Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival: It Started with a Word

By  |  0 Comments

By: Nu Tran








As one of only five cities in the world to hold the status of UNESCO City of Literature, it is only appropriate that the Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival finally hits our shores.

With notable success in Sydney over the past few years, the first Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival was taking phone calls from people wanting tickets before the program was even released.

First time festival director, Esther Kister, said that the public response has been very positive.

“Every time we mentioned having a Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival, peoples’ eyes light up. It’s really captured peoples’ imaginations.

“We’ve had people say, ‘It’s about time we’ve had a Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival,’” Kister said.

The festival was initially meant to be only one day, but the project expanded as more and more writers approached Kister; the line-up now includes over 80 writers spread across three days.

Kister said Jewish writing brings a unique element to the writing community.

“We’ve got a very long tradition. We’ve always been known as people of the book. We’ve got a long tradition of oral culture, written culture, education, experiences of persecution, displacement, building communities, learning new ways, these are all thing that we bring,” she said.

Kister wants the event to draw crowds from all literary groups and reach out to the community.

“The objection is to showcase these writers and give them a nod in their own community. We should be proud of these people – the writers, the readers, people who live in the area – we want to encourage everyone to come,” Kister said.

With international acts, interstate performances, and local readings, the festival has a diverse mix of guest performers including well-known American psychiatrist, Irvin Yalom, writer and acitivist, Renata Singer, and local comedy favourite and best-selling author, John Safran.

With events including free readings, talks by musicologists, Jewish food, events for kids, cartooning workshops, story book workshops, puppeteers and performance artists, the festival is all inclusive and fun for audiences of all ages.


The Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival opens May 31 at the Glen Eira Town Hall and continues on June 1 – 2 at The Lamm Jewish Library of Australia in Caulfield

Find us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on Facebook