Our Team

JOANNE JOWELL, Festival Co-director
With an academic background in English and Psychology (UCT) and a short career in Management Consulting, Joanne Jowell began writing professionally when she published her first book, Managing the Quarterlife Crisis: Facing life’s choices in your 20s and 30s (Struik, 2003). Joanne completed her Masters in Creative Writing at UCT and went on to publish the national bestseller On the other side of shame: An extraordinary account of adoption and reunion (Macmillan, 2008), the book which crafted a biographical storytelling style which Joanne would further explore in Finding Sarah: A true story of living with bulimia. Next, her book The crazy life of Larry Joe: A journey on the streets and stage (Macmillan, 2014) took her deep into the life of a reformed gangster, now musician. Her latest book looks at life change, surrogacy and parenting in Winging it: Jonathan Kaplan’s journey from world-class ref to rookie solo dad (Macmillan, 2018).
Joanne is fascinated by the creative interpretation of ‘truth’ in memoir and sees biography as the perfect blend between her two great loves (besides her 1 husband, 3 children and 3 dogs) – psychology and creative writing.

VIVIENNE ANSTEY, Festival Co-directorViv Anstey
Viv Anstey is the Director of the Midrasha Adult Education Institute incorporating the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and serves on the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies; she is founding member of Limmud South Africa.
Viv Anstey was educated at Herzlia School, UCT (BSoc Sc, Social Work [Hons]), Marriage Guidance & Enrichment Course (UNISA), Course work, MA Social Work (UNISA) and Hornstein Programme in Jewish Communal Service (MA, Brandeis University, USA).
Her previous positions have included:  Social worker, Selwyn Segal Centre, Johannesburg; Social worker, Child Welfare Society, Cape Town; Special Projects, SAJBD, National; Project manager, Heritage Agency; Consultant, Gold of Africa Museum;  Founding Director, South African Jewish Museum.
Viv was community consultant in national office of SAJBOD and assistant to the National Director; was a founding director of MaAfrika Tikkun Johannesburg/National and she facilitated the establishment of Johannesburg Jewish Trauma Debriefing Network; she consulted to SAUJS.
She was a member of Jews for Social Justice and Concerned Social Workers and chaired the Herzlia Constantia security committee.  She is a Trustee of Habonim. Viv consults to Jewish organisations on strategy, innovation, change management and lay-professional relations and is passionate about Jewish education and social justice.

Cindy MoritzCINDY MORITZ, Festival Co-director
Cindy Moritz is a writer and editor who has worked on various magazine titles covering a range of genres including the business of fashion, parenting and women’s lifestyle. She flirted briefly with television production, but spent most of her career in print and then online media. She was educated at Herzlia school and has a B.Journ degree from Rhodes University.
An overwhelming predilection for reading Jewish books and discovering Jewish authors led to a fortuitous meeting of similar minds, resulting in the creation and production of the Jewish Literary Festival.

BERYL EICHENBERBER, MarketingBery Eichenberger
Beryl Eichenberger has lived in Cape Town for nearly four decades  and from 2000 to 2015 carved a niche for herself and her company HIPPO Communications in the competitive Public Relations industry. ‘Semi -retiring’ in 2015 has allowed this energetic ‘seenager’ and self- confessed bookaholic to use her experience in retail, media and PR to pursue the projects she really loves, most of which involve books and literature.

Caryn GootkinCARYN GOOTKINMarketing/Programming
Caryn Gootkin is a freelance columnist and copy editor who’s recently discovered her voice and chutzpah, both useful for drumming up support for causes she’s passionate about. This die-hard supporter of South Africa in general and local literature in particular uses Twitter to listen (even when it hurts) and talk (especially when others don’t). A serial committee member, she serves on the Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council), the Board of Mensch, and is actively involved with Souper Troopers.


JACQUI RODGERS, Head Librarian of the Jacob Gitlin Library
Jacqui Rodgers graduated at UCT with a BA degree and Higher Diploma in Library and Information Science. She assisted the Librarian at Weizmann Primary School and then was appointed Teacher Librarian at Tamboerskloof Primary for 16 years. She is passionate about the importance of reading and her interest lies in children’s literature. She is currently Head Librarian of the Jacob Gitlin Library.



MELISSA FAGAN, Operations Manager
Melissa Fagan is a freelance editor specialising in education and literacy. She cut her teeth in publishing working on the British Airways High Life titles in London and went on to study editing through the London School of Journalism. Prior to her career in publishing, she graduated from the Wits School of Dramatic Art and worked in theatre and television production as well as in the education space. Melissa is passionate about childhood literacy and is the author of three children’s books, written for literacy NPO, Book Dash.

VANESSA VALKIN, Programming and Fundraising
Vanessa Valkin has been a journalist and editor for over 20 years. Most recently, she served as the Editor of the national, Jewish weekly newspaper, the South African Jewish Report She has worked as a journalist for the British Financial Times in the New York bureau and as the editor of a philanthropy magazine in Toronto. She has an honours degree in clinical psychology from Wits and a MA in Journalism from Northwestern University in Chicago.
With a love of reading and writing and a boldness for asking people for fundraising money, she was thrilled to get involved with the Jewish Literary Festival.