Catch up with our online events

In conversation with Esther Amini

Jonathan Straight in conversation with Esther Amini who is a writer, painter, and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. Her short stories have appeared in Elle, Lilith, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, TK University’s Inscape Literary, Proximity, Paper Brigade, and Zibby Owens’ Anthology: “Moms Don’t Have Time To.”

She was named one of Aspen Words’ two best emerging memoirists and awarded its Emerging Writer Fellowship in 2016 based on her memoir entitled: “Concealed.” Her pieces have been performed by Jewish Women’s Theatre in Los Angeles and in Manhattan, and was chosen by JWT as their Artist-in-Residence in 2019.

Esther Amini was awarded the Aspen Words-2016 Emerging Writer Fellowship and also was selected by Jewish Women’s Theatre as their 2019 Artist-in-Residence.  Her memoir draws us into the life of a Jewish/Iranian daughter caught between two worlds: Iran and America.  A dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows.


Orphaned at birth, Esther’s illiterate mother, Hana, was strong-armed at age fourteen into marrying Esther’s then thirty-four-year-old father, Fatulla.  In Mashhad, Iran they lived underground like the Marranos of Spain.  The life-threatening anti-Semitism in Mashhad forced Esther’s mother to hide her identity by wearing the black chador while her father prayed from the Koran in public squares, each posing as Muslim.  However, within the secrecy of their home they lived as devout Jews.  At the end of World War II, incensed by persecution, Hana led her husband and two sons to the States. Shortly afterwards, Esther was born in New York City, and this is where her story begins.


Esther says, “Growing up first generation American during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, I was baffled, enraged and in awe of my family. The overriding feeling was that my parents each left one leg in medieval Mashhad, with a strong urge to keep me veiled.  My father’s terror of the outside world and my mother’s hunger for it spilled into our raucous home.”


Her memoir highlights her longing to separate herself from her father’s watchful eye and her mother’s eccentric ways of soaking up the American culture.  CONCEALED speaks not only to Iranians and their first-generation American children, but to every immigrant and descendent who feels the poignant and complicated push-pull of legacy.  The universal themes of family and loyalty, honoring traditional customs vs. breaking the mold, fighting oppression and yearning for hope all bear witness to Esther trying to understand it and then struggling with what to keep and what to discard.

In conversation with Elizabeth Green

Born in Croydon, Surrey, and raised in North London, Elizabeth Green is the sister of well known and controversial billionaire Sir Philip Green. She, ironically, was missing adoration and attention both in the family and out in the world. This is her coming of age moment, her coming out of the shadows moment, her having a voice moment. Currently in New York City, Elizabeth owns the West Village restaurant Planted.


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Not In The Script: The Black Sheep in the Billionaire’s Family

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"If I should forget you..." Award-nominated author Charles Harris on his new amnesia-based psychological thriller "Room 15"

In his best-selling new novel, “Room 15” a police detective with amnesia suspects he’s witnessed a murder and that someone is trying to kill him before he gets his memory back.

Charles Harris talks about how the idea behind “Room 15” first came to him and how he developed it. Memory is a hot topic nowadays. As a Jewish writer and also qualified in Ericksonian hypnosis, he is only too aware of the importance of remembrance… but perhaps there are sometimes things that are best forgotten. Through the lens of a crime thriller, he wanted to explore the experience of forgetting. And the fear of what you might remember when memories return.

A successful film-maker, Charles Harris began as a film editor before writing and directing for cinema, BBC and Channel 4, winning awards for his work. His movie “Paradise Grove” starred Ron Moody and was named by the Jewish Chronicle as the Anglo-Jewish film of the year.”

He has since moved into writing novels and his debut, the tabloid satire “The Breaking of Liam Glass”, became a number 1 Amazon best-seller and was nominated for two international awards. “Room 15” was published by Bloodhound Books in July 2020. He is married and has two cats who live with him in London and two sons who don’t.

In conversation with Dror Mishani

Jonathan Straight is in conversation with Dror Mishani , the best-selling crime writer, screenwriter and literary scholar. He also specialises in the history of crime fiction, and is head of the creative writing program in Tel Aviv University

Speaking for the Silenced

Until the middle of the 20th Century, almost all historical texts were written from the point of view of the people who won the wars and elections. This is still largely the case in many countries, where those who have been defeated have had their suffering minimized or completely excluded from serious discussion.
When growing up in America Richard Zimler saw how only, no more than a few hours was spent in high school exploring the culture, traditions and history of the Native Americans. Our American history book did not devote a single page to their genocide.
One of his objectives in researching and writing historical novels is to try to right this wrong: to explore the lives – and struggles – of those who have been systemically shunned, minimized and silenced. He regards this as an essential – and highly subversive – project and is proud of the influence that his books about Jewish-Portuguese history have had all over the world but especially in Portugal, where he has lived for the last 30 years.

The Jews from Egypt - from Exodus to Exodus

This illustrated talk will look at the history and life of Jews in Egypt, with particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries which saw the community rise to 90,000 and contribute significantly to the political, commercial and artistic development of the country. Sadly, following the mass expulsions in the wake of the Arab – Israel conflicts, less than 10 Jews remain today in Egypt. The talk will also recall the return of 180 Jews to Alexandria last February to rededicate the main Eliahu Hanavi synagogue which has been restored by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities at a cost of $ 4 million.


Alec Nacamuli was born in Alexandria which he left aged 13 after the Suez Crisis in 1956. He is a council member of the Association of Jews from Egypt and the Nebi Daniel International Association, which strives to protect the Jewish religious and cultural heritage in Egypt. He writes articles and gives lectures on the Jews from Arab countries, and is a volunteer guide on Ancient Egypt at the British Museum

A visit to the Blue Highlands Raptor Rescue & Avian Conservation Centre

In the company of Jonathan Straight and Claire Brown, we return Brora, the small industrial village in the Highlands of Scotland , and the home of Lord Michele(Michael) Righetti and Lady Hadassah Broscova Sarunac-Righetti, Countess of Vrelo. During this visit we learning more of the work of Lady Hadassah and the Blue Highlands Raptor Rescue & Avian Conservation Centre about running the centre in an Orthodox Jewish life . We will also be meeting some of the birds

Taking the Waters - Jews and Harrogate

This talk visits  the monuments and tells you some of the many stories about the people and personalities who were part of Harrogate’s history.

Nigel Grizzard came North after working as researcher for the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Working in West Yorkshire he became aware of the county’s wider Jewish past and has researched, written and guided many groups around a number of different towns and cities. Nigel is now the Jewish Heritage Guide for Yorkshire and is looking forward to the day when he can take groups around Yorkshire’s Jewish sites.


The Jewish Disease ? Tay-Sachs in Science, History and Pedagogy

Greg Radick is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. He arrived at Leeds in 2000 after studies at Rutgers (BA History) and Cambridge (MPhil & PhD History and Philosophy of Science). In his final year at Cambridge he was the Charles and Katharine Darwin Research Fellow at Darwin College. At Leeds he has served as Director of the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science (2006-8) and the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (2014-7). He is a past President of the British Society for the History of Science (2014-6) and currently President of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. His books include The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language (awarded the 2010 Suzanne J. Levinson Prize of the History of Science Society for best book in the history of the life sciences and natural history) and, as co-editor, The Cambridge Companion to Darwin. He contributes to the Times Literary Supplement, and has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time and PBS’s Genius by Stephen Hawking. From 2017 to 2019 he held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for work on a book about the debate over Mendelism.


This is a joint event with the Leeds Branch of the Jewish Historical Society

From the Polish Rynek to Costa Rican Pura Vida

Silvana Botbol tells of the birth and development of the Costa Rican Jewish Community from its founders and its evolution through successive immigration waves and the building of its institutions.
Silvana Botbolam from Venezuela and migrated with her family to Costa Rica 15 years ago. She have a BA in Political Science and International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Law degrees both in Venezuela and Costa Rica from Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and University of Costa Rica (UCR) . Silvana specialize in international corporate law and all her life has been actively involved in the Jewish life of the communities in which she lived. From 2015 till this year Silvana was the Director of Institutional Relations of the Jewish Community in Costa Rica, enrolled under its umbrella institution the Jewish-Zionist Center of Costa Rica.

The Karma Effect: A Divorce Lawyer's Diary

etting a divorce can bring out monsters and malice, lack of compassion and vindictiveness in the person with whom you shared a bed for years and established blood ties by bringing children into the world.

This behavior, however, will usually find its way back to the wrongdoer, sooner or later, and hit with a vengeance. After all, it is a well-known fact that Karma is a Bitch.

This book is a close examination of the institution of marriage and the process of divorce, providing valuable insights that might preserve your marriage—or at the very least, allow you to go through divorce procedures wisely, manage the proceedings effectively, with legal and personal humanness. It also answers the following critical, burning questions:

  • What are the monsters that gnaw away at your marriage?
  • How can you protect your children as much as possible during the process?
  • Can you prevent divorce wars, and are there any that end well?
  • Can cheating save the institution of marriage?
  • What does refusal to sign a financial settlement mean?


Adv. Ruth Dayan Wolfner, holds an LL.B. degree cum laude from the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, as well as a B.A. in Criminology, Sociology and Anthropology from Bar Ilan University. As the founder of the largest and one of the most prestigious law firms in Israel specialised in family affairs, she has accumulated extensive experience by representing hundreds of clients in divorce cases and settling other kinds of family disputes in the civil Family Affairs Courts, Rabbinical Courts and other courts in Israel. Ruth has obtained diplomas in several training courses in the area of Family Law in Israel, as well as an advanced course in Collaborative Divorce, in New York. Ruth is the co-author of the book The Israeli Guide to Divorce, published in 2003. She is also the initiator and founder of Get Up, one of the leading websites in its field, as well as the “Lareshet” website, which deals with inheritance law.





The Social History of English Afternoon Tea

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated

to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James, novelist




This fascinating and mouth-watering illustrated talk covers how tea drinking was first introduced into England, how it was popularised and how afternoon tea became asocial institution.


Using vibrant on screen displays, it will include the introduction of delicious tea menu items; the customs and etiquette surrounding afternoon tea; examples of the finest silver and porcelain tea-ware; the surprisingly risqué connotation of afternoon tea gowns; the rise of public tea rooms and tea dances; the ancient symbolism of birthday celebrations and the current nostalgic popularity of vintage afternoon teas.


The talk is given by Gillian Walnes Perry MBE, writer, speaker and lecturer, recently retired from her full-time role as Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Anne Frank Trust UK, while remaining its Honorary Vice President. She has many years’ experience of speaking and broadcasting in the UK and around the world, in venues such as 10 Downing Street and the United Nations.

To donate to  WIZO Leeds in support of Barzilai Hospital Ashkelon Israel in honour of Leila Wynbourne MBE z”l  click here




The Making of Mr Irresistible

Larry Gould was inspired to write mhis book for three reasons. Firstly, it is the 40th anniversary of his business. Secondly, he wanted his children and grandchildren to know more about their  family history, and lastly, he was inspired by his journeys back to Eastern Europe. From his research through Ancestry.com, he discovered all the small towns and villages where mhis family came from. Investigating what happened to the Jews in those places, he learned that most were killed or driven out by the locals or sent to Nazi death camps. Those who survived ended up in the UK or the US, where the majority created new and successful lives. As he grew up,he was often troubled by the stories of their suffering, but perhaps it was their suffering that impelled him to deal with his own failures. These survivors constantly reminded me how lucky he was despite some of the very difficult experienceshe had.


In my memoir, he take you on a journey from one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Leeds to one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the Hamptons, New York. You will laugh and you will cry. From starting my career as a 15-year-old school dropout to creating two multi-million pound businesses. he experienced many bumps in the road in both my personal and business life as he travelled around the world from the Soviet Union to the United States, Israel to Ethiopia, and more. Through it all, heovercome hardships by making himself irresistible—a word that is my driving force in business and in life. In recalling his life story, he also give readers a fascinating look at the formation of his Jewish identity in a Christian culture.

Larry J Gould is a high school dropout who went on to receive an honorary doctorate. Born in Leeds, England, he is the founder, Chairman, and Irresistible Consultant for thebigword Group, which he formed in 1980, now one of the largest Language Technology companies in the world. He is a business mentor at Cornell Tech, delivering sales and marketing courses for post-doctorate entrepreneurs, challenging them to become irresistible.

The Making of Mr Irresistible is available on

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Mr-Irresistible-Larry-Gould/dp/1665580003/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1600937645&refinements=p_27%3ALarry+Gould&s=books&sr=1-1

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-making-of-mr-irresistible/larry-j-gould//9781665580007


Kristallnacht (November 9-10 1938) The Day the Holocaust Began

In this illustrated presentation Ian Vellins examines the history of the events that night, what preceded them, and the after-affects on the Jewish populations.
Ian Vellins is a retired lawyer,immigration judge, and tax judge. He was educated at Roundhay School and Oxford University graduating with a 1st class degree in law.  He subsequently practised as a solicitor in Bradford and then Leeds. He was appointed as a part-time Immigration Judge and VAT and Taxes Judge for some 20 years. On retirement he studied for an MA degree at Manchester University in Holocaust Studies under Jean-Marc Dreyfus and then for a further MA degree at Leeds University in Modern History, where his Dissertation on The Kindertransport gained a distinction.
He has lectured to many organisations on Holocaust-related themes, on Jewish literature and Looted Art.

Protocols of the Elders of Zion

This talk focuses on the notorious antisemitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It uses recent research to ask some key questions: where did this tract originate, why was it so widely distributed, and was it really a ‘warrant for genocide’, providing the impulse that drove Hitler to launch the Holocaust? Does it provide a classic example of the dangers of conspiracy theories if they are left to proliferate and spread across the world? The Protocols are often seen as the most important conspiracist text of antisemitism, raising the question of how far antisemitism itself is a conspiracy theory. Beyond this, the Protocols point to a further, often overlooked issue: to what extent, and in what way antisemitism was, and is, different from other kinds of racism.

Richard J Evans is Regius Professor Emeritus of History at Cambridge University and the author of many books on modern German history, including ‘The Coming of the Third Reich’, ‘The Third Reich in Power’ and ‘The Third Reich at War”. His book “The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914”, a volume in the Penguin History of Europe, was published in 2016. He was the principal expert witness in the libel action brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt in 2000 over allegations of Holocaust denial and the falsification of evidence, as depicted in the movie “Denial”. He was knighted in 2012 for services to scholarship.

Richard J. Evans’s latest book, “The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich  and the Paranoid Imagination” was published by Allen Lane (The Penguin Press) on 1 October