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Double Bill: ‘The Book Smugglers’ and ‘Kafka’s Last Trial’

Jewish Book Week

Sun 10 Mar 2019

Double Bill: ‘The Book Smugglers’ and ‘Kafka’s Last Trial’

Jewish Book Week

Double Bill Offer: Book for the Jewish Book Week events in Hall Two tonight – ‘The Book Smugglers’ at 11am and ‘Kafka’s Last Trial’ at 2pm – to receive a 20% discount. 

Please note, this offer cannot be combined with other Jewish Book Week offers.

In a history book that reads like a thriller, The Book Smugglers charts the incredible story of the ghetto inmates who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts – first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets – by hiding them on their bodies, burying them in bunkers, and smuggling them across borders. In doing so, this daring group of poets turned partisans, and scholars turned smugglers, saved the treasures of Vilna, ‘the Jerusalem of Lithuania’.

David E. Fishman teaches history at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His involvement with the story recounted in The Book Smugglers began twenty-five years ago, when he was invited to consult on items discovered in a former church in Vilnius. He is the author of four scholarly monographs and one textbook.

James Libson is a partner at Mishcon de Reya, solicitors, where he has been for 27 years.  He has acted in many high profile cases including for Deborah Lipstadt in her case against David Irving, Gina Miller in her challenge to the government over Article 50, and most recently on behalf of Margaret Hodge MP resisting her expulsion from the Labour Party.

He chaired World Jewish Relief from 2011-16 and currently chairs Prism, the Gift Fund.  He has an Honorary Ph.D. from the University of Law.

Sponsored by the National Library of Israel.

When Franz Kafka died in 1924, his loyal champion Max Brod could not bring himself to fulfil his friend’s last instruction: to burn his remaining manuscripts. Instead, Brod devoted the rest of his life to publishing and canonising Kafka’s work. That ‘betrayal’ of his friend’s last wish led to an international legal battle – raising the question of whether Kafka’s papers should come to rest in Germany, or be considered the cultural inheritance of Israel. Or is there another unexpected answer to this dilemma?

Our panel discuss the gripping account of the Israeli court case that determined the fate of the Brod/Kafka legacy.

Benjamin Balint, a writer and translator living in Jerusalem, has taught literature in the Bard College humanities program at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

The New York Times called his first book Running Commentary (Public Affairs, 2010) “beautifully written and richly researched.” His second book was Jerusalem: City of the Book (co-authored with Merav Mack). Balint’s reviews and essays regularly appear in The Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Haaretz, The Weekly Standard, and The Claremont Review of Books. His translations of Hebrew poetry have appeared in The New Yorker.

Stefan Litt is an archival expert at the National Library of Israel, where he is in charge of European language holdings, featuring authors such as Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, and others. He received his PhD in Pre-Modern Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001), and a post-doctoral degree (habilitation) from Graz University/Austria (2008).

He did research and was visiting professor at the universities of Erfurt and Duesseldorf in Germany, Graz in Austria, as well as Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan in Israel. He has published on the history of early modern European Jewry and on Jewish archival collections.

Rebecca Abrams is an award winning author of fiction and non-fiction, regular literary critic for The Financial Times and former columnist for The Daily Telegraph. She is Writer-in-Residence at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Sponsored by the National Library of Israel.

Date & start time:Sun 10 Mar 2019 – 11am
Venue:Hall Two

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