Dear Fellow Book Lovers,
March 2021 is a very special time for the MJBW community. We can be together once again with family and friends in celebration of our traditions and the freedoms which we are privileged to enjoy today, invariably involving food and books. Michael Twitty, who featured in our recent online event, aptly says in his award-winning book Kosher Soul and the Cooking Gene that 'Jewish food is a matter of text expressed on the table’. For those of you who missed this fabulous event with Michael Twitty and Elissa Goldstein, we invite you to visit our website to watch the event.

We have some more exciting news from the team at The Jewish Quarterly. MJBW is delighted to share a special offer to participate in the Foundation Subscription, which includes 12-months of digital access via their website, as well as the print issues.

We also invite you to peruse the following list of new books suggested for your reading pleasure during the cooler months and further recommendations of events to take you to another place and time. MJBW would like to wish everyone and their families our very best wishes for the forthcoming holiday break. Chag Pesach Sameach — may you all wholeheartedly experience the Festival of Freedom, and Happy Easter.

Warm regards

Esther Kister
Chair, MJBW 

Nicolas Brasch

Festival Director, MJBW


The Jewish Quarterly is pleased to offer Melbourne Jewish Book Week members access to a Foundation Subscription, available for a limited time only. For only $69.99 AUD, Foundation Subscribers will receive 4 print issues and 12-months of digital access via our website – a saving of more than 23% off the cover price. Simply enter the promo code JQMJBW21 when buying a Print & Digital subscription online
Print issues will commence with Issue 244, delivered to your door in May this year. Titled 'The Return of History: New Populism, old hatreds', it is indeed, a historic issue. 

Issue 244 looks at rising global populism, with essays by Simon Schama, Deborah Lipstadt, Holly Case and Mikołaj Grynberg, and pieces by Benjamin Balint and Hadley Freeman. There are also new sections exploring little known aspects of Jewish history and community by Elliot Perlman and others. The issue also includes the exclusive first publication of recently discovered letters about Israel from Isaiah Berlin to Robert Silvers at the New York Review of Books.  


Recommended by Morry Frenkel

A Letter to Layla

by Ramona Koval

In this ‘letter’ to her grand-daughter, Ramona Koval explores the nature of what it is to be human through meetings and interviews with scientists from a broad range of disciplines. The reader is taken on a fascinating journey that spans two million years, from the earliest human ancestors to the concepts of ‘transhumance’ and a ‘human brain/cloud interface’. A very readable and at times humorous account of our past and some disturbing visions of the future. 

Book Chats Season Three will be released via the MJBW enews on April 6, in which Ramona Koval is a guest participant.

Recommended by Tali Lavi

The Believer:
Encounters with love, death and faith

by Sarah Krasnostein

This is a book that seeks to do the impossible. In this work of great beauty that soars and dives and lets the light in, all the while never obscuring the fragility of the cracks, award-winning writer Sarah Krasnostein carves out a space for listening. A space that encompasses much: things we lack answers for, the uncomfortable, human fallibility and foibles but also the power of a singular narrative. And for all its ideas and stories, the experience of reading The Believer might be likened to one of listening to a rich choral work - which it mimics in structure - or viewing a masterwork of painting, it is equally exhilarating and restorative.

Shortlisted for the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize

House of Glass

by Hadley Freeman

Hadley Freeman is a regular staff writer at The Guardian UK and is a contributor to the new issue of The Jewish Quarterly in May.
A moving memoir of discovering the intergenerational connections between grandparents and adult grandchildren, Hadley’s search takes her from Picasso’s archives in Paris, to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne, to Long Island and to Auschwitz.  She explores assimilation, anti-Semitism, identity and home, issues still relevant today.

Osnat and Her Dove

by Sigal Samuel

Journalist and novelist Sigal Samuel recently discovered that the woman widely considered to be the first female rabbi in history was from the Middle East born five hundred years ago. Sigal honours her Iraqi Jewish heritage with a picture book about Osnat Barazani. The striking illustrations are by Vali Mintz which along with the story invites younger readers (age 5-9 years) and interested adults into Osnat’s world. Highly recommended as a feature of Women’s History Month.


Homo Irrealis

by André Aciman

One of the great prose stylists of his generation, André Aciman returns to the essay form in Homo Irrealis to explore what time means to artists who cannot grasp life in the present. From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, C. P. Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, Homo Irrealis is a deep reflection on the imagination’s power to forge a zone outside of time’s intractable hold.

The Just

by Jan Brokken

The remarkable story of how a consul and his allies helped save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust in one of the greatest rescue operations of the twentieth century. 

"The Just is a riveting epic, a masterful interweaving of many threads and many journeys, written with consummate skill, clarity, and acute insight into human nature. Brokken restores to history, and to memory, acts of profound goodness and courage performed by individuals who responded to the frantic knock on the door by displaced people whose lives were in great peril. It will inspire you." 
—Arnold Zable



From our friends at FOJAM


Uprising: Songs of Resistance

Uprising: Songs of Resistance starts at the close of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust remembrance and Heroism Day) on Thursday 8 April at Memo Music Hall, celebrating the power of resistance. Featuring an incredible line-up, Uprising invites people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds to celebrate resistance to racism, fascism, and antisemitism through song and story. Artists and audiences gather to remember the Holocaust and celebrate ongoing survival and activism. Don't miss the live broadcast of Uprising, produced by Renegade Productions, the team behind Rockwiz — this is the first live broadcast with a six-camera shoot.

Tickets to the the live broadcast are on sale now at

FOJAM are giving two MJBW subscribers the chance to win tickets to the live stream. To enter the competition, email with 'UPRISING GIVEAWAY - MJBW' in the subject line by Friday 19 March, 5pm. Only winners will be notified.  

From our friends at the Jewish Museum of Australia


Yiddish Women Writers in Translation

Deepen your knowledge of Yiddish literature in a nine-week Zoom course with Hinde Ena Burstin, beginning April 26 (on Mondays or Thursdays). 

The course introduces the translated work of classical, recently recovered and contemporary Yiddish women writers, explores the changing status and roles of women in Jewish life and literature, and brings to light the perspectives and experiences of women who stepped outside the norms.

Find our more and book your place in the course.



Please support MJBW as we continue to bring the literary world to you. MJBW remains committed to presenting a curated program of online events. We are proud to offer these events for free but we rely on your generosity and ask you to support us by making a donation.
Donate to MJBW
Melbourne Jewish Book Week is a not-for-profit organisation with registered charitable and Deductible Gift Recipient status. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. We gratefully acknowledge your continued support of MJBW and welcome any contributions.
Melbourne Jewish Book Week would like to express its gratitude to the continued support of the following sponsors:

Stay safe, stay well and keep reading everyone

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Melbourne Jewish Book Week takes place on the land of the Kulin nation. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and future.
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