Introducing the Global Jewish Literary Alliance!

Gordon Haber

A new Jewish arts and culture organization has launched, and we at CANVAS want to share our excitement.

The Global Jewish Literary Alliance (GJLA) looks to provide community and resources for Jewish writers and writers on topics of Jewish interest—strengthening the international Jewish arts and culture ecosystem by inspiring authors and forging connections between Jewish literary artists.

It’s a collaboration between four great organizations:

  • The UK’s Wingate Literary Prize, which is given to the best book—fiction or non-fiction—that “translates the idea of Jewishness to the general reader.”
  • JW3, the UK’s first and only Jewish Community Center and arts venue. 
  • Jewish Book Council (JBC), a CANVAS grantee network that celebrates and supports Jewish literature.
  • JCC Asso­ci­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca (JCCA), which leads and connects JCCs in the US and Canada. 

Despite its broad reach, the GJLA “is really a simple idea, encouraging Jewish writers, connecting Jewish writers,” said Juliet Simmons, Director of the Wingate Literary Prize. “But sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective.”

(Simmons is also a Reboot alum who co-created What Would You Bring, an online exhibition of refugee stories told through the lens of the objects they brought with them.)

What was the impetus for the GJLA? Randy Ellen Lutterman, JCCA’s VP of Development and Arts and Culture, said, “We learned a lot during the pandemic, including that we are stronger with stories and in partnership.” 

The GJLA’s inaugural event was a fascinating conversation, moderated by Doron Krakow, president and CEO of JCCA, between two accomplished authors—Simon Parkin, who wrote the Wingate Prize–winning The Island of Extraordinary Captives, and Susan Wider, who wrote the National Jewish Book Award-winning biography of artist Charlotte Salomon, It’s My Whole Life

The GJLA’s inaugural event was a fascinating conversation between Parkin and Wider moderated by the CEO of JCCA.

The event explored the theme of Jewish artists in captivity as well as the challenges of writing about them. It was a fine example of what we at CANVAS love to see from Jewish arts and culture organizations—unexpected and enlightening connections between ideas and between people. You can watch it here.

For Jewish writers, the GJLA has posted a list of literary resources, including contests and awards, programs, websites, podcasts, and publications. You can peruse the list here and suggest additions here.

“We want to be a major resource for readers and authors around the globe,” said Evie Saphire-Bernstein, Program Director of the JBC. 

Mekella Broomberg, Head of Arts and Culture Programming for JW3, expressed a similar desire to provide “inspiration for Jewish writers and readers engaging in Jewish culture.”

“Linking up and forming networks feels crucial,” Broomberg continued. “We have an active and culturally vibrant Jewish community in London, but it’s the first time we’re linking up with JCCs and the JBC in North America. The potential is massive.”

Keep an eye on GJLA’s site for upcoming events and to get an idea of the creative connections it’s already providing. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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