Zionism before Zionism? w/ Lipika Pelham

23 May 2022 – 12:00 – 14:00 BST
University of Westminster Graduate School Festival 2022
Fyvie Hall, Ground floor, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW


Join Jerusalem on the Amstel author and journalist Lipika Pelham for a talk about Sephardi Jewish converts in early modern Amsterdam at the University of Westminster’s Graduate School Festival.

Lipika Pelham tells the extraordinary tale of seventeenth century Amsterdam’s “carnival of nations”, among them were Iberian New Christians – former Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, who fled the Inquisition and rediscovered their ancestral faith. Trading, publishing, staging plays and being painted by Rembrandt, the formerly wandering generations settled and enjoyed unparalleled freedom in the post-Reformation Netherlands where Catholics were repressed. Here, they dared to nurture the “Hope of Israel” – in the form of a pamphlet written by a pioneering Rabbi. This pamphlet, printed by the Dutch press and peddled across Eastern Europe, some historians believe inspired the first proto-Zionist thought.

About the author

Lipika Pelham is a historian, journalist, filmmaker and the author of Passing: An Alternative History of Identity (2021), Jerusalem on the Amstel: The Quest for Zion in the Dutch Republic (2019), Conversations Across Place (2021), and The Unlikely Settler (2014). She works as a producer/reporter/regional editor in the BBC World Service newsroom, frequently appearing on TV and radio commenting on South Asian and Arab-Israeli affairs. She also makes long-form documentaries for the BBC, including for the flagship programmes Assignment and Heart & Soul. Lipika reported for the BBC from the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and made several award-winning documentary films, including Deadly Honour, about honour killing in Israel. Her essays and reports have appeared in The New York Times, BBC Online, The Guardian, Daily Beast, Tikkun magazine, Haaretz, The Times of Israel.

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