January 2008 Newsletter

Dedicated to creating a supportive environment for English writers in Israel


  1. Shards
  2. Your Publications
  3. The Writing Life

1. Shards

  • The IAWE (Israel Association of Writers in English) is sponsoring two events to promote the publication of Arc 19 Writing and Other Arts, edited by Jeffrey Green and Mordechai Beck. The first is on Jan. 22, 7:30 pm at Tmol Shilshom, 5 Yoel Solomon St., Jerusalem. The second is on Feb. 24, 4 pm at Tel Aviv University (Room 001, Webb Bldg.) At both events some of the authors published in Arc 19 will read their work.
  • If you want to hone your creative writing skills in fiction or poetry, now is the time to apply to The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. Students from around the world devote two years to their craft, earning an MA from the Dept. of English upon completion of a thesis. Excellent instructors, dedicated mentors, supportive environment. Summer semester begins six weeks before the chagim: Mondays and Thursday, noon–5. During fall and spring semesters, minimum one day a week (Tuesdays, noon–5:30) for first year. For full details and on-line application, go to www.biu.ac.il/HU/en/cw
  • Joan Leegant, author of An Hour In Paradise, gave me this wonderful link and I am passing it on to you. If you like it, send it to a writer friend: The New York Times Writers on Writing Archive at www.nytimes.com/books/specials/writers.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
  • For a lively web site on interior design, check out www.tchochkes.com. I love the energy on this site, the dynamic relationship between visuals and writing.
  • If you read/write short stories or short shorts, visit issue three of Tania Hershman’s web site www.theshortreview.com. Tania lives and writes in Jerusalem.
  • Until Feb.1, Arc 20 is accepting submissions on the theme of identities, “the multiple identities and languages we posses and are possessed by.” You do not have to be a member of IAWE to submit writing. For details, contact editor Ed Codish at ecodish@gmail.com.
  • Want to write in South Africa this June? Check out www.capewrite.com. Dr. Irvine Eidelman, co-director with novelist Jenefer Shute, used to live in Israel. Rates range from $1,000-1,700 for a one-week retreat. All prices are in Rands, so know that R7.00 = $1.00 US.
  • Remember Gabi Lev from the Maaleh Hachamisha workshop? Her incredible play (in Hebrew) about her survivor parents, Shulem, will be presented on January 27th at 9 pm at the Givatayim Theatre, David Remez St. 40 (Tel. 03-7325340) and on January 28th at 9 pm at the Maabada in Jerusalem, Derech Hebron 28 (Tel.02-6244584). For details and reviews of Shulem go to www.tcj.org.il/shulem (Hebrew).
  • Evan Fallenberg (www.evanfallenberg.com) is traveling around the US, reading excerpts from his beautiful book Light Fell. You can buy Light Fell at any Tzomet Sefarim outlet. Evan will again teach fiction in the Bar-Ilan writing program during the summer semester of 2008.
  • In Jerusalem Hilary Milgrom, MSW, leads groups for women in midlife. One of the topics discussed is connecting with one’s inner wisdom and creativity. Tel. 02-673486
  • Shifrah Devorah Witt, MFA, teaches creative writing workshops in Jerusalem. Tel. 0548018483 for details.

2. Your publications

  • Jessica Apple’s wonderful essay about her grandmother appeared on nextbook.org. Hopefully, this link still works; if not, search for it on nextbook.org. Jessica is a student in Bar-Ilan’s Program.
  • Gila Green, a graduate of Bar-Ilan’s Program, had a story accepted to Quality Women’s Fiction for the January 2008 issue. Her story is “The Wedding Day.”
  • Faigie Heiman, a graduate of my writing workshop, published “Zaida’s Spirit: A Tribute” in the Dec. 12, 2007 issue of The Jewish Press. The essay is in tribute to Reb Menashe Gross z”l.
  • I am sure you Anglo-Israelis have published more in the last month, but you did not tell me about it. Help me spread the word about where you are publishing your stories, essays and poems. Believe me, this inspires others to write and to send out their work.

3. The Writing Life

What writing life? Who has time or energy to write with going to doctors, doing blood tests, waiting for the latest virus to leave your bed, feeling like a bear in hibernation? I’ve taken to reading instead of writing and am having a wonderful time. A little Grace Paley to prepare me for old age. A little Babel to prepare me for the next war. A little Kafka to get me in the mood for dying.

In winters like these, I wish I had practised piano when I was thirteen or learned to quilt from my grandmother. Even baking would be a nice pastime, but all I know how to do is write, so when I don’t do it I feel fairly worthless.

I put in that “fairly” just to lighten the blow. The truth is, I feel totally worthless. I try to convince myself that I am a passable grandmother, a decent mother, not a bad partner, and I do my day job well. But the one talent that God gave me, writing, I neglect so easily and pray He won’t see me hiding under my pillow, chasing the last dream in which my mother was lost. If a whale would come through the dry valley below my house, I’d hide in its belly.

Just last month I was writing furiously every morning (almost) from 5–7, but how long can a girl with low iron keep up that pace before all the winter viruses in the neighborhood start talking? Word spreads and whammo, they’re all here, clamoring to get into the body with the impaired immune system.

Once I found out I wasn’t dying from an undiagnosed cancer and only suffering from winter virus, as my French homeopathic pharmacist naturopath food coach emailed me (who has energy to go see him in vibrant Tel Aviv?), I felt better.

In spring and summer there will be movies, concerts, and plays that begin at 9 pm. Hopefully, I will go to one or two.

I think of Terry Tempest Williams, the Mormon nature writer, who once said at a writers’ conference that she is a seasonal writer. This is comforting news that I quote often from Nov. 1–March 31.

Winter is for reading, cholent, pillows and poochs (Hebrew for “comforters”).
Let the men throw off the covers and open the windows, while we women bury ourselves in a warm bed.

Hope you are all feeling well and that the 120 homeopathic drops I take every day, along with the B-12, the iron, the ½ tsp. of vile magic potion diluted in water, the 2000 mg of Vit. C, etc etc will make me so strong that next month’s newsletter will be twice as long.

Warmly (yes, I’ve taken to sleeping with wool leg warmers and a fleece hat),

About Judy Labensohn

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

2 Responses to January 2008 Newsletter

  1. Judith says:

    Judy–your newsletter was wonderful!! Thanks for the laughs –it is great to know that “ah, I’m not the only one” in so many aspects. Hibernate away!
    love Judith


  2. Basil Porter says:

    Its all developmental, dear. My guru teacher Dr Berry Brazelton taught me how there were times to try and teach mothers, and there were timew they were too wiped out to absorb anything. I know through playing chamber music through the years that there are periods when the music flows, and others when it,well, sucks. You are simply learning to move with the flow, which is really true for most things in our lives.


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