Hitler brings together a dozen stories of children from around occupied Europe who took part in bold and resourceful acts of resistance. They were couriers, produced underground newspapers, escorted downed Allied airmen to safety, sabotaged Nazi trains and military installations, forged identity documents for Jews and others needing false identities, and even assassinated Nazi officials and traitors. Their youth and air of guilelessness meant they could slip more easily than adults under the secret police’s radar.
These brave youngsters came from all backgrounds – they were high school drop-outs and social misfits from blue collar families, as well as bookish, privately-educated children of the elites. What united them was determination to strike back at an enemy that had deprived them of their freedom, their dignity, and their childhood.
Benny and Bobby Versus Adolf is a quirky novel for children, set in wartime Berlin, in which two laboratory mice given to a young Jewish boy as pets turn into unexpected heroes. When the boy and his family must assume new identities and flee Berlin to escape deportation, the mice, left behind in their apartment, wreak havoc on the Gestapo family that moves in. Their devastating invasions – in league with their new allies, the building’s house mice – end up saving the lives of the Jewish family and the resistance members who helped them. To discover how, read to the end of the story…
Dr Rich’s new book is called “Everyday Hate: How antisemitism is built into our world – and how you can change it.”
The publisher’s description of the book follows:
Antisemitism is supposed to have disappeared long ago, but despite our abhorrence of racism and oppression in all its forms, this ancient prejudice continues to thrive. Anti-Jewish hate crime is rising, Jewish blood is spilt in Europe once more and arguments over antisemitism, whether in politics or music, theatre or sport, are increasingly hard to avoid. At a time of economic, political and social turmoil, fuelled by conspiracy theories on your smartphone or conflict in the Middle East, antisemitism is back, and we need to know why.
It would be tempting to put this down to a handful of extremists, but antisemitism endures at an everyday level in the stereotypes and assumptions about Jews that are woven into the fabric of our world. It is these almost-unnoticed prejudices that perpetuate violent hatred, and until we all understand where they came from, how they are sustained and how they can be challenged, they will continue to do so.
Blending personal anecdotes, contemporary examples and historical insights, Everyday Hate takes you on a journey through this contentious and often confusing subject. Spanning Shakespeare to South Park, Israel to Covid-19 and ancient stereotypes to internet memes, it reveals surprising truths about how antisemitism continues to thrive in the interactions, assumptions and views of decent people around the world – and how we can change this for the better.
Dr Rich is the Director of the Community Security Trust, a British charity whose purpose is to provide safety, security, and advice to the Jewish community in the UK.
Dan Saladino is a journalist and broadcaster. He makes programmes about food for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service and his book “Eating to Extinction: the World’s Foods and Why We need to Save Them” won the Wainwright Prize in 2022 for UK nature and conservation writing.
From a tiny crimson pear in the west of England to an exploding corn in Mexico, there are thousands of foods that are at risk of being lost for ever. Dan Saladino spans the globe to uncover their stories, meeting the pioneering farmers, scientists, cooks, food producers and indigenous communities who are defending food traditions and fighting for change.
Eating to Extinction is about so much more than preserving the past. It is about the crisis facing our planet today, and why reclaiming a diverse food culture is vital for our future.
Colin Shindler’s new book, Israel: A History in 100 Cartoons will be published 75 years after the establishment of the state of Israel.
For each year, there are four pages: a cartoon by an iconic Israeli cartoonist of the time, a timeline for the year and two pages of narrative about what happened during that year. There are also sections on Zionism, the Road to 1948 and a long introduction about the role of Jews in satire, caricatures and cartoons internationally.
Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor of Israel Studies at SOAS, is a leading historian of and commentator on Israel.
A sixth form audience will learn a great deal from Colin Shindler’s exploration of the events, issues and perceptions which have shaped Israel’s present social and political preoccupations, as well as the art and power of cartoons.
In 1946 many Jewish soldiers returned to their homes in England imagining that they had fought and defeated the forces of fascism in Europe. Yet in London they found a revived fascist movement inspired by Sir Oswald Mosley and stirring up agitation against Jews and communists. Many felt that the government, the police and even the Jewish Board of Deputies were ignoring the threat; so they had to take matters into their own hands, by any means necessary. In his book “We fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-war Britain Daniel Sonabend tells how Forty-three Jewish servicemen met together and set up a group that tirelessly infiltrated meetings, and broke up street demonstrations to stop the rebirth of the far right. The group included returned war heroes; women who went undercover; and young Jews, such as hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, seeking adventure. From 1947, the 43 Group grew into a powerful troop that could muster hundreds of fighters turning meetings into mass street brawls at short notice. The history of the 43 Group is not just a gripping story of a forgotten moment in Britain’s post war history; it is also a timely lesson in how to confront fascism, and how to win.
In 2020 Daniel spoke at JBW School Events at City of London School to the Sixth Form students at St James Boys’ and Girls’ Schools, and in 2022 to Sixth form students at Immanuel College.
Adam Taub graduated in natural sciences at Cambridge and then qualified as a lawyer. For the past ten years he has headed the Institute of Directors’ programme for training leaders in presentational skills. He is the co-founder of Etgar, a very successful inter school quiz competition for ten-year-olds; he developed, with Rabbi Dr Rafi Zarum, a course for the study of the Bible in 25 sessions at the London School of Jewish studies and a year-long course, The Sages of the Mishnah, which explores the upheaval that followed the destruction of the Second Temple.
Among the titles he has suggested for his talks are
(i) “The case for the Old Testament – why it is worth knowing the Bible and what makes it still relevant.”
(ii) 4 Loveable Biblical Villains
(iii) The History of the State of Israel (on one leg)
(iv)What the best Israeli Songs say about Israel
(v) You Be the Judge – you get to decide the outcome of cases and then learn how Jewish law would address the issue
Dr Frank Tallis is an author and clinical psychologist, whose area of expertise is obsessive clinical disorder, (OCD). He has held lecturing posts in clinical psychology and neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry and King’s College, London. He has written crime novels, including the collection of novels known as “The Liebermann Papers” and “Vienna Blood” for which he has received several awards.
Bernard Wasserstein (V)
Bernard Wasserstein, an immensely distinguished historian, is the author of Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945 (London: Hamish Hamilton, and Harvard UP, 1996), which has been translated into Dutch, German, French, and Romanian; and Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time (Oxford UP, 2007).
His latest book is “A small town in Ukraine: the place we came from and went back to.”
The following paragraphs are extracts from his publisher’s description of the book.
“Decades ago, Bernard Wasserstein set out to uncover the hidden past of the town forty miles west of Lviv where his family originated: Krakowiec (Krah-KOV-yets). In this book he recounts its dramatic and traumatic history. In particular he wanted to observe and understand how some of the great forces that determined the shape of our times affected ordinary people.’
Wasserstein traces the arc of history across centuries of religious and political conflict, as armies of Cossacks, Turks, Swedes and Muscovites rampaged through the region. In the Age of Enlightenment, the Polish magnate Ignacy Cetner built his palace at Krakowiec and, with his vivacious daughter, Princess Anna, created an arcadia of refinement and serenity. Under the Habsburg emperors after 1772, Krakowiec developed into a typical shtetl, with a jostling population of Poles, Ukrainians and Jews.
In 1914, disaster struck. ‘Seven years of terror and carnage’ left a legacy of ferocious national antagonisms. During the Second World War the Jews were murdered in circumstances harrowingly described by Wasserstein. After the war the Poles were expelled and the town dwindled into a border outpost. Today, the storm of history once again rains down on Krakowiec as hordes of refugees flee for their lives from Ukraine to Poland.
Adam is a leading authority on the law relating to COVID-19. From 2020-2021 he was Specialist Advisor to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic and assisted in the writing of five reports.
0n 26 March 2020, a new law appeared. In eleven pages it locked down tens of millions of people, confined us to our homes, banned socialising, closed shops, gyms, pubs, places of worship. It restricted our freedoms more than any other law in history, justified by the rapid spread of a deadly new virus.
You may have expected such a law to be fiercely debated in Parliament. But it wasn’t debated at all. A state of emergency was declared, meaning the law came into force the moment it was signed. The emergency was supposed to be short but lasted for 763 days, allowing ministers to bring in, by decree over 100 new laws restricting freedoms more than any in history – laws that were almost never debated, changed at a whim and increasingly confused the public. Meanwhile, behind the doors of Downing Street, officials and even the Prime Minister broke the very laws they had created.
This book tells the startling story of the state of emergency that brought about an Emergency State. A wake-up call from one of the UK’s leading human rights barristers, Emergency State shows us why we must never take our rights for granted.