The expressions, “as uncountable as the sands of the seashore,” or “as numerous as the stars of the heavens” denoting vast quantities are derived from the Torah in describing the descendants of Abraham. Both expressions could be used to describe the philanthropic projects of Cherna Moskowitz and the Moskowitz Foundation. “Cherna,” as friends call her, is dedicated to helping the Jewish People in every way she can, in the tradition of her late husband, Dr. Irving Moskowitz of blessed memory.
Always on the lookout for new paths in Jewish education, Mrs. Moskowitz is sponsoring a Jewish Short Story Contest and Creative Writing Workshop for young people to remind the smartphone generation that “WhatsApp” is not the only form of communication.
“Today, in the modern digital world, young people don’t develop their writing skills,” she says. “Instead of doing their own creative thinking, they send each other ‘WhatsApps,’ ‘Instagrams,’ and ‘Smileys’. If we want to combat assimilation and encourage people to have a positive view of Israel, we have to use every tool we can. True Jewish literature, movies, paintings, photography and the like, can powerful mediums in awakening the heart and inspiring a love for our Homeland and our heritage.”
The Creative Writing Workshop will begin with a Jewish short-story contest, followed by an eight-part fiction writing workshop, via the Internet, conducted by Tzvi Fishman, author of a score of books on a variety of Jewish themes, including the Tevye in the Promised Land trilogy. Winner of the Israel Minister of Education Award for Creativity and Jewish Culture, Mr. Fishman taught screenwriting at the New York University Film School before making Aliyah.
Beginning writers can discover valuable tips by downloading Fishman’s guide to “Jewish Creative Writing” – available free at the tzvifishmanbooks.com website, where information about the contest and workshop can also be found. Young writers from the ages of 15-30 are invited to participate. A panel of judges will choose the twenty top stories. Ten awards will be reserved for teenage writers. Each winner will receive a set of the “Tevye” trilogy and participate in the Cherna Moskowitz Jewish Creative Writing Workshop, which will cover basic topics such as: story ideas, theme, characterization, plot development, drama, and screenwriting, from both a technical and Jewish perspective.
“In college courses in creative writing, Aristotle and the Greeks are given the credit for establishing the foundations of dramatic writing”, Fishman says. “But storytelling began with the Author of Authors, the Storyteller of Storytellers, in the Book of Books, the Torah, long before the Greeks. All the principles of character, drama, conflict and suspense are found in the story of Adam and Eve, and in the saga of the Exodus.”
The fictional short stories in the contest must have Jewish content, set in a background of Judaism, Jewish History, Zionism, Jewish Identity, or Life in Israel. Maximum length is 3,000 words. Stories and queries should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submissions is April 7.
I can’t wait to read the stories. What suspense!