Cheshvan-November 2008 Newsletter

creating community for English writers in Israel


  1. Your publications and news
  2. The Writing Life

1. Your publications and news

  • Yael Unterman’s solo performance play “After Eden: The first family conflict,” which has been performed in the US, UK and Australia, will be performed in Jerusalem on Nov. 13th, Modi’in on Nov. 22nd and  Tel Aviv on Nov. 27th. The play is preceded by a Bibliodramatic study of Genesis, Ch. 4. For details, contact Yael at Yael is a graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University.
  • Susan Kennedy, an experienced editor, is available to look at manuscripts, theses and other general or literary work.  Tel. 0524-462302.
  • Jennifer Lang “finally got brave enough to send out some stories to various literary reviews/journals and received many rejections. But amongst the rejections, there was one acceptance letter.” You can read Jennifer’s story in Vol 10 of the South Loop Review at
  • Rachel Gurevich’s poem “Five Seeds” appears in Literary Mama at
  • Linda Goldberg had two poems published in Voices Israel 2008. Her first book of short stories Here I Am has been published and can be purchased through her website.
  • Shelley Leveson, currently a student in The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program at Bar-Ilan and a publishing mavin, published a work of creative nonfiction in the SNReview. Check out Shelley would also like to share with you this website about publishing:  Once a story has been published, even on a small online ezine, no other journal will touch it, says Shelley. For more information, contact Shelley at
  • Leah Kotkes’ website promotes Jewish women writers from around the world. Her online journal for Jewish women readers and writers can be found at It includes a “Memoir Writing Lesson” by Vera Schwarcz and lots of other valuable advice.
  • Karen Kay Craigo, editor-in-chief of Mid-American Review writes in a newsletter that now is a good time to submit material to MAR, before the next big rush in early January. To read about the journal, visit www.

2.  The Writing Life

Often I feel like starting this short column by asking “What writing life?”  Ever since I finished  Bethlehem Road, my collection of eleven stories, I haven’t had the vaguest interest in writing anything longer than Yes We Can.   On the other hand, I’ve experienced greater joy in the kitchen, delighting in the simple pleasure of throwing things together in a pot without measuring anything, using the same abandon I use in a first draft.  These dishes are not always edible, but so what?  I have a compost pile that, like the waste basket, accepts everything.

Ever since finishing Bethlehem Road, I’ve spent more  time on the yoga mat. By Pesach, I will be able to stand on my head without the support of a wall. This practice may be more valuable for my psyche than  writing. The ultimate way to live, probably, would be writing while standing on one’s head.  If I master this, I promise to lead a one-day retreat to help others learn the art.  Yes we can.

I’m also spending more time reading. Two books that I’ve enjoyed  lately are After Dark by Haruki Murakami and On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.

I wish reading and writing didn’t involve so much sitting. Bored by the chair, I asked my brother, who works for the Sports Authority in the US, about an enormous inflated ball that he uses when sitting at his desk.  He highly recommends it. I will pick one up in Cleveland over Thanksgiving. Then I’ll be able to bounce when I’m sitting in front of the computer.  My writing, I assume, will become more lively.

I received an encouraging email from one of the agents in the New York literary agency where I sent Bethlehem Road. “I am very enthusiastic” were her words, the words I carved into the door of my office, the words that made me cry, not a teary cry, but one in which the abdominal muscles contracted in a deep way, almost like when I heard I was a grandmother.  “Very enthusiastic about your collection,”  she wrote.  I expected a BUT in the next sentence. But it wasn’t there.

Then the markets crashed, crash, are crashing. If Bethlehem Road never gets published, I will blame Lehman Brothers and greedy hedge fund salespeople. It’s so much easier to blame others than  take responsibility for my own stories that may lack proper pacing or good sex.

I’m not writing, but I am confident that one day, after I bounce around the room and stand on my head and cook floor soap soup, I will want to hanker down to some character who has a problem, some  voice that is dying to get out of the dark closet. On that day  time will stand still as it does when you are falling in love or when you’re immersed in writing a scene. On that day  I’ll remind myself that even when I don’t write, I’m still a writer.

Yes I will.


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.

5 Responses to Cheshvan-November 2008 Newsletter

  1. Jerry ward says:

    Hi to all , I read where Judy makes floor soap soup while standing on her head. Question, is that like rabbit stew or roasted groundhog?. In Canada some people eat groundhog, rabbit in stew and in soup. Just today a fellow told me he made some black squirre soup for him and his wife. He told me she asked him if it was beef or squirrel, She hated sqquirrel meat, he lied to her and told her it was beef. My last question I wondered how one could swallow food while standing on their head?.


  2. Miriam Drori says:

    Even when you’re not writing, you’re writing. And your writing is enjoyable to read.


  3. Gillian says:

    Judy -you can get huge bouncy balls here in Jerusalem – they ae used by physiotherapists. Look on internet to find where – good luck – and it’s a great idea, must try it! Gillian


  4. Abbie Rosner says:

    After practicing yoga for almost 3 years, and just turning 50, I also achieved the inconceivable, and managed to stand on my head without leaning against the wall. I celebrate your achievement and deeply appreciate its significance. Recently I read Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and the protagonist describes a homeless Jewish Vietnam Vet who attributed his healthy state of mind to standing on his head everyday. Blood flow to the brain surely stimulates creativity and no doubt writing will find its way back into your life soon enough – when you are ready. In the meantime, enjoy the pleasures of the kitchen – a.


  5. Judy Labensohn says:

    Thank you, Abbie, for your encouragement.


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