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There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream

There Was a Fire takes readers on a wild ride through American popular music history, discovering the voices, sounds and sentiments of Jewish immigrants and telling the story of how popular song defined the American Dream. This is an updated, second edition; the first edition was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.


BEN SIDRAN has recorded thirty-seven solo albums, produced recordings for numerous artists including Van Morrison, Diana Ross, Mose Allison, and Jon Hendricks, and is the music producer of the acclaimed film Hoop Dreams; he hosted “Jazz Alive” and “Sidran on Record” for National Public Radio and “New Visions” for VH-1 television. Sidran is the author of four previous books and holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Sussex University.

Yellow Star-Red Star

What is the role of memory in history? Dr Agnes Kaposi, MBE, FREng, is an Hungarian-born British engineer, educator and author. In 2020, Dr Kaposi published her autobiography Yellow Star-Red Star. The narrative is underscored by the historian Dr László Csősz and illustrated by maps, documents, archival images and family photographs. This memoir is a candid account of life in Hungary before, during and after the Second World War, and her escape to Britain.

Over the course of only two months, aided by the Hungarian gendarmerie, the Nazis murdered almost half a million Hungarian Jews. Agnes was there, witnessing the events. As a young girl she survived the Debrecen ghetto, worked as a child labourer in the camps of Austria and lost half her family. Liberated from the camps by the Soviet army, Agnes returned to Hungary where a Stalinist regime followed. In 1951, she graduated from the Technical University of Budapest with a degree in electrical /electronic engineering, contributing to the development of the Hungarian TV broadcasting infrastructure. After the 1956 Uprising against Communist rule, she escaped from her native Hungary and obtained a labour permit to work in England as an industrial researcher in the Telecommunication and Computer industries. In 1971, Dr Kaposi obtained her PhD in Computer Aided Design. She is a Churchill Fellow and was the third woman to have been elected as Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She worked in research, education and as consultant to industrial organisations and universities in the UK and overseas. She is a role model for women in Science and Engineering

When the spirit of Judah Maccabee hovered over Whitechapel- The March of the Jewish legion

Just before leaving to fight in Israel, parts of the Jewish Legion were ordered to march through Whitechapel and the City of London in February 1918 to ‘show the flag’ and acknowledge the Jewish contribution to winning the war especially in the Jewish heart of London. Very little was written or even mentioned about this major historic Anglo-Jewish event

Author and AJEX archivist Martin Sugarman has pieced this together through detailed research in newspapers of the time, which remain the only source of information about what happened

Prison Minyan

The scene is Otisville Prison, upstate New York. A crew of fraudsters, tax evaders, trigamists and forgers discuss matters of right and wrong in a Talmudic study and prayer group, or ‘minyan’, led by a rabbi who’s a fellow convict.

As the only prison in the federal system with a kosher deli and sabbath services, Otisville is the real-life penitentiary of choice for white- collar Jewish offenders, many of whom secretly like the place. They’ve learned to play the system, so when the regime is toughened to punish a newly arrived celebrity convict who has upset the 45th president, they find devious ways to fight back.

Shadowy forces up the ante by trying to ‘Epstein’ – ie assassinate – the newcomer, and visiting poetry professor Deborah Liston ends up in dire peril when she sees too much. She has helped the minyan look into their souls. Will they now step up to save her?

Stone brings the sensibility of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth to a sharply comic novel that is also wise, profound, and deeply moral.

Jonathan Stone has published nine mystery and suspense novels, including Die Next, Days of Night, The Teller, Parting Shot, and the bestseller Moving Day. Several of his books have been optioned to Hollywood, and Moving Day is set up as a film at Lionsgate Entertainment. His short stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2016New Haven Noir, and four Mystery Writers of America anthologies: The Mystery BoxIce Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold WarWhen A Stranger Comes to Town; and Crime Hits Home.  He is married, with a son and daughter.


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What does a Jew look like?

Earlier this year, Keith Kahn-Harris published a book called What does a Jew look like?, a collaboration with the photographer Rob Stothard. The book tries to challenge the use of stock photos of strictly orthodox Jews in the British media, by presenting portraits that capture the diversity of British Jews. But demonstrating diversity carries its own dilemmas. In this talk Keith Kahn-Harris will explore the challenges in explaining Jewish diversity to the wider world

Keith Kahn-Harris is a writer and sociologist. He is a senior lecturer at Leo Baeck College and a Fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. What does a Jew look like? is his eighth book.

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Being frum in post-war Britain: Making sense of changing religious culture and traditions

Most historians have understood changing religious practice in post-war Britain in terms of a sharp polarization between those becoming more religious and the growing numbers of secular/non-practising Jews.


This talk will explore what really happened to religious practice in post-war Britain and question whether the changes experienced might in fact point to a community where people have more in common than they realise.


Gavin Shaffer  is a social and cultural historian specialising in the history of race and immigration in the twentieth century. He spent several years researching the place of race in science, which led to his 2008 monograph, Racial Science and British Society. Subsequently, he has written a book about racism and the media, looking in detail at television’s attempts to deal with multiculturalism in the 1960s and 1970s. As part of his longstanding interest in Jewish

Shooting paramedics and refugees.


Shooting paramedics and refugees.

Adventures with my camera and Magen David Adom the Israeli ambulance service.

In March 2022, photographer Jonathan Straight was invited on a flight from London to Warsaw to document the rescue of 54 Ukrainian orphan refugees. His involvement was due to a longstanding relationship with the Israeli ambulance and blood service, Magen David Adom who unlikely partner in the mission.

In 2017 and 2018, Jonathan spent several days working ambulance shifts volunteer and photographing what he saw. The result has as been he the publication of two photo-books as well as his work featuring on advertisements, publicity materials and even greetings cards for the London-based fundraising branch of the organisation.

Beginning by taking candid photographs of strangers, Jonathan has established himself as a documentary and portrait photographer a one of the many hats of he currently wears. Working with charities has been way of giving something back while gaining an international audience In to for his work. In addition to his projects for MDA, he has published a study of the vegan community in Iceland, has recently completed a paid commission in the South Elmsall museum hub for Wakefield Council and exhibited his work several galleries.

Illustrated with many of his trademark black and white photographs, this evening promises to give a fascinating insight into Jonathan’s artistic practice.

Jews by the Seaside - The Jewish Hotels and Guest Houses of Bournemouth

Social Historian Pam Fox will be talking about the rise and decline of Bournemouth’s Jewish hotels and guest houses within the context of Anglo-Jewish history, the growth of Bournemouth as a premier resort and the evolution of its Jewish community.
Starting with the appearance of the first small Jewish boarding houses in the late nineteenth century, which gradually became larger and more comfortable guest houses, her recently released book Jews by the Seaside charts the emergence of evermore luxurious hotels during the inter-war years
The book explores the decline and changing nature of Bournemouth’s Jewish holiday trade before examining different aspects of hotel and guest house life, the kosher food, religious activities, and entertainment.


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The Last Days of Stalin

The Last Days of Stalin takes us back to the second half of 1952 when no one could foresee an end to Joseph Stalin’s murderous regime. He was poised to challenge the newly elected US Presiden Dwight Eisenhower with armed force and was broadening a vicious campaign against Soviet Jews. Stalin’s sudden collapse and death in March 1953 was as dramatic and mysterious as his life. no overstatement to say that his passing marked a major turning point in the twentieth century. But after Stalin’s death, the overly cautious response by the Eisenhower administration to the Kremlin’s conciliatory gestures missed an opportunity to significantly reduce the tensions of the Cold War.

Joshua Rubenstein is a longtime Associate of Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and is also Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School. He was the Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International USA for 37 years. His first book, Soviet Dissidents: Their Struggle for Human Rights, was the first general history of the Soviet dissident movement. Tangled Loyalties, his biography of the controversial Soviet-Jewish writer Ilya Ehrenburg, came out in 1996. Stalin’s Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, received a National Jewish Book Award. He then edited The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov and The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories. His interpretive biography of Leon Trotsky is part of the Jewish Lives Series of Yale University Press. The Last Days of Stalin is his tenth book; it has appeared in Estonian, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, and Ukrainian, while editions in Azeri, Czech, and French are awaited. Mr. Rubenstein was in Israel in December 2019 and January 2020 to help promote the Hebrew edition.

Lesser-Known Legacies of the Nuremberg Trials

The famous Nuremberg Trials persecuted Nazi officials for crimes against humanity during an international trial that changed the world and our concepts of human rights. But the Nuremberg Trials were also the setting for many lesser-known historical precedents. Dr Chelsea Sambells, of the Holocaust Centre North, will discuss these historical firsts as they relate to the fields of translation and interpretation, medical experimentation, and the legal classification of genocides today.

Dr Chelsea Sambells is a Research Fellow in Modern European History at the University of Huddersfield and Head of Research at the Holocaust Centre North. Her first book (due out in 2023) is called The Exceptional Evacuation, and it focuses on the wartime child evacuations to Switzerland to offer new insights into European humanitarian efforts between 1939 and 1945. Chelsea’s research chiefly studies how governments and NGOs protect and treat refugees and children during war. She was recently published in European History Quarterly.

Mother's Boy: A Writer's Beginnings

After six years Howard Jacobson returns to Milim when he will be in conversation with Jonathan Straight about his latest book MOTHER’S BOY: A Writer’s Beginnings

Howard Jacobson has written sixteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question; he was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for J.


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Tom Stoppard Becoming Jewish Again

In this illustrated presentation, lan Vellins will talking about life and works of playwright Tom Stoppard


Ian is returning to Milim for a third year. He 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.

Plunder: A memoir of family property and stolen Nazi treasure

Jonathan Straight is in conversation at UHC Leeds with American author Menachem Kaiser about his latest book

In 2015 Menachem Kaiser discovered that the grandfather he had never met had tried for 30 years to reclaim an apartment building in Sosnowiec that had belonged to his family prior to World War Two.
The Fulbright Fellow decided to take up his case and was soon on a circuitous path to encounters with long-time residents of the building and a Polish lawyer known as ‘The Killer’.

Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure also involving astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters and the revelation of a relative surviving the war is described by The New York Times as a ‘twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story’ and ‘an often hilarious, often poignant odyssey’ by The New Yorker.

The Jewish Contribution to English Law

In The Jewish Contribution to English Law, Barrington Black explains how Jews first came to the UK, were expelled, returned, and eventually took their place in Parliament and on the bench. He tells of the first Jewish lawyers as well as those who rose to be judges, President of the Supreme Court, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Chancellor, Master of the Rolls and Attorney-General.

Barrington Black was born in Leeds, educated at Cowper Street, Harehills, Roundhay, and Leeds University, where he produced the Rag Revue at Leeds Empire and was President of the Union. He specialised in Criminal Defence for many years appearing in high-profile cases including representing Donald Nielsen (‘The Black Panther’). He then became a Stipendiary Magistrate, (district judge) progressed to Circuit Judge, and rounded off his long judicial career as a Supreme Court Justice in Gibraltar.

Around the World in 80 Trees

In this copiously illustrated talk, Jonathan Drori brings to life the science of trees by revealing how their worlds are intricately entwined with our own history, culture and folklore.

Jonathan Drori CBE is Trustee of The Eden Project, Ambassador for the WWF and previously a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The Woodland Trust. He was Executive Producer of more than fifty popular BBC TV series on science and technology; his TED talks have been viewed millions of times; and his previous book, Around the World in 80 Trees is a bestseller, now in 19 languages.