Posted by: jbwuk | January 6, 2010

Almost there!

Tomorrow is the day: the programme goes live and we’ll know if you like it or not. The response from JBW Friends is encouraging as are the reactions from the first people to have seen the printed programme. If you are on our mailing list, you should receive yours very soon if the snow does not play too much havoc. We can’t wait for your feedback.

I feel guilty as we had promised you a look behind the scenes of the making of a festival and did not quite keep our promise. The last few weeks before Hanukkah were pretty hectic. First we waited for a potential “big name” to agree to come to the festival. After an initial promising response, we had three weeks of unnerving silence. The clock was ticking and we were debating between pushing and provoking a no or being optimistic and holding up the whole programme on the assumption he would eventually said yes. The final ultimatum did indeed provoke a no for 2010 but a hopeful promise for 2011. Good to know….

Then with all the sessions finally agreed upon, came the writing of the programme. Having worked with the same designer for the last few years really helps. Karen is an angel of patience. Every year, we promise ourselves we’ll need fewer versions but 10 seems the magic number we cannot go under. I have to say our proof readers have eagle eyes, although I’m sure some of you will find a few mistakes.

The artwork finally went to the printer who did a fabulous job. Our first batch of programmes arrived in the office the day before Christmas, a rare treat as we normally have to wait until the beginning of January. I could go away on a high. My best holiday reading was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant which I had saved until then. What an amazing book! I loved the way she completely rewrites the story of Dinah and shows Jacob and his sons for what they most probably were: pretty rough uneducated shepherds looked after by some very brave and hard working women. I can’t wait for Anita’s contribution to our opening night, a Purim Spiel with a difference: Sex, Lies and Regal Japes: the Story of Esther, the sex-crazed king and his evil counsellor. We’ve already seen Irving Finkel’s story and it’s tremendous! And I’m sure David Aaronovitch, Assaf Gavron, Shappi Khorsandi, Kathy Lette and Simon Schama won’t disappoint us.

Now comes the dreaded time when we wonder who, among our 129 speakers, will have to cancel. This will be my fifth JBW and, as a rule, it always happens. Fingers crossed, this year will be the exception as I really love the programme and want everybody to be there.  I think this is definitely our most eclectic programme ever with sessions for everyone, from football to philosophy, Jewish revival in Poland to peace in the Middle East, queer theory to bad scientific ideas, the threats to democracy to fighting for justice, not eating animals to feeding our children well and much more.

So from tomorrow, we’ll have to stop ourselves from checking ticket sales every 10 minutes to find out which sessions appeal to you and if we programmed right or not.

Now because the 27 February is quite a long way away, we thought we’d have a little get together in January. Why not join us for our first ever literary quiz on 18 January? It will take place at the plush Lockside Lounge. Our hosts Lana Citron (last seen blowing kisses from the plinth in Trafalgar Square) and Cosmo Landesman (who told us so entertainingly about his parents’ quest for fame at the last JBW) are sure to make it a lot of fun and we promise the questions will just tickle your brains and there will be something for everyone, not just the super litterati (but just a hint, a good read of the programme might come handy….). Bring your friends and book a table for six or come on your own and meet some interesting people. Tickets are only £15 per person. We are also collecting desirable prizes for the raffle and our quiz winners. It will be a great night and a lovely boost to JBW.




  1. As long as Thirlwell and Self don’t bail.

    Am salivating at the prospect of getting the two of them into one room to do a taxonomy of semitism.

  2. As long as Thirlwell and Self don’t bail.

    Am salivating at the prospect of hearing the two of them in one room doing a taxonomy of semitism.

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