September/Tishrei 2007 Newsletter

Dedicated to creating a supportive environment for English writers in Israel


  1. My Fall Classes and Nov. Writing Retreat (with Evan)
  2. Your Publications
  3. Our Shards
  4. The Writing Life

1. My Fall Classes and November Writing Retreat

  • Wednesdays, 4:30 – 6:30 Beginning to Write
    From October 24th I will conduct a creative writing class for beginning writers. We will meet for twelve sessions at my home in Moshav Beit Zayit, ten minutes west of Jerusalem. I will focus on process and craft, as opposed to workshopping original work. The goal of the class is to get you writing, to help you discover your voice and subject matter, and to learn how to learn from published stories and essays.
    The cost is NIS 1200, payable in four installments.
    To register, email
  • Every other Friday, 10:45 – 12:45 Writing Workshop
    This class, from Oct. 26th, provides a framework for writers doing rewrites of chapters, stories, essays or pieces in search of a genre. If you know how to take intelligent, constructive criticism, this group is for you. We will meet at my home in Moshav Beit Zayit, ten minutes west of Jerusaelm.
    The cost is NIS 700 for seven sessions through Jan. 18th.
    To register, email
  • “Talk to Me,” a writing retreat on dialogue with Evan Fallenberg and Judy Labensohn.
    Nov. 14-16, 2007 at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. There are still a few places available. For complete details and registration, see the Talk To Me Dialogue Retreat Registration Form.

I will be in the United States until Oct. 15th, but I have daily access to email.

2. Your Publications

When Anglo writers in Israel read about your publication successes, they become inspired to submit their own writing for publication. Please continue to send me your good news so I can spread the word. In this way we can create a community of Anglo writers in Israel.

  • Gila (Green) Tal’s story “Half Sisters” was accepted for publication by Pilot Pocket Books, Toronto. Gila, originally from Ottawa, is a graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. The pocket book is due out in November.
  • Sarah Kreimer, who has participated in my Jerusalem writing workshop for three years, has landed a New York agent for her memoir, Vision and Division in Israel: My Journey along the Seam. I look forward to being able to tell you when Sarah’s agent sells the book to a publisher.
  • Prof. Ada Aharoni has two poems published in Peace, Justice, and Jews, July 2007. The editors are Murray Polner and Stefan Merken. A second edition of her poetry book You and I is available via
  • Rachel Gurevich of Beit Shemesh is a winner. Her poem “I Know Kindness” won 1st place in the annual anniversary poetry contest. Her short story “One More Day, One More Chance,” won an honorable mention in WritersWeekly’s 24-hour short story contest. Rachel also had an essay published under a pseudonym at
  • Ruth Mason continues her monthly column in “In Jerusalem,” called “Life in the 50’s.” For back columns, email Ruth at
  • Jeffrey Green’s story “In Vincoli” appeared on the online Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture in the July 2007 issue.
  • Reva Mann, whom I mentored during the first year of her writing what became The Rabbi’s Daughter: A True Story of Sex, Drugs, and Orthodoxy, has been enjoying fame in Great Britain. Articles about Reva and her book, published by Hodder and Stoughton, have appeared in all major magazines and newspapers in England. On July 29th her photo appeared on the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine, followed by a 6-page spread. In October, the book will be released by Random House in the US. Currently, Reva is at work on her second book.

3. Our Shards

  • In August, Judith ben Susan from Mevasseret Zion participated in a writing course at Lumb Bank, Yorkshire sponsored by the famed Arvon Foundation in England. Her review is mixed: “The experience was a memorable one and I enjoyed it very much although I was dissatisfied with the level of the tutors and I was not alone in that… Perhaps I will give it another go next year. I did not do much writing, I have to say. I feel that the course was not the right one for me. But on re-reading the blurb, I could certainly understand why I thought it was suitable…. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and meeting the wonderful talented people.”
  • Chana Coggan in Maaleh Adumim told me about these fabulous web sites: — a literary magazine written by women over 60, and
  • Call for submissions:
    • Ezrat Avot is seeking articles (250-800 words), poetry and photographs for a new English-language monthly e-magazine, “Israel Senior Life.” Visit for details.
    • Babel, an online journal promoting freedom of speech, seeks poems, stories, and essays on identity and culture. Visit for details and click the links under “babel” on the right.
    • Talia in Jerusalem is looking for one-page plays about Judaism or Israel for the One-Page Play Festival during Channukah. Email:
  • The Faculty of Management at Tel Aviv University is looking for an instructor for an English-language undergraduate course on Business Communications. Among topics typically covered in such a course: Preparing resumes, interviewing, writing business letters, making effective presentations. Contact person: Prof. Simon Benninga,

4. The Writing Life

Often our craft and our imagination are out of sync. I may have a wonderful story to tell, but have not yet developed the skills with which to tell it. Conversely, I may have skills, but lack the emotional maturity, depth and range to utilize the story to its fullest. So many elements must fall in place at the same time for a piece of writing to succeed on all levels. No wonder Bobbie Ann Mason suggests waiting twenty years before sending out our work.

Nonetheless, we do send out our poems, stories and essays because the goal of writing is to communicate. A nice thing happened to me last month. It’s called “the best case scenario for an emerging writer,” which I still am. (The cocoon, from which I emerge, you understand, is made of steel, so emerging is a difficult, painful process.) This is the nice thing: I received an email from an agent who had read my essay in The Southwest Review. He liked it and wanted to see more of my writing. The agent and I have exchanged emails and one day I may meet him. He may or may not represent me, but just receiving his email of encouragement helped me break through another inch of the steel cocoon. The email also vindicated my attempts to publish in high-quality literary magazines. Agents scout these journals. Don’t keep your writing in your drawers, closet, or computer. Put it into the world (she wrote, as a way to nudge herself.)

I am writing this newsletter from a hotel room in Pittsburgh and a family room in Cleveland. During my travels, I have met the editors of Creative Nonfiction and the Michigan Quarterly Review, journals that have published my work. I wanted to say Thank you to these two gentlemen who taught me that literary essays from Israel can enjoy a wider readership than we might suspect.

I send you greetings from the land of colored leaves and autumn scents that penetrate the emigrant soul.

Shana tova. May your blessings be as varied and abundant as the colors on the trees in northeastern Ohio.


About Judy Labensohn

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

1 Response to September/Tishrei 2007 Newsletter

  1. CatherineL says:

    Hi Judy – could I be cheeky and ask which tutors you had on the Arvon Course.

    I went on one four years ago and the tutors weren’t good – in fact one did a disappearing act halfway through the week. And I’d really like to do another, but want to make sure I get the right tutors this time.

    Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.


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