RBG is a remarkable documentary of the career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which spans several decades, and how she developed a legal legacy while becoming a pop culture icon.  In the 1970s Ginsburg played a leading role as a legal warrior for women’s rights.  “I ask for no favour for my sex,” she said, quoting the abolitionist Sarah Grimké from 1837. “All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” An astonishing woman who at 85, having already survived bouts of cancer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the proverbial survivor.


US 2018, 97 mins, English

Directed by Betsy West starring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jane Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem


Finding Relly

Rosemary grew up as the daughter of a Czech immigrant in post-war UK and Canada. She was unaware of her father’s Jewish identity and of what really happened to his absent relatives. After her father’s death, she felt compelled to discover the truth about his family. Tracing her aunt Relly, who had emigrated to Australia after surviving Auschwitz, was a significant turning point in her life and her new book Finding Relly is about her journey, both personal and logistical.Rosemary will also talk about using her book to educate schoolchildren about the Holocaust.


Rosemary Schonfeld toured the world throughout the 1980s with her band Ova.  She is a professional musician and composer based in Devon. She has recorded and produced/co-produced six albums, co-run a recording studio, devised a teaching package for percussionists, and is currently working on a rock opera. She has published an illustrated book of Nonsense Poetry, Standing on Your Head, and short stories.


The arrival of two orthodox Jews upsets the wedding day of a rural town clerk’s son in Hungary in 1945. This drama filmed in elegant black and white is from Hungarian director Ferenc Török. It captures the collective guilt of the community who have moved into the homes and taken possession of the property of their former Jewish neighbours forcing them to face culpability and dishonour when challenged by the two men of faith.


Hungary 2017, 91 mins, Hungarian with sub-titles (Black and White)

Director Ferenc Török with Péter Rudolf and Tamás Szabó Kimme


The Bagel: past, present and future


If smoked salmon and cream cheese bring but one thing to mind, then you are part of a long and fascinating edible history that has brought the roll with a hole from 17th century Poland to the freezers of the modern Anglo-American home. The talk will give a cultural but light-hearted overview of this modest ring-shaped bread that has gained a place in history.

Clarissa Hyman is an award-winning freelance writer, specialising in all aspects of food and travel taking in producers, ingredients, restaurants, recipes, food policy and consumer trends, and she uses food as a means to explore a wider world of culture and history, art and agriculture.  She contributes to a wide range of newspapers, magazines and guides, and is the author of Cucina Siciliana (Conran Octopus 2001), The Jewish Kitchen (2003), and The Spanish Kitchen (2005).  She has been shortlisted for all of the major cookery writing awards, and twice has won the Glenfiddich Food Writer of the Year Award.  She contributed the Fruit section of Dorling Kindersley’s Ingredients (2010).  In 2013 Reaktion published her Oranges: A Global History and her next book for Reaktion “Tomatoes: A Global History” will be published in 2019.

A bag of marbles (un sac de billes)

Canadian director Christian Duguay explores the horrors of World War Two from the perspective of two young Jewish boys living in Nazi-occupied France in Un Sac De Billes (A Bag of Marbles). Based on the acclaimed memoirs of the same name by Joseph Joffo, A Bag of Marbles is a lavishly shot production that is brilliantly acted and is a gut-wrenching reminder of one of history’s darkest chapters. Following the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany during World War II, brothers Maurice (Batyste Fleurial) and Joseph (Dorian Le Clech) are forced to leave their close-knit Jewish family behind for the free-zone along the French Riviera.

 Despite the grim war scenes and the dark subject matter, Duguay has created a lavishly shot film that boasts stunning cinematography, lush locations and beautiful period costumes. The film beautifully balances the high stake tension with some sweet and endearing moments between the two brothers and celebrates their innocence. While the film is a dark reminder of a horrible page in our history, its heart-warming story reminds us that there are still good people in our darkest moments (modified from Daniele Foti-Cuzzola)

France 2017, 113 mins, French, German, Russian, Yiddish; Director Christian Duguay featuring Batyste Fleurial, Dorian Le Clech



Belonging and belongings: Jewish poetry in the UK today

What does it mean to be a Jewish poet?  Can a non-Jew, like Micheal O’Siadhail, write about the Holocaust? (See The Gossamer Wall, Bloodaxe 2002).  Maybe the Irish and the Jews have enough in common to be able to immerse themselves in each other’s histories.  Does  a writer and in particular a poet have to belong somewhere before they can write?  Who do their poems belong to?  What part do journals like Jewish Renaissance and the Jewish Quarterly play in keeping alive the identity of Jewish poets and poetry. How important are Jewish poets like Aviva Dautch, Poet in Residence at the Jewish Museum in London, who also works with refugees getting them to write poetry?

Liz Cashdan is a poet and teaches Creative Writing for the Open College of the Arts. She is former Chair of the National Association of Writers in Education. She also teaches Creative Writing for the Folk House in Bristol and in schools.  She is Poetry Editor of Jewish Renaissance and in 1996 won the Jewish Quarterly poetry prize with her historical sequence, The Tyre-Cairo Letters based on a fragment from the Cairo Geneza   She has an MA in History from Oxford and a PhD in Literature from Sheffield Hallam University.  Her latest collection is Things of Substance: New and Selected Poems (Five Leaves Publications 2013).


“Set within the New York Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Menashe follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to maintain custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. Since they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother present in every home, Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle, but Menashe’s Rabbi decides to grant him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial. Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding as well as offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent.

Shot in secret entirely within the Hasidic community depicted in the film, and one of the only movies to be performed in Yiddish in nearly 70 years, Menashe is a warm, life-affirming look at the universal bonds between father and son that also sheds unusual light on a notoriously private community. Based largely on the real life of its Hasidic star Menashe Lustig, the film is a strikingly authentic and deeply moving portrait of family, love, connection, and community.” (taken from https://a24films.com/films)

US 2017, 81 mins, Yiddish (subtitled)  Director Joshua Z Weinstein featuring Menashe Lustig, Ruben Nibroski

The Jews of India


Dating back to the time of King Solomon, some of the oldest Jewish communities in the world are to be found in India. In 2016, Sonia Jackson joined a tour of Indian Jewish sites and synagogues organised by Maidenhead Synagogue and led by Ralphy and Yael Jhirad. She will give an illustrated talk about the synagogues they visited and their social and historical context.

Sonia Jackson is an Emeritus Professor at UCL Institute of Education. She is a past Chair of Davar and continues to have a strong commitment to supporting Jewish cultural life in Bristol and the surrounding area

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr story

There can hardly be any more extraordinary story from the Hollywood golden age than that of Hedy Lamarr; an assimilated Austrian Jew, a very beautiful star with a moderate acting talent but an untutored brilliance in science and engineering.. Her tragedy was that she was in the wrong business, precisely that business that promotes beauty over brains – the movie business. Alexandra Dean’s excellent and important documentary about her is very instructive – a parable of modern sexual politics and assumptions about science. Lamarr was an enigma: a great brain trapped in a silly, spurious image of glamour, while her real talent was allowed to wither. A sad but fascinating story. (modified from Peter Bradshaw review)

The film has won several awards since being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, including a New York Times Critic’s Pick and five audience awards. J. Hoberman named it “one of the ten best films of 2017


Painting Exile: R. B. Kitaj, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff

T3_Kitaj cover

“The novelty of our time [is] that so many individuals have experienced the uprooting and dislocations that have made them expatriate and exiles.” The words of Edward Said encapsulate the widely-held view that exile was emblematic of the modern world. This talk will focus  upon three artists featured in the exhibition ‘Out of Chaos’ at the Laing Art Gallery in 2016-17: Frank Auerbach, R.B. Kitaj and Leon Kossoff. They were loosely grouped under the label the ‘School of London.’ Focusing especially upon the works featured in the exhibition, this talk will explore the different ways that exile is represented, imagined or displaced through each artist’s particular vision; and how that vision might have been shaped by their individual historical circumstances.

Stephen Moonie is a Lecturer in Art History in the Department of Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University. He is an expert on modernist painting and criticism, especially in the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s. He teaches widely across many areas of art history, and has published on various aspects of modern art and art criticism in recent years. He is currently interested in the legacy of the critical debates of the 1960s and the current role of art criticism.