PEOPLE WHO USUALLY DON’T LECTURE
NOT FOR PROFIT
This event was made possible through the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation’s Grassroots Events program, was sponsored by the Jewish News and was run in partnership with JW3.
What is PWUDL?
In 2019 Piece of Cake partnered with Stephen Shashoua to produce the first of what we hope are many PWUDL events. PWUDL is People Who Usually Don’t Lecture. This global initiative launched in London at JW3.
For a storytelling people, there are plenty of Jews who have never had the chance to tell their own stories to an audience bigger than guests at the Friday night dinner table.
Reasons for this are myriad – it may be someone has a disability people do not understand, or that they play a communal role people don’t get, or that they had a life experience they have not been ready to tell. These are the people that we recruited for our event.
The educational event format has been created by Israeli social impact organisation, ZE.ZE, and gathers people who live in the same city to get to know each other “behind the labels”.
With initial seed funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the project allowed us to train people in the British Jewish community who do not usually have the opportunity to tell their complex and inspiring stories to an audience.
The format, which has been rolled out in Israel and the United States, is for between six and eight speakers to appear on stage for about eight minutes each.
“Our community has had a challenging time of late. While we have always had religious and ethnic difference, political differences have come further to the fore and exposed the divisions among British Jews. The PWUDL format is a perfect one to introduce to the UK, as we hope it will help foster a new way of listening and speaking with each other.”
JULIET SIMMONS & STEPHEN SHASHOUA
OUR EVENT – SHARING THE STORIES
Our event took place in the Autumn of 2019 at JW3 in London. Six individuals shared their stories. We filmed the stories and have shared them here:
Forensic psychologist Lindy, who could only be identified by her first name, serves on the Parole Board, a body that determines whether prisoners can be safely released into the community. While previously working in the prison service, part of her job involved persuading extremist offenders to engage with a small team of psychologists.
Father-of-two Richard Pollins, 41, from North Finchley, was born without legs. He detailed the perils of negotiating escalators or climbing up stairs on artificial legs and the challenges of balancing fatherhood with his disability.
With the birth of his first child, Joseph, six years ago, the ITV News journalist was faced with a fresh set of challenges, he said, including learning how to lift a toddler in and out of a cot or crossing a road.
“Fast forward to now and I’ve got two children,” he said. “Maggie is our youngest. She’s now three, and sometimes we’re out and about, just the two of us, and we come to roads,” he said. “I use a combination of paranoia and sports commentary.”
Most of all, Pollins said he hopes to teach his children that “it’s okay to be different”, that “nobody can do everything” and finally that “when it really matters, you can make it work”.
The violinist Harry Lyons discussed the personal impact of a horrific car accident that cost him part of his eyesight and the ability to hear for more than 10 years. “Driving my car along Eversholt Street, the sun was shining. I was happy as a tomboy,” he told the event.
“I looked to my right, a car came through the red lights, hit me once, bounced off, hit me twice, bounced off, and hit me the third time and went through me.” The 93-year-old from Golders Green was the last musical director to have worked for Moss Empires circuit and has performed around the world, including for members of the royal family.
Later, Lyons recovered his ability to hear after undergoing an operation in Liverpool. “I was three and a half hours on the table. I had to be awake. When he finished, I could hear a pin drop,” he told a rapt audience.
Jewish-Iraqi Niran Bassoon-Timan, from Edgware, described her life’s journey from Baghdad to Israel in 1973, and later to the UK in 1987.
“By the time I reached the age of 11, it was no longer safe for Jews to live in Iraq, and my parents started looking for a way out,” she said. “On the plane, I decided to close this chapter in my life called Iraq.”
She became involved in non-political bridge building between Iraqi and Israeli communities, starting a YouTube channel. “I wanted to inform people about the important part of what Jews did to establish modern Iraq. I tell them about the 2,600-year history of Jews in Iraq,” she added.
Shai Grosskopf, from Barnet detailed his own experience of coming out as gay to his parents and later, on the advice of his father, of adopting two daughters in Yorkshire with his partner of 27 years.
“Here we are, two gay Israeli guys adopting a Yorkshire lass. Unfortunately, my dad passed away a month before she came. But I managed to show him a picture of her and to promise him that we will name her after his mum.”
Adam Overlander Kaye
Adam Overlander-Kaye, from Finchley, who spent a decade in Jewish education described his relationship with religion and how it has changed.
“What is the purpose of this story? Maybe it’s recognising that you don’t have to fit into a religious box,” he said.
“Even so, boxes come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe to acknowledge that some of us are on a journey, that Jewish life can be confusing but that sometimes confused is a good place to be,” he added.