Skip Navigation LinksHome > From Sinai to the Shtetl and Beyond: Where is Home for the Jewish Writer? June 5-7, 2009

What:    A celebration of Jewish writers and writing including music, theatre, panel, speakers, workshops, book launch/cabaret.
:   Temple Anshe Sholom, 215 Cline Ave. North, Hamilton.
:    Friday, June 5, 6:30 p.m. to Sunday, June 7, 1:00 p.m.   -- come to all or some of the activities during the weekend.
:      Open to everyone

$25 registration fee covers all festival activities including Saturday kosher lunch, musical performances, panel discussion, workshops, cabaret, play reading, Sunday nosh, and a copy of the anthology created for this festival.

Our guest authors and performers come from Victoria, Guelph, Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal, Charlottetown, and Saratoga Springs, NY.  Our festival will include musical storytelling by Klezmer performer Allan Merovitz and a reading of a play by J.J. Steinfeld called The Finest Performance of the Greatest Actor of  the Yiddish Theatre.

The Friday night intimate oneg will feature a talk by Steve Stern, an American writer who includes Yiddish folklore in his fiction. See reviews of his work here.

Our panel discussion on Saturday will explore our theme = "Where is home for the Jewish writer?" We will travel from the shtetl to the kibbutz to communities in cities and suburbs and look at how writers draw on Jewish identitites for their storytelling. Panelists include J.J. Steinfeld, Steve Stern, award winninng novelist Edeet Ravel and poets Isa Milman, 2002 winner of the Jewish Book Award for Poetry and Sharon Nelson, author of many books of poetry and essays. Writer, academic and activist Nora Gold will moderate the panel.

Workshop  sessions on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning will give  participants an opportunity to meet authors in an informal setting, share  ideas, or explore their own writing.  

For further information or to volunteer, please contact Ellen Jaffe or Lil Blume


Click on the link below for a complete outline of our program read more

Concurrent Workshops

Click on the link below to see Concurrent Workshops

read more

Author Bios

Click on the link below to read the biographies of our featured authors

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Jewish Literary Festival - Anthology

 In thinking about a theme for our 2009 Jewish literary festival, we noticed that many contemporary Jewish writers turned to Yiddish folklore and shtetl life for inspiration. read more

Come to the Cabaret

    As part of the 2009 Hamilton Jewish Literary Festival (June 5-7), the organizers will publish an anthology of poetry and short fiction, written in response to our theme, “Where is Home for the Jewish Writer?”  Our yearning for home takes us back to our cultural and religious traditions, memories of grandparents and other relatives, immigration to Canada, feelings of loss and of discovery. 

    Contributions to the anthology come from writers across Canada, and several will be present on Saturday evening, June 6, to launch the book at the festival’s Cabaret.  Adding to the festivities will be Klezmer singer and story-teller Allan Merovitz, who will entertain the audience and  teach us a  Chasidic wedding dance.  The evening will culminate with the Havdalah ceremony, led by Rabbi Jordan Cohen.  The cabaret begins at 7:30 pm. at Temple Anshe Sholom, where the entire festival is being held. Join us for this exciting cabaret as well as for all the festival events.  Registration is $20.00 before May 15; $25.00 after that date, and at the door. 

    Here is a “sneak preview” from the book, by Hamilton poet Gary Barwin:

    A cloudless day in the cemetery where we have gone for the funeral of an aunt. Our five-year-old, named after his late grandfather, wanders about the headstones, dragging his fingers along the streambeds of carved-out letters. He stumbles upon his own name inscribed above a small bed of grass. He lies down, crosses his arms, closes his eyes, and waits. In time, he becomes old. The wind carves his features smooth as river rock. Someone lifts him and places him on his grandfather’s headstone. We no longer remember the town where he was born.