Would you like to arrange a talk?

Jonathan Bergwerk gives talks and seminars either as one-off events or as part of a series of talks.  He is an experienced and engaging speaker to large audiences and facilitator of small groups.

You can choose the characters for the talks and the length of the talk can vary from 45 to 90 minutes.  Many of the talks come with optional, attractive audio or visual presentations. 

Each session stands on its own and participants do not need any prior knowledge.  They will get comprehensive notes plus a lively debate in a friendly atmosphere.

For the seminar sessions, many of the characters lend themselves to debate and discussion.  The lives can be used as an entry point into many ethical and religious questions.  Some are accompanied by text study.

The list of people, Jonathan has given talks on is shown below. 

To make an enquiry please email at info@audaciousjews.com

God
How different ways Jews have thought of God through history.

Jacob

The most successful Biblical patriarch, despite his family problems.  He lived a life of crime and punishment.


Judah

Son of Jacob, brother of Joseph, the brave and inspirational man who put the ‘Ju’ in ‘Judaism’.


Naomi

The heroine of the Book of Ruth and a role model of female fidelity and lovingkindness.


Moses

The leader of the Biblical Israelites and the most important character in Judaism.


King David

The third monarch of the united kingdom of Judah and Israel.  A memorable warrior, leader, sinner, and lover.


King Solomon

The fourth monarch of the united kingdom of Judah and Israel and son of David.  The leader in its golden age, and builder of the Temple, renowned for wisdom and justice.  A ruthless womaniser. 


Jonah
The reluctant Biblical prophet who had more sympathy for a plant than for people. What is the meaning of the story? Why its not just about redemption.
Queen EstherThe beautiful Jewish queen of King Ahasuerus, who heroically saved the Jews of Persia. Is she a feminist icon? What is her story really all about?
Hillel
A first century Rabbi, who became the greatest sage of the second Temple era and one of the biggest influences on Rabbinic Judaism.

Jesus of Nazareth

First century preacher, religious leader and the founder of a new movement within Judaism. Was he a rabbi, revolutionary or Messiah?

4 BCE-30

Paul of Tarsus
The obsessive Jew who did more than anyone else to create Christianity.
8-63

Akiva ben Yosef

The leading 1st century Rabbi, revolutionary and martyr whose values and ideas on practice were a critical influence on how Judaism developed and how it is practised today. 

50-135

Titus Flavius Josephus
The 1st century priest, politician, soldier and writer who deserted the Jewish cause, rejected its leaders as Zealots and became the first Jewish historian. Was he a traitor to the Jewish cause or a hero of moderation?37-100

Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi)

Medieval French commentator; the most influential Jewish author in the last 2000 years.

1041-1105

Abraham Ibn Ezra

Radical writer and thinker of the Middle Ages.

1089-1167

Maimonides (Rambam)

The most important medieval Jewish scholar who radically changed Judaism.

1135-1204

Nahmanides (Ramban)

The medieval scholar who was the Jewish defendant in the disputation of Barcelona and a leading figure in the re-establishment of the Jewish community in Jerusalem.

1194-1270

Gracia Mendes Nasi

Medieval businesswoman and philanthropist, the outstanding Jewess of her day.

1510-1569

Shylock
The fictional antagonist in Shakespeare's comedy, The Merchant of Venice, who became a byword for anti-Semitism. Was that what Shakespeare intended? How should we understand the play today?

Baruch Spinoza

Radical 17th century thinker.

1632-1677

Glückel of Hameln

A highly successful businesswoman and skilled diarist. A great storyteller and a devoted wife and parent. Was she the 'Woman of Character' of Proverbs 31? 1646-1724

Moses Mendelssohn

18th century German philosopher and instigator of Jewish enlightenment. The first modern Jew.

1729-1786

The Rothschild Family

19th century bankers and philanthropists; the richest and most influential Jewish dynasty. What made them so successful?

1744-1868

Moses Montefiore

The legendary British Jew of the 19th century who liberated countless Jews from oppression.

1784-1885

Benjamin Disraeli

19th century British Prime Minister, who despite converting who was still the most important British Jew of his time. What makes people Jewish?  Is Judaism a religion, a race or something else?

1804-1881

Karl Marx

Revolutionary 19th century economist and socialist. The most controversial Jew of modern times. How Jewish is his work?

1818-1883

Solomon Schechter
The greatest scholar, teacher and leader of his generation within English-speaking Jewry, the creator of 20th century American Conservative Judaism and the dynamic force behind the recognition of the importance of the Genizah collection.1850-1915

Sigmund Freud

The founder of psychoanalysis. How does psychology permeate Judaism and the Bible?

1856-1939

Louis Brandeis
“The People’s Attorney” who defended civil liberties, and fought big business. The first Jewish justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. A key Zionist leader. What are the legal limits on free speech – and do you agree with them? 1856-1941

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

One of the first Zionist leaders and the idealistic driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language.

1858-1922

Claude Montefiore
A founder of Liberal Judaism, scholar of Christianity and opponent of Zionism.
1858-1938

Henrietta Szold

The American founder of Hadassah and a leading force in social and child welfare.

1860-1945

Theodor Herzl

The journalist, writer and inspiration of modern political Zionism: "If you will it, it is no dream."

1860-1904

Abraham Isaac KookThe first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine. A visionary writer, original thinker, mystical tzaddik and messianic Zionist, who provided a way for ultra-traditional Jews to engage with modernity.1865-1935

Leo Baeck

Leader of German Jewry in the 1930s.

1873-1956

Harry Houdini
The world-famous illusionist, stunt performer and showman. He overcame poverty, bigotry and self-doubt to live the American dream. But how did he really do his illusions?1874-1926

Chaim Weizmann

Zionist, chemist and the first President of Israel. How and why was the Balfour Declaration signed?

1874-1952

Martin Buber

20th century philosopher, Zionist and creator of the ‘I-Thou’ idea.

1878-1965

Leon Trotsky

Marxist leader, revolutionary and writer.

1879-1940

Albert Einstein

Brilliant physicist, an avowed pacifist and Zionist.

1879-1955

Mordecai Kaplan
An American rabbi, intellectual, writer, orator, educator and co-founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. One of the most important Jewish thinkers of the 20th century.1881-1983

Franz Kafka

A literary genius, giant of 20th century literature, and prophet of the horrors and angst of totalitarianism.

1883-1924

David Ben-GurionFirst Prime Minister of Israel.1886-1973

Marc Chagall

The most famous Jewish artist of the 20th century who created his own style of modern art, based on Jewish Eastern European folk culture. A visual extravaganza.

1887-1985

Irving Berlin
The greatest American songwriter.  A classic rags-to-riches story of a Jewish immigrant to America from Russia who made good. A musical extravaganza.1888-1989

Groucho Marx

The American comedian, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. One of the Marx Brothers. 

1890-1977

Jack L. Warner
The driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios - the most radical in Hollywood. The instigator of the biggest family row in Hollywood. They made the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, about whether to be American or Jewish. 1892-1978
George Gershwin
The American composer and pianist who wrote Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess, Swanee, and hundreds of songs for musicals with his brother Ira.
1898-1937

Golda Meir

Pivotal to the founding of Israel and its fourth Prime Minister. She was said to be both "the best man in the government" and at fault in the Yom Kippur war. What is the real truth about her?

1898-1978

Richard Rodgers
One of the most significant popular American composers of the 20th century, writing first with Lorenz Hart and then with Oscar Hammerstein. A musical feast.1902-1979
Isaac Bashevis SingerThe prolific Polish-American novelist, critic and journalist, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote in Yiddish about the lives and culture of East European Judaism. How real were his descriptions of shtetl life?1902-1991

Lillian Hellman

A modern American dramatist, screenwriter, socialite and communist, a leading defendant against McCarthyism.

1905-1984

Abraham Joshua Heschel

20th century rabbi and a model for compassionate social action.

1907-1972

Abraham Maslow
A visionary American psychologist, best known for creating his hierarchy of needs, a widely used theory of psychological motivation. Is it possible to be ‘self-actualized’ within Judaism?1908-1970

Isaiah Berlin

The liberal philosopher and one of the finest minds of the 20th century.  How should people live a moral life in a time of uncertainty?

1909-1997

Abba Eban
A South-African born, British scholar,  Israeli diplomat and politician who became one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century.
1915-2002

Leonard Bernstein

The American composer, conductor and pianist.  A maestro of both classical music and popular musicals and the composer of West Side Story.

1918-1990

Primo Levi

An Italian survivor from Auschwitz and one of the first to write about his experiences.

1919-1987

Louis Jacobs

British Jewry’s most prolific and controversial rabbi and its only world class scholar. What really went on in the Jacobs' affair?

1920-2006

Rosalind FranklinAn English chemist, whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA;. Was she airbrushed out of history because she was a woman?