Creative Writing in Israel (Update)

Back in October I wrote a post about (and seeking more information concerning) creative writing programs in Israel. More recently I met an Israel-based writer and translator who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and she directed me to the Creative Writing Study Unit offered there. According to the Web site, “The study unit is designed for students holding a B.A. degree in English or Creative Writing who wish to develop their abilities in creative writing and/or literary translation.” It’s not quite what I’m looking for for my own purposes–but may interest some of you reading this. If so, visit the site to learn more. You can also contact Lisa Katz (lisakatz(at)mscc(dot)huji(dot)ac(dot)il).

ArtScroll Announcement

I’ve been busy the past several days attending (and reporting on) the 2008 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference in New York City. Now that I’m catching up with myself (and the mail that accumulated because although I came home each night to a Manhattan apartment I had zero time to read through anything), I’ve had a chance to read through the latest Jewish Week.

And I was intrigued to find there an announcement from ArtScroll welcoming Mrs. Miriam Zakon to the company as Acquisitions Editor. ArtScroll added this note: “We invite authors whose works are on a high literary and Torah standard to contact Mrs. Zakon with proposals and manuscripts at zakon(at)artscroll(dot)com.”

I’m always interested in learning more about publishers that focus on books of Jewish interest, and I hope to share more discoveries like this one here on the blog in the future.

Opportunities for Younger Scribes

In my last post I referenced the new issue of Moment magazine. I forgot to mention something else I noticed in my copy: an announcement for a contest the magazine is running for young writers.

If you know my other blog and/or my Web site, you know that pointing writers to contests and similar opportunities is something I spend a lot of time doing. Once upon a time, I thought I’d put together a resource guide on such opportunities specifically geared to recognize writing on Jewish themes or subjects. I actually proposed such a guide–in print form–to a few Jewish publishers. None bit.

But there’s no reason not to share some of my knowledge. With the Moment prompt, I’ll begin with a listing of contests for younger scribes. I’ll provide links to programs I understand NOT to charge entry/reading/processing fees. Please do not consider these listings endorsements, and, as they say, “use them at your own risk.”

Let me offer a few helpful hints (adapted from my Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions) that are applicable to most writing contests:

1. Always learn about the sponsoring organization and, if an award program includes publication, familiarize yourself with that publication before submitting any contest entry. Just as you must research potential publishers for your short stories, essays, or books in other situations, you’ll want to understand—and perhaps even better “match” your submissions—to a given opportunity. At the same time, especially with programs and publications that may be new or unfamiliar to you, it’s important to assure yourself that these are, indeed, places where you’ll be happy to see your work find a home and recognition.

2. Check with the sponsoring organization’s Web site (or by mail or phone if necessary) to learn about any changes in a program’s guidelines or policies. Deadlines in particular may shift from year to year, even just to accommodate a weekend or holiday.

3. If you request additional information or guidelines by mail, be sure to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with proper postage.

4. Plot the deadlines in your calendar. Plan ahead. Some writers use contest deadlines to spur them on to finish a project—or start a new one. Some set goals (one competition per month, one competition per quarter, etc.). But if there’s an opportunity that’s just perfect for you, don’t miss it because you “forgot” to note it when it first caught your eye.

5. Double-check every opportunity you’re interested in pursuing for required entrance forms and specific instructions on manuscript preparation and mailing.

6. Speaking of manuscript preparation and mailing—always follow the individual guidelines. Don’t assume that all contest policies are created equal! And don’t antagonize or irritate a contest administrator (or judge) before s/he has even read your work. Do not e-mail submissions to competitions that do not accept e-mail submissions. Do not send a manuscript with your name on every page if the guidelines explicitly state that your name should appear nowhere on the manuscript. Do not staple manuscripts that should be paper-clipped or bound. And so on.

7. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Then proofread again. Read your work aloud to catch the errors spellcheck or other computer programs may not have noticed.

8. Keep a record—and a copy—of all your submissions.

9. If and when you find yourself in the happy position of having your work win a competition, it is the kind (and polite) thing to do to notify any other publication or publisher who may be considering that work that it is no longer available (most organizations will indicate in their guidelines whether such a simultaneous submission was acceptable in the first place). Take care of any such notifications immediately.

10. Celebrate! (Whether you’ve “won” or not!) You’ve accomplished something pretty important just by taking the risk of putting your work out there and taking this chance. Give yourself some credit. And then get back to work….


Israel Arbeiter Essay Contest
(for students in grades 6-8 and 9-12; not clear if this competition is limited to students in the Boston area)
Areyvut’s Bnai Mitzvah Essay Contest (for students in grades 5-9)
Dov and Arlein Chetner Chai Essay Contest (for “all Canadian students who have graduated from a Canadian High School and who are now currently enrolled in a recognized postsecondary institution”)
Alice Eckardt Holocaust Writing Contest (for middle and high school students “in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas”)
Jacob Friedman Writing and Art Contest (for students in grades 5-12 in Washington State)
Dr. A.L. and Rose Greenberg Holocaust Essay Contest (for students in grades 7-12/ages 13-18; not clear if this competition is limited to students in Minnesota)
Israel 60 Essay Contest (for students in grades 3-12; three divisions; apparently for Broward County, Florida, only)
Israel@60 Essay Contest (for all university and college students in Toronto)
Kaplun Essay Contest (for students in grades 7-9 and 10-12)
Leon County Holocaust Student Essay Contest(for students in elementary, middle, and high school; not clear if limited to students in Leon County, Florida)
Moment Magazine “Publish-a-Kid” Contest (for young people ages 9-13)
Moment Magazine “You Can Change the World” Essay Contest (for students in grades 9-12)
OU Kosher Essay Contest (for students in grades 4-12)
Roth Memorial Fund Essay Contest(for undergraduates and graduate students)
Tribute to the Rescuers High School Essay Contest (for students in grades 9-12)
White Rose Memorial Essay Contest (for middle and high school students in the Tulsa region)
Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest (for registered undergraduate juniors/seniors at accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States)
Yom Hashoah Annual Essay Contest (for students in grades 8-12; “anyone affiliated with a Jewish Congregation/Synagogue in Central Massachusetts)

Have any programs to add? Please tell us (and supply a relevant link), in comments.

New Magazine: Jewish Living

Last week I received the inaugural issue of Jewish Living magazine. It’s dated November/December 2007, and has a significant Chanukah focus.

In her first editor’s letter, EIC Liza Schoenfein writes:

Why JEWISH LIVING? Because looking at the stuff of life–home, holidays, food, and family–through a uniquely Jewish lens (and a very modern one at that) makes it that much more significant. From our green gifts guide (page 19) to “The Top 10: Gift of Giving” (page 74), our new magazine is about incorporating the rich and diverse fabric of Jewish culture into your life–with style.

Admit it–haven’t you sometimes felt a little left-out when scanning certain mags on the supermarket checkout line? How much Christmas cookie counsel can a Jewish-American reader use, already?

Jewish Living may well fit a niche, and I’ll look forward to watching its progress. (One suggestion for the staff, should they be reading: Please post freelance guidelines on the site!)

Creative Writing in Israel

If you have the new Poets & Writers magazine on hand (the November-December issue), please turn to page 155. You’ll see there an advertisement that caught my attention right away.

It’s an ad for “Creative Writing in Israel,” specifically, for The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. I’m not necessarily in the market for another graduate degree in creative writing at the moment, but especially after my not-so-good experience in the program I did attend, the idea of studying writing in Israel, in a program emphasizing “Creative texts/Jewish contexts,” is enormously appealing.

So I’ve written to the program coordinator to find out more about any conferences/short-term opportunities that might be available. And I’d love to hear from anyone who might know about other (again, short-term) writing programs in Israel. Please comment here at the blog!