Adar 2007 Newsletter


  1. New Hat and Required Reading
  2. New Event
  3. Publication News
  4. Apology
  5. Tips and Tidbits. Nu?
  6. My Renewed Writing Life

Dear Friends,

1. New Hat and Required Reading

I have a new hat this Purim. It crowns me the Coordinator of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University. Shaindy, founding director of the creative writing program, died too young last year. She left a vision of a vibrant Jewish writing center in Israel, a vision I look forward to furthering.

The Program enables Anglo-Israeli writers, as well as students from abroad, to earn an MA in English with a creative thesis in either fiction or poetry. Applications are now being accepted for the 2007-08 academic year, which begins in mid-August. You can access an application online at

Please tell your nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and all your cousins around the world about the program.
(Know that the web site is being renewed.)

Required Reading: If you want to get accepted to any competitive writing program or publish anywhere, I suggest you read an article by Diana Hume George on copyediting. You can find it at

2. New Event (preceded by reports of the Old Events)

  • Nine fearless writers met at Kibbutz Tzuba on Jan. 28th to write about their bodies. During the break, we did the Hokey Pokey, which revved up the writing juices.
  • For the first time in her life, Sarita Perel has begun to write about her 50-year “relationship” with arthritis.
  • A small group of motivated writers met at my home in Beit Zayit on Feb. 11th to workshop their personal essays. This was an amazing day of fierce learning and sensitive, writerly intimacy.
  • My March class at Beit Berl College still has room for a few more students. It begins this Friday, March 2nd. If you are stuck and not writing, come. Email:
  • New Event: On Friday, April 27th, I will lead a Hike ‘n Write at Neot Kedumim. (8:30 – 1 p.m.) This is a rare opportunity to combine your love of walking in biblical landscapes with your love of writing. Details in the next newsletter, but do save the date.

3. Publication News

  • Eva Eliav’s story, “In a Roman Pension,” was published in the winter issue of Quality Women’s Fiction, a bi-annual American magazine by and about women.
  • Gila Tal-Green who graduated from the Bar Ilan Creative Writing Program in 2006, had a short story, “Brass Knuckles,” accepted for the March, 2007 issue of Fiction Magazine. The story is from her thesis collection called White Zion. The title story from White Zion will appear in Saranac Review in August, 2007. Gila just gave birth to her fifth child on Feb. 23rd.
  • Devorah (Debbie) Shinan, published “Kosher Under Katyushas” in the Winter, 2007 online edition of The Kosher Spirit.

Keep sending me those publication acceptances. Mazal tov to all.

4. New Apology

Evan Fallenberg and I had hoped to inspire you with another writing retreat in May, but we have decided to put it off for the time being. We offer you, our former and future participants, sincere apologies for disappointing you this spring.

5. Tips and Tidbits. Nu?

  • If you have an idea for an article for the Jerusalem Post Metro section, contact Editor Daniel Ben-Tal at He is always looking for good writers with creative ideas.
  • If you plan to be in New England in July, stop in at the New York State Summer Writers Institute, July 3-28, held at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. You can enroll for either a 2 or 4 week session. If you have only a night in the area, there are free, public readings. See
  • If you are going to Old England this summer, plan on a week’s writing retreat at the Arvon Foundation for Writing. Visit
  • If you want to receive more writing newsletters, try and
  • If you are in Jerusalem on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, don’t miss The Writer’s Journey Seminar, organized by Leah Kotkes. For details and registration, email
  • asked some of America’s top literary critics to forecast the next string of Jewish-American classics. High on the list is Kagan’s Superfecta and Other Stories. Author Allen Hoffman is the writer-in-residence at the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan.

6. My Renewed Writing Life

Perhaps, like me, you went through four packs of tissues in February, blowing your nose, coughing, blowing more, while all the time thinking you were dying. When the flu hits, it depresses the body and then the soul. I was sure my weakness was due to some other silent, insidious visitor, like mono or blood cancer. I had gotten a flu shot, after all, exercised daily (well, almost daily), ate organic, brown rice. But whatever hit me in Feb. paid no heed to my efforts to be healthy. Even walking to the computer, let alone writing, was a challenge.

As the days passed and no thoughts entered my head other than how to empty my overflowing waste baskets, I feared never writing again. I imagined being struck by something worse than mono or cancer: Old Age. All this tiredness, it reminded me of my grandmother, who rarely moved from her chair by the window. I was becoming a prone version of her. When I did sit up, I began to knit, a sure sign of Old Age.

Salvation came in the form of Vitamin C – 2,000 mg. a day (1,000 with breakfast and 1,000 with lunch). Within the week, I was walking next to the cesspool in the Motza Valley, so big we call it a lake, and smelling the almond blossoms to counter the stench of sewage. Each day I walked a little more. Bedtime advanced from 7 PM to 10:30. I was getting healthy.

One morning I awoke with an idea for an essay. Ahhh, the blood was again flowing to the muscle in my brain that controls imagination. Once again, as in days of old, I awoke at 4 a.m. and wrote in my mind, that glorious mental exercise which precedes all my written activity. To transcribe that perfect essay, though, onto the computer screen, felt like too big an effort. I would have to wait until all my strength returned.

It’s returning slowly, just as yours is too, if you were struck with the flu this month. I can envision a new writing life and I hope you can too. The gift does not desert us so easily, especially if we make room for it. Now that my waste baskets are emptied of tissues, there is space for first drafts.

May March be a month of blessings for us all, a month of health and blooming. May all our transformations during Adar be for the good.

Warm regards,


About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in Newsletter, Publication News, The Writing Life, Writing Classes, Writing Resources, Writing Retreats. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Adar 2007 Newsletter

  1. Leon Moss says:

    Congratulations on your new hat. May you wear it with great success and pride!
    Leon Moss


  2. judyl says:

    Thanks for your good wishes. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Learning the new technology is as hard as learning to ride a bike. I need training wheels and two parents, none of which I have.
    All best,


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