Leeds Literary Festival

Words, Culture and Heritage for All



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Milim Spring 2019

Emil Draitser

Laughing All the Way to Freedom: Americanization of a Russian Jewish Emigre

All immigrants of the world coming to America expect it to be like their home country—only better. What they often fail to consider is that, like that of any other nation, America’s DNA differs from that of their country. It may take a lifetime to adjust to the unfamiliar country’s culture, mentality, and way of doing many things differently from the way they have known. It is especially true when immigrants come to America from a country based on different principles, in this case, collectivist Russia versus individualist America, with opposing political systems—the democratic American one and the totalitarian Soviet.
         This book is an account of the author’s coming to America a half-century ago with certain, mostly mistaken, expectations, and of the process of discovery on his way to becoming an American himself.     In his essays, the author uses self-deprecating humor to recollect his growing pains as he overcomes his upbringing in a totalitarian society to embrace America’s defining values.
Emil Draitser is an award-winning author of artistic and scholarly prose. Originally a freelance journalist in the Soviet Union, where his work appeared in the leading periodicals Izvestiya, Literary Gazette, Youth, and Crocodile under the pen name “Emil Abramov,” he was blacklisted for a satirical article. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States, where he has been a professor of Russian at Hunter College in New York City since 1986. Besides his seventeen books, Draitser has published essays and short stories in the Los Angeles Times, Partisan Review, North American Review, Prism International, World Literature Today, and other American, Canadian, and British periodicals. His work has also appeared in Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Israeli journals.

Jeremy Brown

The Eleventh Plague: Jews and Pandemics from the Bible to COVID-19

Jeremy Brown, physician and historian of science and medicine at the United States National Institute of Health tells the hidden story of how plagues and pandemics shaped the history of the Jewish people.

In The Eleventh Plague, Brown investigates the relation between Judaism and infectious diseases throughout the ages, from premodern and early-modern plagues, to rabbinic responses to smallpox and cholera, to the special vulnerabilities Jewish immigrants faced in the US as result of prejudice, and to the curious practice of “Black Weddings” in which two orphans are married in a cemetery. Popularised during the 1918 influenza pandemic the practice was revived in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, showing that the intriguing relationship between Judaism and infectious disease remains relevant today.

Roy Homburg

The story of a life of fertility, feuds and flying. Eighty shades of Oy Vay.

Roy Homburg was born and bred in Leeds, educated at Roundhay School and qualified as a doctor at Middlesex Hospital, London University in 1966. After volunteering in 1967, Israel has been his home since. He served in the air force special flying unit for rescue and evacuation from 1969 to 2000, participated in all the wars and was decorated for a rescue in 1985. Professor Homburg has held posts as Professor and Head of Ob/Gyn at Tel Aviv University, Professor of Reproductive Medicine at VUMC, Amsterdam and at Queen Mary, London University. He has published 320 research articles/chapters in books and has written/edited 14 books. He has been invited to lecture worldwide frequently and has won prizes for research at the British, American, European and Israel Fertility Societies. He has served as Associate Editor for several prestigious professional journals and was the International Adviser for Reproductive Endocrinology for the European Society and is the Principal Coordinator of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility of International Society of IVF. He regards his biggest achievement as playing cricket for Israel.

This is a joint event with the Yorkshire Jewish Medical Professional’s Archive.



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