June/Sivan 2007 Newsletter

Dedicated to creating a supportive environment for English writers in Israel


1. June/ July writing events in Israel
2. My teaching schedule for October-January
3. Your publications
4. The (non)Writing Life

1. June/ July Writing Events in Israel

  • Michael Wiley, author of The Last Striptease (St. Martins/Minotaur) that won the Best First Private Eye Novel Contest in the US, will give a free writing lecture at the Jerusalem Center on Monday, June 18th , 4:30 – 6 PM.
    The subject of the lecture is “Making a Scene in Fiction: Writing as Striptease.”
    Wiley teaches literature and creative writing at North Florida University.
    All are welcome to attend the lecture. RSVP to Jackie Stein, Cultural Programs Specialist, Tel. 02-625 5755 ext.321.
  • A reading from Jane Doe Buys A Challah and Other Stories (AngLit Press) will take place at the Dizengoff branch of Zomet Sfarim, 163 Dizengoff, Tel Aviv, on Tuesday, June 12th at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Visit http://www.ta2009.com for writers’guidelines for AngLit’s next collection.
  • Margalit Jacob will give an introductory workshop on releasing creativity on Friday, June 15th, 9AM-12PM in Jerusalem. Call 02-671 8364 for details.
  • On Monday, July 9th, Leah Kotkes, editor of Binah Magazine, and Risa Miller, author of Welcome to Heavenly Heights (St. Martin’s Press) and teacher of creative writing at Emerson College in Boston will lead a writing session from 8:30AM – 4 PM. NIS 180. Call Michelle Bornstein to register: 02-5869196.

2. My Teaching Schedule

During the coming year, I will teach two classes that will begin during the week of Oct 14th.

A Wednesday afternoon class will be for people who are at the beginning of their writing/publishing careers. We will meet every week in Jerusalem on Wednesdays from 4:45-6:45 PM. (Place to be determined.) We will practice the basic elements of good writing: description, dialogue, voice, narration, transitions, point of view. The goal of the class is to inspire you to write, help you identify genres, teach you how to develop first drafts, discover your strengths, and develop your writing voice. This is not a workshop, but a writing class.
There will be fourteen sessions from Oct. 17 – Jan. 23, 2008. (no session on Dec. 5th, Chanukah).
The cost of the class is NIS 1400, including VAT, payable in four post- dated checks of NIS 350 each.

A morning workshop will convene every other Friday at my home in Moshav Beit Zayit. 10:45 – 12:45. This forum is for people who are self-starters, working on manuscripts, and want feedback from a supportive group. At each session we will workshop 2-4 pieces of writing. The writing must reach all the participants by email a week before the workshop. Writing can be either fiction or nonfiction. Pieces must be no longer than twelve pages, double-spaced. The goal of the workshop is to get serious writers to share their writing with supportive, intelligent readers in order to improve their writing by rewriting. Occasionally, we will do a writing exercise in class, but only when it is related to the piece of writing we are workshopping. There will be eight sessions from Oct. 19th, 2007 through Jan. 25th, 2008. The cost of the workshop is NIS 800, including VAT, payable in four post-dated checks of NIS 200.

For those of you who do not know me, I hold an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College and an MA in fiction from Bar-Ilan University. I have been teaching classes, workshops, and writing retreats for more than ten years. Lately, my writing has appeared or will appear in Southwest Review, Hadassah Magazine, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and Fourth Genre. For more details, visit www.WriteInIsrael.com

In addition to these two frameworks, I also work with writers individually on an hourly basis, including during the summer.

To register, please call me at Tel. 02-570 9744. Leave a message and phone number and I will get back to you.

3. Your Publications

  • Barbara Gingold published “Childless in Israel” in the Spring 2007 issue of Lilith Magazine.
  • Shoshana London Sappir published an Up Front column in the mid-May issue of The Jerusalem Report. The column was based on a longer article about Russian writers in Israel called “The Invisible Literati” that appeared in the April issue of Hadassah Magazine. This article will also appear on the website of the World Jewish Digest in June.
    Shoshanna knows how to recycle articles. Ask her how at slondonsappir@012.net.il
  • Reva Mann is promoting her first book, a memoir called The Rabbi’s Daughter. You can see her video promo at www.therabbisdaughter.co.uk Reva writes a column for The Jewish Advocate, which you can read at www.thejewishadvocate.com Click “This Week’s Issue,” “Editorial & Opinions,” and “Reva.”
  • Faith Under Fire: 33 Days of Missiles and Miracles (Targum Press), a collection of writings about the Second Lebanese War, will appear in Israel in June. The editor is Chana Besser. One of the contributors is Sue (Yaffa) Tourkin-Komet.

4. The (non)Writing Life

In the early 1990’s I stopped writing for three years and was scared I would never write again. At the time, I was learning a new trade – how to guide tourists around 625 acres of biblical landscapes. The tour guides’ course at Neot Kedumim and the subsequent work demanded all my physical and mental energy; I had nothing left for writing.

I remember the time and place I began writing after that hiatus. I was sitting in the back seat of a car on the way to Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival at Kibbutz Ha’on. I wrote a song. During the following week, I wrote another song and then two poems. Then I eased back into prose — an essay about my mother, no doubt. I found it fascinating that the way I got back into writing was the way I had begun writing in the first place: songs, poems, then prose. It reminded me of that difficult phrase from 9th grade biology: ontology recapitulates phylogeny.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of that fallow period in the early 1990’s. Since I began my new job as Coordinator of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University in February, I have not written. My imagination is preoccupied with the Chelm-like procedures of the university bureaucracy.

I am not worried about not writing, though. I know I will write again.

Meanwhile, I send out unpublished essays and stories.

To everything there is a season. Many writers who teach at universities only write during the summer months. The Mormon writer Terry Tempest Williams divides her year into quarters: a season for research, a season for giving to the community, a season for writing, and a season for teaching.

All this is to say that one needn’t write everyday to call oneself a writer.

Of course, I still have doubts, but then a journal arrives in the mail from Texas and on the cover I see my name and next to it, “In Search of Drip,” an essay I slept with for seven years. When I read it, I remember my obsession with drip irrigation, the tour of the Netafim factory at Kibbutz Hatzerim , and the family crisis after my divorce.

That season is gone and recorded.

Now, years later, I have learned to bless both the fallow and the fertile.

Benediction for June:

May the honeysuckle send you reeling.
May the end of the academic year remind you of your accomplishments.
May we all have seasons for sowing, reaping, and giving thanks.
And a quiet summer in the Homeland.

Happy June/Sivan/Tammuz,

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in Newsletter, Not writing, Submissions, The Writing Life, Writing Classes, Writing Schedule and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to June/Sivan 2007 Newsletter

  1. Lilian Cohen says:

    Judy, thank you for for always being so helpful and encouraging. An additional comment – I wish some activities could be organized for people in Haifa and the north.
    All the best, Lilian Cohen


  2. Dear Judy,

    I once again received your newsletter through IAWE, and once again feel grateful to you, no inspired, no encouraged, no really what you do is – remind of my world and my insistence, from time to time, to put it to paper. I read through the whole string of your newsletters, again amazed at how you weave your experiences so openly with those you have created for others.

    I would like to join one of your sessions, that’s my plan. It would be an honor and a challenge to raise my pencil in your presence.

    best regards
    Rochelle Mass

    p.s. I submitted 2 stories to the Tel Aviv anthology.


  3. judyl says:

    Dear Rochelle,
    What a lovely message you sent me. I think blogging might be fun, if I can master it.
    I would be delighted to see you at one of my sessions. Why not come to Neveh Shalom in November?
    Hurray that you submitted two stories to the TA anthology. Persistance is the name of the game, we must continue to tell each other.
    Let me know when and what you hear from them.


  4. judyl says:

    Dear Lilian,
    If I didn’t hate driving in Israel so much, be assured that I would come up to Haifa and teach a class.
    Maybe you can carpool with others from the north and come down to Neveh Shalom in Nov.
    Thanks for visiting the blog. (Whenever I type the word I think of Emily Dickinson’s poem “I’m Nobody.”
    All best,


  5. Bianca Raikhlin says:

    Dear Judy,

    Thank you very much for referring me to Tia. She has been a great help (I hope that this is what you meant).
    How can I contact Lilian in relation to the November retreat?



  6. judyl says:

    Dear Bianca,

    I’m glad Tia was able to help you figure out how to use this blog. Without her, there would be no blog and no blogger. Last night I visited a friend who just celebrated her 80th birthday. Her physicist son gave her a computer, fax/printer, and all the graceful, modern accessories to Skype. I asked her to show me how she does it and she did. I figured if she learned how to Skype at 80, I can learn how to blog in my 60’s. (Re Skype, I will wait for my own children to set me up with elegant, white microphone and tiny camera.) As you know I sent you Lilian’s email. I hope you two Haifa-ites connect and come to the November writing retreat in Neveh Shalom/Wahat al Salam. Almost 20 people have signed up so far, so don’t spend a month obsessing whether or not this retreat is for you. Believe me, you will leave this retreat a changed person, having met kindred souls who want to write, who are looking for venues to write, and friends with whom to share their writing. Especially for those of you in the “periphery” (not that Haifa is periphery, but somehow you and Lilian gave me that feeling), it is important to connect with other writers in Israel. Then you can stay in touch via internet and phone. Also know that every writer, when s/he is alone in her/his room, is in the periphery, that liminal zone where magic can happen.
    Hope to see you in November,


  7. Bianca Raikhlin says:

    Dear Judy,

    I am adding my name to the long list of people who are grateful to you for your encouragement and help.
    Among others, thank you for referring us to Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel lecture published in the December 06-January 07 of the New Yorker. In it there are a few beautiful lines about writers and writing and I am reproducing one of them here:
    “When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end, with this gesture he suggests a single humanity, a world without a center”.
    So if ours is a world without a center, then there is surely no periphery either.

    I intend to deal with the registration to the November retreat tomorrow.
    Shabat Shalom,


  8. Andrew says:

    Your column and website are very pleasant and moving. Don’t assume that only women have repressed urges to write…


  9. judyl says:

    Dear Andrew,
    I mentor men and men attend our writing retreats and I even read books written by men. I wonder what gave you the impression that I assume “only women have repressed urges to write.”


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