March 2008 Newsletter

creating community for English writers in Israel


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

1. Shards

  • Check out a wonderful new blog from my old neighborhood: “South Jerusalem: A Progressive, Skeptical Blog on Israel, Judaism, Culture, Politics, and Literature by Gershom Gorenberg and Haim Watzman.
  • If you are a Jewish feminist, check out Bridges at  They are seeking submissions for a theme issue on Jewish feminists and their fathers. Deadline: July 15, 2008
  • Kaleidoscope seeks submissions(short stories, essays, and articles up to 5,000 words)  for a theme issue on Disability and Childhood. Go to for details. Deadline August 1, 2008.
  • If you don’t know the difference between active and passive voice; if you forgot your pronoun rules; or if you want to know how to submit to anthologies, check out this blog for writers
  • Shifrah Devorah Will, M.A., M.F.A.,  offers creative writing classes in Jerusalem. Tel. 054-801-8483.
  • The deadline for the New Millennium Writing Contest is  June 17, 2008. Each entry costs $17. You can do so online at
  • The 1st International Writers Festival will open on May 11, 2008  in Jerusalem, sponsored by Mishkenot Sha’ananim. Go to their web site for details:
  • The Deronda Review accepts poetry and very short prose (500 words). Editor Esther Cameron lives in Wisconsin and co-editor Mindy Aber Barad lives in Israel. Submit to
  • The New York Jewish Week is looking for essays on Seder memories. Email:
  • Check out issue number 5 of The Short Review at
  • If you want to go to the best screen writing course in the world where you will learn the structure of story, sign up for Robert McKee’s Story Seminar, 19-21 April, in London. Details at
  • The Jerusalem Post is accepting short stories on Israel in another 60 years. A select few will be printed in the celebratory supplement in May. Deadline April 2, 2008. email:
  • Events organized or co-sponsored by The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University:
    •   On Monday, April 28, 2008, 7:30 PM,  the Second Memorial Evening for Shaindy Rudoff (zal) will be held in the Music Auditorium, North Campus, Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. Guest speakers: Tamar Yellin, Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in 2007 and Gerald Stern, prize-winning American poet. RSVP to me if you would like to attend:
    • On Sunday, May 11th  at 7 PM, the 6th Annual Poetry Reading of graduates  from the Bar-Ilan Program will take place at Tmol Shilshom Bookstore/Café in Jerusalem’s downtown Nachlat Achim.
    • On June 4, 2008 at 7 PM in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood, American writer and teacher Todd Hasak-Lowy will teach writers how to read a work of short Israeli fiction. Entrance fee. More details in the May Newsletter.
    • On June 19, 2008 at 7 PM in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood, American poet Alicia Ostriker will lead a discussion on Jewish memoir.  Entrance fee. More details in May.
    •  On June 16th   at 7 PM, Alicia will give a poetry reading at Tmol Shilshom  in Jerusalem’s downtown  Nachlat Achim.
    • Heads Up: August 12-14, Lee Gutkind, Editor of Creative Nonfiction, will give a 3-day seminar on creative nonfiction in Jerusalem. More details in May.
  • If you are a closet poet or if you have some short stories you would like to improve; if you would like to hone your fiction or poetry skills and gain confidence in your writing, now is the time to apply to The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. You owe it to yourself to take your writing seriously. Visit for application details. Application deadline: May 1, 2008 for semester that begins August 25, 2008

2. Your Publications

  • Judith Sudilovsky, who participates in my bi-weekly Friday morning writing workshop, had her first personal essay accepted for publication in the forthcoming June issue of Naamat Magazine. Mazal tov, Judith
  • Carol Ungar’s seder memory piece was accepted at The Jewish Week. Carol too is a member in the Friday morning workshop.  Congratulations!
  • Want to see your name here? Send me the details of your publications. This is good for you as a writer, because it gives you exposure, and good for all readers, because it inspires them to send out their poems, essays, and stories. Putting your writing into the world is not an easy process, so once you succeed, tell others about your success.

3. The Writing Life

For some people, it’s no big deal to send out a poem, an essay or a story to a magazine. For others, it’s the hardest part about writing. The fear of rejection hovers over us, as well as the fear of success.

Once I had to invent a ritual just to let go of a story. I made a toy boat out of a match box, the sail a toothpick and piece of paper. The boat symbolized my story. I figured if I could let the boat set sail on the pond across from the Knesset, I’d be able to send out my story to some magazine. I put the boat in a plastic bag, put the bag in my purse, and drove to the pond. The winter day was slightly windy, excellent for sailing, thought I who knew zilch about sailing.  I took the matchbox boat out of the plastic bag, set it in the bubbling creek, and wished it well. At first it skimmed a rock or two but managed to stay afloat downstream all the way to the pond. I was ecstatic. On the pond it swayed from side to side, me standing on the shore, praying for what, I can’t remember, for it was obvious this boat had no future. You didn’t need to be a sailor or live on the Mediterranean coast to know it would sink.

Fortunately, the journey took a few minutes, rather than a few seconds, enough time for me to contemplate my anxieties about letting go of a story. I realized that if my story was accepted, it would be out in the world, out of my control. People could read into it whatever they wanted. People could say it was lousy. “Who does she think she is?” they could say. “What kind of drivel?”
In a moment of what I can only call grace, I realized this was alright. Yes, I was losing a story, I was opening myself to criticism, but I would never lose the process. I knew I had the process of writing that story within me and I trusted that process, so I knew that I could write another story.
Thus, I was not sad when the boat sank.

Sometimes we hold on to something because we think we will be empty if we let it go. Nothing will take its place.
But if we relax and let go completely, something always takes its place.
The souls of writers and poets are like bubbling creeks.  Always, something new floats to the surface when we make room.
This past week I sent out Bethlehem Road.   This is my collection of eight stories that take place on Bethlehem Road in Jerusalem, where I lived for more than thirty years. I had to write the book when I moved away from Jerusalem in order to hold onto the neighborhood and those thirty years.
My friend asked me if the manuscript was ready for sending. “It will never be ready,” I told her. “But more important, I’m ready.”

May this Spring bring you a burst of  creative energy.
Chag Purim Sameach.



About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
This entry was posted in Bethlehem Road, Newsletter, Rejection, Submissions, The Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to March 2008 Newsletter

  1. Gidon Ariel says:


    Thanks for posting a shout about this on CIWI. It’s great!
    But I think you should publish these mini-feeds in a different forum rather than once a month as a single blog post.
    Twitter comes to mind, as does Facebook status, and of course separate entries for each.
    You also plop this all under category newsletter when each shard could go in its own category!

    I assume you can’t be bothered, but I have a feeling it would be worth your while.


  2. Natalie Moss-Rendell says:


    I understand that there will be an International Book Festival in May.
    As an avid reader, can I attend?
    What is the programme?
    Thank you for your attention,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s