Milim, the Jewish literary festival for Leeds got off to a gripping start once again with a host of events and author appearances.
Topics included politics, television, the arts, history, modern fiction, speakers included Gordon Black and Professor Griselda Pollock and the ever-popular intergenerational Poetry Café returned, as the fourth annual Milim Jewish Literary Festival for Leeds commenced.
This year’s festival started with the former diplomatic editor of Sky News, Tim Marshall, visiting The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) to give his unique insight into the global society and the themes of his latest book ‘Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls’.
While the world’s focus is on President Trump’s proposed wall on the US/ Mexico border, Tim reminded the audience that it’s human nature to desire our own space and countries have been building walls for the last 12,000 years. Earlier in the day, Tim addressed A-level geography students from GSAL, Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College, Elliott Hudson College and St Aidan’s CE High School.
Jonathan Straight interviewed Gordon Black at UHC Leeds on 11th March about his memoirs ‘From Bags to Blenders – The Journey of a Yorkshire Businessman’. Gordon’s story is, among other tales, about how he took a small supplier of bags and shoes to a company with a turnover of over £300 million pounds. Read his story in more detail in this edition of JLife.
At David Lloyd Sports Club three days later, Milim’s Carol Gold introduced Paul A. Mendelson, creator of several BBC hit comedy series including So Haunt Me, the hugely popular My Hero, which starred Ardal O’Hanlon, and the BAFTA-nominated May to December. Paul enthralled the audience as he explained how he developed the ideas and scripts for these much-loved programmes.
Away from comedies, Paul told the moving true story, which was the background to his first novel, ‘In the Matter of Isabel’, and also how his own successful fight against testicular cancer was the inspiration for the acclaimed TV drama, Losing It, starring Martin Clunes.
The intriguing title to his talk: Life, Art and Heinz Spaghetti, alluded to his 17-year career in advertising with the firm Ogilvy and Mather. During this time, he worked on many famous brands and products including Heinz Noodle Doodles. Unfortunately, as they are no longer available, Paul produced tins of Heinz Spaghetti and Spaghetti Hoops as props for his talk instead.
On 17th March, author Ariel Khan was Milim’s guest at MAZCC, to describe how the loss of two close friends Matt and Sara in a bus bombing in Jerusalem was the inspiration for his debut novel ‘Raising Sparks’. While they are not the characters of Moshe and Malka in the book, he went on to explain that the narrative allowed him to share his love for these two young people who died so tragically. Reading from the opening pages, Ariel took the Milim audience to the cobbled streets of the Old City conjuring up emotive images and senses.
The popular North Leeds café Ira B’s was the venue for a talk the following evening by Lyn Julius about her book ‘Uprooted: How 3,000 Years of Jewish Civilisation in the Arab World Vanished Overnight’. The audience heard how Lyn had helped found Harif, the UK Association for Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, to ensure the story of how almost a million Jews from the region have been forced to relocate since the 1940s onwards.
To keep up-to-date with Milim and its literary events, visit Milim.org.uk.
All photos: Alan Benstock