Chanukah-December 2008 Newsletter

creating community for English writers in Israel


  1. Writing events and resources
  2. Your publications
  3. Calls for submissions
  4. The Writing Life

Writing events and resources

  • I will be leading a creative nonfiction class every other Sunday evening from 5-7 PM at Evan Fallenberg’s Writing Studio, Moshav Bitan Aharon (north of Netanya).  The class will begin at the end of January. For registration, email Evan at
  • Oren Safdie, architect turned playwright, will read from a new play and discuss an old play on Tues. Dec. 23rd, 7 PM at the Stern House in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem. Both plays deal with architecture in modern life. This program is sponsored by the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, of which I serve as Coordinator. If you are interested in attending, email me at and I will send you the play to read. Entrance fee – NIS 40.
  • “From Brainstorm to Book: Yes, You Can Write a Book ” is a seminar (for women only) presented by Esther Heller, Editor-in-Chief at Targum Press and Bassi Gruen, Editorial Dir. at Targum. Mon. Jan 5, 9:30-noon at the Targum office in Jerusalem. Fee: NIS 80. Details: or Tel. 02-651-3355.
  • Morning and afternoon writing classes available with Shifrah Devorah Witt, MA, MFA in Jerusalem. Tel. 054-801-8483
  • Gila Green will lead  memoir and fiction workshops at Touro College, Jerusalem, as part of the Continuing Adult Education program. Classes begin week of Jan. 12, 2009. Contact for information and registration
  • Mike Scheidemann, Pres. of Voices, Israel, announces a poetry festival with Richard Berengarten. Jan. 5-10, 2009 in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and week-end workshop at Kibbutz Sheffayim. Details: Mike at 04-659-8329 or For info. on Berengartem, visit
  • If you too are coping with the loss of a loved one, check out Jeffrey Green’s blog at 
  • Jennie Feldman, who has taught two successful summer semesters at Bar-Ilan’s creative writing graduate program is available for tutorials in Jerusalem. A graduate of Oxford University, she is the author of two books of prize-winning poetry. Contact
  • Fern Reiss of has launched the International Association of Writers.  Check it out at  to see how it can help you market your talents.
  • Lloyd Masel writes: For classical music lovers, visit
  • Evan Fallenberg  is hosting Joan Leegant at The Studio on January 7, 2009 for a reading and on Jan. 29th for a full-day master class on Story Structure in Fiction. Details:
  • Evan Fallenberg will read at Tmol Shilshom in Jerusalem on Tues., Dec. 30, 2008 at 7 PM with Australian author Leah Kaminsky. Moderator is Prof. Michael Kramer, Bar-Ilan University.

2. Your publications

  • Joan Leegant’s first novel was accepted by W.W. Norton for publication in 2010. Joan’s first book, An Hour in Paradise, was also published by Norton. The new novel awaits a title. Joan has been teaching the fiction workshop in the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, to the delight of her students.
  • Valerie Farber’s City of Refuge has received nice reviews that can be accessed at  Valerie is available for a book talk and Powerpoint presentation about her novel, set in the time of the Judges. Contact
  • Pessie Frankel and Yocheved Leah Perkal have published a new book, Mrs. Honig’s Cakes #3: Fancies and Fantasies for Children. Hamodia Publishing        
  • Gavriel Reisner, former Jerusalemite who teaches AP literature at the High School of Economics and Finance near Wall Street and an online survey course of English lit. for the Michlala (Jerusalem College for Women) has recently published poems  in And Then … and Home Planet News.
  • Dara Barnat, poet and writing teacher in the Tel Aviv and coastal area, will be publishing a collection of her poetry entitled Headwind Migration. The collection is being released by Pudding House Publications.
  • Sarah Kreimer’s article in the Jerusalem Post Magazine  of Nov. 28, 2008 about olive-picking near Hebron drew much attention.  Read it at
  • The next Voices magazine will publish two poems by Rena Siegel Yechieli. She has also published in Midstream
  • Carol Ungar’s short fiction on mothering is a selected short of the month by Literary Mama for Dec. 2008. Read it at
  • An excerpt from The Lost Daughter by Esther Heller can be read  at
  •  is the site of Yael Unterman’s “In My Place” on the Shofar Literary Review.
  • Am Oved has published a collection of poetry written in English by Lisa Katz, Jerusalem poet, translator and teacher, and translated into Hebrew by Shachar Bram. Shichzur in Hebrew; Reconstruction in English.

3. Calls for submissions

  • Horizons,  a monthly magazine serving  Orthodox Jewish women in Israel and the US,  is looking for talented writers.  Features and fiction: 1,000-3,500 words; poetry: up to 20 lines.  If you’d like to pitch a proposal,  email
  • An internet magazine dedicated to traditional Judaism is looking for poetry and short prose under 5,000 words. Contact
  •  Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative has been sponsoring a personal essay contest since 1995. Check out guidelines at
  • January 31, 2009 is the deadline for the New Millennium Writings contest for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Details at
  • Can you write a memoir in six words?  If so, submit it to

4. The Writing Life

I’ve been doing a balancing act all day in front of the computer, not between description and dialogue or back story and present action, not between emails and poetry, but between belly muscles and feet, lower back and hips. Yes, I am sitting on the famous Balance Ball, originally developed in the 1960’s for physical therapy, savior in schools for hyperactive children and solution for writers who hate stasis.

During the past two weeks since I started using the blue ball, I’ve been able to sit at the computer longer than usual and have no aches, as I used to. Also, I have not fallen backwards, but have managed to keep both feet on the ground. My concentration has been exceptional, even at 3:30 in the morning when I awake from jetlag.

According to the literature, not only am I writing, but I am also improving my posture and strengthening my core muscles, those between the chest and the legs for non-scientists.

As I type this sentence I am bouncing and I feel a n enjoyable senseof rhythm. Uswually I write without bouncinjg.

I see from all the mistakes in those two lines that bouncing is not good for spelling.

The Balance Ball legitimizes wiggling. “There is a neurological pathway that goes from your body’s balance and movement system to the alert system in the brain,” says a web page on Balance Balls from . Movement actually allows for alertness and attention. In response to the ball’s instability, the body instinctively and continually moves its core muscle groups.

Remember all those nasty teachers who told you to stop wiggling in class? Turns out they were wrong and you were right. Wiggling is good for the brain. It helps you focus.

Currently, I am working on a story which feels like pulling molars embedded in steel gums, working with only cotton string and a blunt knife. I wish writing weren’t this hard. Haven’t I been doing it long enough to know how to do it? Apparently not. Some writers, much more published than I, also say that it gets harder as you get older. Maybe this is because the cells in the brain get coated with plaque and memory slacks. I don’t know, but I wonder if violinists have the same problem.

I hate to think that sitting on the ball is making the writing harder, even though it is more comfortable. What I would like to think is that this story, if it ever gets written, will be the best ever, a real breakthrough in voice, content and structure. Then I will be able to say that I owe it all to my bouncy blue air-filled elastic soft PVC, made-in-China balance ball.

A Happy Bouncy Chanukah to all!

Warmly ,

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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