Nisan-March 2009 Newsletter

creating community for English writers in Israel


  1. Jerusalem Writing  Seminars, Summer 2009
  2. Your prizes  publications and other odds and ends
  3. Advertising
  4. The Writing Life

1. Jerusalem Writing  Seminars, Summer 2009
Two fabulous writers and gifted instructors will be teaching in Jerusalem this summer as guests of The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

  • Ehud Havazelet, highly-acclaimed author of Bearing the Body will teach a three-day seminar for experienced fiction writers and a two-day seminar for beginners.
  • Ilana Blumberg, author of Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman among Books , will teach three days of creative nonfiction.

The seminars will take place in the Stern House in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem.  For full details, email me at  Space is limited, so register early. These are world-class writing instructors coming to Israel to work with you! 

2. Your prizes and publications

  • Diane Greenberg’s poems were published in the Spring 2009 issue of Bridges, devoted to  Jewish feminists and their fathers.
  • Evan Fallenberg’s novel Light Fell is gaining new prizes each week., including being shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award. For the full list, go to
  • Tania Hershman’s The White Road and Other Stories continues to make waves and win prizes. She has five flash fiction stories published in PANK magazine at  Her story “Straight Up” was the European regional winner of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association’s 2008 short story competition. Go to for full details.
  • Sue Yaffa Tourkin-Komet’s essay “West of the Dead Sea, My Walking Journey” was accepted in Edenswaterpress, USA.
  • Ruth Fogelman has a poem in  The Deronda Review, Winter 2009 and in Arc 19, as well.
  • Laya ‘s Meet the New Student from Israel for young adults was published by Mitchell Lane in 2008. It won a Mom’s Choice Award, among others. Visit for further details.
  • Rachel Gurevich recommends these inspiring talks about creativity and the writing process. Elizibeth Gilbert: A different way to think about creative genius at and Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide? at
  • Moshe Dan’s article appeared in The Jerusalem Post and can be accessed at
  • Tel Aviv Stories, a collection of short stories published by Ang-Lit in celebration of Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary,   is making a big splash in Israel and England. You can buy it now at Steimatzky’s. Watch your local papers for readings in your area during the coming months. So many of you are published in this anthology. Mazal tov!
  • Michelle Kushner published an article in Jerusalem Post Metro about the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.  Her article on Haim Benyasin, an Ethiopian Prisoner of Zion is at
  • Shoshana London Sappir writes regular features for Hadassah Magazine.
  • Yakov Azriel’s In the Shadow of a Burning Bush: Poems on Exodus was published by Time Being Books at the end of 2008.
  • Zach Helke’s poem “Stav” appeared in the #4 issue of  online magazine Blue Jew Yorker. It was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
  • Gila Green’s White Zion is a finalist for the Doris Bakwin contest of Carolina Wren Press. Her story “The Costume Room” is a finalist for TenTen Fiction Award at
  • Leah Kotkes is organizing The Writer’s Journey Seminar in Jerusalem for May 5, 2009.  This is a full day of lectures from published writers and editors.  For details contact Michelle at  Women only.
  • Rosally Saltsman’s songs are available at
  • Yael Unterman’s Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar , published by Urim Publications, is available from Yael at
  • Dov Te’eni’s book Let’s Congress is available through
  • Toby Greenwald edited The Golden Pens of Gush Etzion, a 250-page collection of the the writings of golden agers who participated in Greenwald’s creative writing class. Orders through Dalia OrLev at
  • Sharon Bacher’s essay on singing appeared in ESRA Magazine and is available at
  • Judy Labensohn’s essay “Leaving Babylon: A Walk through the Jewish Divorce Ceremony,”  which first appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Issue 19, will be reprinted in Text Wrestling: A college textbook for entry level reading comprehension courses, edited by David Fleming.

3. Advertising

  • Fern Reiss has excellent marketing ideas for writers. Visit
  • Shifrah Devorah Witt, MFA,  teaches creative writing and manuscript development in Jerusalem. 054-801-8483
  • Find not only your writer’s voice. Sing!  A choir in the Sharon is looking for you. Call Sharon Bacher at 050 314 5255 for details.
  • Gila Green teaches writing in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. Tel. 02-999 9717
  • Amanda Cohen edits children’s and adult fiction and runs a creative writing group in Tel Aviv. Tel. 054 668 6503
  • Dara Barnat teaches creative writing at Beit Berl College. email

 4. The Writing Life

As full as this newsletter is, it would have been moreso if I had gotten it out on time, say mid-January. Due to my lateness, deadlines passed, events happened and you never heard about them. I apologize to those who asked me to publicize an event at the end of February, beginning of March. I had a good excuse for once: I was writing, creative, that is.

Usually it works the other way: I have a good excuse for not writing creative.

What got me fired up enough to avoid writing this monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter was the interest of an agent in Bethlehem Road, my collection of short stories. The agent has been encouraging me over the past sixteen months, but once he accepted the collection, he wanted an introductory essay and once he accepted the essay he wanted an idea for a novel and once he accepted the idea for a novel, he wanted the first 30-50 pages.

I started writing the novel the way many young people had sex in the 1960’s – from a distance, as an exercise, a form of play, not serious. But just as you can’t remain dissociated from your body while at the same time trying to be honest for long, so too, you can’t be casual about your novel. After a week of writing, I found myself looking forward to sitting at the computer to find out what was going to happen to my characters. I started to respect them, listen to them, open myself to their stories. What started as a fling turned into a serious relationship

Compared to “my novel,” everything paled, including this newsletter.

Finally, last week I sent out 33 pages. Since the agent has not yet responded, I can share your publication news. So many of you have told me that you appreciate receiving this newsletter, that it gets you writing, submitting, finding a class or a mentor, taking an unfinished poem or story out of your desk drawer. That’s heartwarming for me to hear. Continue to send me your publication news. I promise to do my part, but if you don’t hear from me for another few months, it’s a good sign: I’m writing a novel. 

Hope to see you in Jerusalem at the fabulous Summer Writing Seminars.


About Judy Labensohn

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

3 Responses to Nisan-March 2009 Newsletter

  1. Hi Judy,
    a great newsletter as always, thanks so much for mentioning my stories. And how wonderful that writing has kept you too busy to do the newsletter! Long may it be so!


  2. yaelpolitis says:

    Hi Judy,
    Can only wish you success with your novel.
    Your newsletter is great and I would like to suscribe to it.
    Could you include a notice that my novel The Lonely Tree has been published and is available at online booksellers? Anyone who would like more information about it can go to my blog: and follow the Lonely Tree link on the My Books page. It is a love story that is set during the events in the Etzion Bloc, pre-War of Independence. Characters are all fictional but historical events are accurately portrayed. Thanks
    Yael Politis


  3. 'Aunt' Laya says:

    Thanks so much for posting about the book “Meet the New Student”. The book that won the award is a self help book for teens called “You Don’t Have to Learn Everything the Hard Way”

    Best blessings!


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