A Digital Jerusalem International Book Forum Opens for 2021 Registration

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The Jerusalem International Book Forum has announced digital programming for May, with an eye to a physical event and editorial fellowship in 2022.

A break between sessions in the 2019 Jerusalem International Book Forum program. Image: Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘This Challenging Moment in History’
A kind of once-and-future program, the Jerusalem International Book Forum in its reconstituted form that evolved it from the Jerusalem International Book Fair, had only its debut run in the spring of 2019 with, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, a phalanx of top world publishing leadership figures, a Jerusalem Prize kickoff for Joyce Carol Oates, and a blue-ribbon audience of thought leaders in the house.

Rather than being able to hold its second outing this spring as was then anticipated, the program today (March 1) has announced its initial plans for a digital presence in May and a return to its full physical setting in 2022.

Registration is available here for the coming digital iteration. Programming dates are currently set for May 3, 4, 14, and 21.

Director Yoel Makov, production coordinator Sharon Katz, content manager Hadar Makov-Hasson, and the team in 2019 staged a head-turning series of conversations and discussions and hosted another round of the Zev Birger Editorial Fellowship program, with its chief advocate Esther Margolis on-hand for that parallel programming.

This time, says Makov-Hasson, “The program will provide an overview of the international publishing industry’s place in this challenging moment in history, and examine the resourceful adaptations displayed by publishing professionals worldwide to focus on lessons learned for the future of the business.”

Programming details will be forthcoming.

Makov: ‘An Optimistic but Responsible Approach’

Audience members at the 2019 Jerusalem International Book Forum program. Image: Porter Anderson

For a time, it looked as if the forum’s intentional biennial rhythm would work out perfectly, making its next iteration possible this spring.

But although Israel’s rollout of coronavirus COVID-19 vaccinations has become a model—with more than 90 percent of the country’s people older than 50 already fully inoculated, according to a Washington Post report by Steve Hendrix, Shira Rubin, and Karin Brulliard—the timing hasn’t worked out as hoped.

“We look forward to seeing all of our friends and fellows digitally this May, and to greet them again in Jerusalem in 2022.”Yoel Makov, Jerusalem International Book Forum

As the Post’s report has it, “The country’s rate of infection remains stubbornly high, apparently driven by the arrival of variant strains and the failure of some communities to comply with coronavirus restrictions.” And government regulations in place for the moment have limited inbound travel to people granted permission by a national exceptions committee. Travelers arriving are required to obey 14-day quarantine requirements in state-designated motels.

“Working under the current health restrictions,” says the forum’s Makov, “we have tried to maintain an optimistic but responsible approach. The JIBF is part of a community which is heavily affected by the pandemic, and so we had to adapt our program to the current reality.

Yoel Makov

“We look forward to seeing all of our friends and fellows digitally this May, and to greet them again in Jerusalem in 2022.”

The Zev Birger Fellowship program, sponsored by the George von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group since its inception in 1985, will continue to coincide with the physical format of the forum in 2022. At that time, organizers say, the Birger alumni will continue to return to Jerusalem with the support of the Penguin Random House Group.

The selection process for the next group of fellows is being postponed until later this year. A second application period will be announced, and we’ll carry that information when it’s available.

Applicants who had already submitted their applications for the Birger Fellowship before the newly announced plans were in place will still be considered for the 2022 program.

The Coronavirus in Israel

At this writing, the 7:22 p.m. ET (0022 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees a total 779,958 cases so far in Israel’s population of 9.1 million during the pandemic, with 5,760 fatalities.

In an evening update, Haaretz is reporting that the Israeli cabinet has authorized a third phase of the country’s reopening, which should mean more middle-school classrooms available by Sunday. This phase of reopening is to allow cafés and small restaurants to operate without a vaccination certificate requirement.

“In contrast,” the report reads, “hotels, event halls, and other venues will only be open to those who can present their vaccination certificates.”

Rossella Tercatin at the  Jerusalem Post reports, “General gatherings will be permitted up to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.”

“Some 3.3 million Israelis,” the article says, “have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and an additional 1.4 million got the first jab.”

Evening at the forum venue, the Jerusalem YMCA, 2019. Image: Porter Anderson


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Jerusalem International Book Forum is here

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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