Keep the culture alive


The Jewish Literary Festival, the first of its kind in the country, will be taking place in Cape Town later this month.

Event organisers hope the festival, which coincides with the 175th anniversary of Cape Town’s Jewish community, will become an annual one.

The festival will take place on Sunday May 22 at the Gardens Community Centre, home to the acclaimed Jacob Gitlin Library which is partnering the festival as well as the Cape Jewish Chronicle.

One of the event organisers, Cindy Moritz, said they got the inspiration from what other countries were doing. She said the group of volunteers first started talking about organising a festival at the beginning of last year.

“We saw what they were doing in London and Melbourne and thought we could do something like that.”

The Fresnaye resident added, “We thought it would take a couple of months to organise. However, we soon realised it was a lot more work and took a little over a year.”

Ms Moritz said one of the aims of the festival was to promote literature among children, and there would also be a wide range of topics covered, from politics to business, economics and psychology.

But it would also focus on memories and documenting the past 175 years of the Jewish community in Cape Town, she added.

“We would like to be a part of the literary calender and the event to be an annual one,” said Ms Moritz, who has a background in writing and editing. “We’ve had such a positive response from people wanting to be a part of it.”

Joanne Jowell , one of the authors who will be speaking at the event, said she would be talking about taboo writing topics and would also be talking about her latest book. “There will be a wide range of topics discussed, it will be for the lovers of words and text. “The idea of words as a preservation of memory is a very important one and very important historically to the Jewish community.”

The festival may be the first of it’s kind in the country, but Ms Jowell said it was high time that there was a festival of this nature. “There are examples of festivals being successful in other countries and there is a big and vibrant Jewish community in Cape Town.”

“My background in writing came out of an academic interest in psychology. I then took it further and did a Master’s (degree) in creative writing at UCT. I feel that all writers are passionate about it and do some form of it every day. These days there are a lot of platforms such as social media and online bogging.”

Ms Jowell added that youngsters should take advantage of these platforms and that the most important thing is to write.

The festival programme has been designed to appeal to all ages and cover a range of genres. It aims to promote constructive dialogue and discussion without promoting any single political or religious agenda.

The festival takes place on Sunday May 22 from 9am to 5pm. For enquiries send an email to or or visit

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