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Monday, May 5, 2014

BLOG HOP: Write On!




When my writer/friend Linda Rosen invited me to join this blog hop, first I was overwhelmed. I hesitated because of my busy schedule, concerned that I’ll have something else to do in addition to teaching, grading, writing, editing, and what not. But being thankful for the opportunity, I immediately accepted Linda’s kind invitation, thinking about the chance she has offered me to become part of a community of bloggers. You may already know Linda from our blog connection. Nonetheless, let me introduce her to you:


Linda Rosen lives in New Jersey with her husband.  When she’s not teaching fitness classes or working with private clients, she enjoys creating stories for readers to devour curled up in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea.  Her unpublished novel seeking representation, FLOURISH, was a semi-finalist in the 2012 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She has been published in 201 Family Magazine and The Dying Goose. She is a member of the Women’s National Book Association, NYC chapter, co-coordinator of Great Group Reads for National Reading Group Month, and has a website, www.linda-rosen.com, which links to her blog, The Literary Leotard.

As for me, Since 1986 I have taught a wide variety of courses in Political Science at Queens College. Throughout my academic career I have been actively participating in numerous conferences and I have been an invited guest speaker to many lectures.
In 1995-1996, as a Fulbright scholar, I went to Israel and the Palestinian Authority for my post-Doctorate project, interviewing Israeli and Palestinian women affected by conflict and war. I presented my finding both in writing and lectures.
In 1996 my book Israel on the Road to Peace: Accepting the Unacceptable was published (Westview Press), as were my book reviews, book-chapters, and articles. Currently I am writing a women’s fiction. As I mentioned earlier, I hope my memoir will be published both in English and Hebrew soon enough.
I live with my husband in New York City. I love music and the opera, ballet and the theatre, but mostly I love to spend time with my two lovely grandchildren. I intend to return to my painting sometime in the future. And when I will find the time I will go back to my painting.


1) What am I working on? I have just completed my third version of my memoir No Laughter in Winter, and sent it for yet another round of editing. My Hebrew version of the book is with Orion Publishers in Israel. Hopefully the book will be published by the end of this year, or early next year.
My task now is to work with the editors of both versions of the memoir. In between I hope to return to my women’s fiction (no name yet).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I guess every memoir is unique because each tells a story about an exceptional life experience.  We all use the term “voice,” using our own and giving voice to others. In my memoir I not only tell my own tale of love, loss and triumph, but I give voice to women who have suffered the consequences of war and its aftermath; young women who had been preyed upon by men, often experiencing the double standard with which their societies have judged them.

My women’s fiction tells the story of a fiery aging woman who refuses to live by the rules.   

3) Why do I write what I do? When a friend, to whom I was lamenting about the difficulty of publishing my book in the traditional route, asked me why is it so important for me to publish my work, to which I dedicated six or seven years of writing, rewriting and translating, I answered: “Because I have an important story to tell.” I have known for years that I’ll tell my story. Most importantly, it is a story I believe in.

4) How does my writing process work? I’ve written academically, but creative writing is completely different. No advisers, no “readers.” No one taught me how to write creatively. I just write, then rewrite, and write again, till I say to myself “it’s time to know when to stop.” Since English is not my native tongue, I am not always sure about the exactness of the words I choose: Is this the right use of the word? Is there a better one? Should I try to be more sophisticated? Is simplicity the answer? Then I follow my intuition, while allowing myself to make mistakes, as I am certain you’d notice. I have become much more self-forgiving when I make them, and I go on. As for style, I like the combination of long, sometimes run on sentences, and very short ones. I like to use color and smells, and detailed descriptions.

I’d like to thank Linda again for inviting me to be part of this Blog Hop, and to introduce my friend Barbara Sutton Masry to you.



Barbara is a screenwriter and a playwright, but she also writes short stories. She produced and co-wrote the short, “A Wake-up Call.”  She served as assistant producer for the historic, award-winning short, “Equality” about the first women’s liberation march and the prize-winning short, “The Most Dangerous Animal.”  Her full length feature, “A Wake-up Call,” is in development with attachments from the actors, Mira Sorvino, Dermot Mulroney, Ashanti, Peter Jacobson, Dan Hedaya and Amanda Setton.  She has a second feature in development,” Love Potion No. 10,” a romantic comedy. 

 Previously, Barbara was an educator and community activist while playwriting and producing. She produced her play, “Rewriting Her Life,” as an Equity Showcase at The 411 Space in Manhattan, and in Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest.  Her play, “Kika” was given a reading at the cell theatre in honor of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s 30th Anniversary. Among the plays she has written and produced,  “A Fettucini Affair” was published by Samuel French.   Other plays include the musicals, “Womansong” and “Suburban Serenade.” She has also written and produced shows for Cable TV and the videos, “My Paris, “ and “A Day in Pre-K.”  Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, and other Long Island newspapers.  She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, NYWIFT, (New York Women In Film and Television,  IFP, (Independent Feature Project) and The League of Professional Theatre Women.  She was named to the Town of North Hempstead Women’s Roll of Honor.   Her website is: awakeupcallfilm.com.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Memorial Day

A while ago I returned from the Memorial Day service honoring fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorist acts, which was held at the 92nd Street YMHA in Manhattan.

Tonight and tomorrow, throughout the Day of Remembrance, Israel will somberly remember its fallen. Tomorrow night, at the end of the day, the country will begin to celebrate its 66th Day of Independence.

The moving ceremony I attended today, and those I have attended for the last forty-seven years, is very personal for me: My first husband Yigal was one among the 23,169 Israeli soldiers who fell while in military duty since the beginning of the struggle for Israel’s Independence.  Close to 2,500 more were victims of terrorist acts.

Yigal was burnt beyond recognition on June 9th, 1967, when a Syrian missile hit his armored vehicle as his brigade began its ascendance to the Golan Heights, during the Six-Day war.  He died thirty-six hours later at the age of twenty-eight. I was twenty-three and pregnant, but I lost our unborn child because of the shock I endured seeing him minutes before his death.

Nearly half a century later I still sobbed when the cantor sang the somber Jewish prayer for the dead “God Full of Mercy.” When a bereaved brother recited the “Kadish” prayer, I solemnly recalled the unbearably painful expression etched on Yigal’s father’s face whenever he recited that prayer for his dead son, by whose side he remained until Yigal stopped breathing his insufferable loud, choking breaths.

“Yigal will always be the most important man in your life,” Stephen, my husband of nearly forty years then, told me in the autumn of 2010, after reading in Lilith Magazine, my chapter “A Knock at the Door in the Darkness of Night,” which was excerpted from my memoir “No Laughter in Winter,” to be published this year or next.

“How can you say that?” I protested. “I am married to you for almost forty years, whereas I was married to Yigal for three years only. You are the man with whom I decided to share my life far away from my family and the country I loved. We have a daughter and two grand children, and a shared history that is unique to us.” Then I admitted that losing Yigal so abruptly, seeing his scorched body and face and hearing his last breaths, all against the advice of his doctor, who feared the effect the sight would have on my pregnancy, is the most important experience of my life, our marriage and the births of our daughter and our grandchildren notwithstanding.

The last time I saw Yigal before he went to war he hoped would not break out he looked attractive and composed. While a military truck was waiting for him we said our goodbyes. We hugged and kissed for a long time, and then he put his hand on my stomach and held it there as if to protect his child. I always try to remember him the way he looked. But I can’t help remembering me standing by his side, unable to recognize him, his beautiful face erased by fire as if it never existed; the man whose loveliness will remain only in the memory of those who loved him.

This morning I woke up with a nightmare. It was nothing compared to the reality of the early hours of June 11th, 1967, that will forever remain with me. Inexplicably part of the rich and rewarding life am able to live.


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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Preview

It’s been exactly two-years since I created my blog. My first entry “Traditional or Self Publishing” spoke to the dilemma writers, new or established, face in the cutthroat industry of book publishing. While many writers are reluctant to self-publish because they want to be recognized by a traditional publishing house, the trend of self-publishing is growing.

It took me two years of agony to finally decide to self publish my book No Laughter in Winter (formerly titled War Widow), both in English and in Hebrew, the latter in Israel, where the publishing industry is even more restrictive than in the U.S.

“Liberating,” is the word some authors with whom I have spoken termed their decision to self-publish.

When a friend, to whom I was lamenting about the difficulties publishing my book in the traditional route, asked me why is it so important for me to publish my work, to which I dedicated six or seven years of writing, rewriting and translating, I answered: “Because I have an important story to tell.”  I have known for years that I’ll tell that story. Most importantly, it is a story I believe in.

It is a story about a young girl born in Tel Aviv, Israel. My childhood years were marked by my mother’s severe recurrent depression. Like other children I blamed myself for my mother’s illness. Nothing original about that.

Like many more children around the world, I grew up in times of war.

Like other  women, I fell madly in love with a man too popular among the opposite sex and got married young in spite of doubting my decision. Again, nothing unusual.

Like other women I suffered two miscarriages: a girl, who was too small to survive after twenty-two week of pregnancy, and a boy who lived for thirty-six hours after twenty-six weeks of pregnancy. Years later technology would have him survive. I went through a corrective procedure, and was "as good as new," planning another pregnancy.

Becoming a young war widow is not extraordinary either. But, seeing your husband burnt beyond recognition and hearing his deafening last breaths, your body succumbing because of the shock, suffering a near death experience, being medically abused in the hospital where you stay while trying desperately to save your pregnancy, loosing your unborn child after your husband's death and blaming yourself for depriving your in-laws of the grandchild they wanted so badly, is not an ordinary tale.

Having been “discovered” as a young widow by men for your “beauty”, is a story many young widows can probably tell. Stories about relationships with famous married men have too been portrayed. Having fled from a smothering love affair to a far away land may also be considered commonplace. Having been raped by your fallen husband’s best friend may not.

That all these things happened to one young woman, who persevered in spite of the dark fears she endured before healing, became an activist, and successfully rebuilt her life, is unique.

That is why I wrote my book. Not to be pitied or admired. But to inspire men and women who faced life’s most difficult challenges. To give voice to the women who influenced my life, to the severely depressed and their families and to young widows who face double standards in the societies in which they live.

Today I live in New York City with my American husband;  I am a mother of a special daughter who is married to a devoted son in law, a grandmother of two who fill my life with joy, a lecturer at Queens College/CUNY and a recipient of Fulbright scholarship. Currently I am working on a woman's novel in between re-editing my memoir. 

I hope you care to read my book once it’s published, for I am committed to tell my story.


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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Letter to the Editor, NY Times.


On February 3rd I sent this letter to the New York Times, in response to an Op-Ed piece, but the paper didn’t print it. Here it is:

Omar Barghouti’s “Why Israel Fears the Boycott” (Op-Ed Feb 2nd) is full with slender and deliberate inaccuracies. Israel is neither more nor less “racist” or democratic than other democracies, but it is a thriving one, with a robust civil society, including Arab advocacy associations, free elections for all, a multiplicity of political parties, including Arab, and the right of all citizens to participate in government.

Mr. Barghouti neglects the fact that Israeli Arab citizens, Palestinians included, are Knesset members, who are allowed like everyone to publicly criticize the government, Supreme Court justices, college professors, lawyers, physicians and more. It is conceded, Israel still needs to achieve real social and economic equality for its Arab citizens, the Bedouins in particular, and it needs to end the construction of Jewish settlements in the land it occupies since the 1967 war. But to compare Israel to Saudi Arabia or the old South Africa is disingenuous.  

Barghouti does not appear to understand the difference between nation and state. That Jews are both adherents of a religion and a nation confuses him. Like other nations they achieved self-determination when they created their own nation-state, which is indeed threatened by the unrealistic Palestinians’ demands for the right of return.

The American Studies Association’s and other academic groups’ boycott of Israel is a shameful act, for it is mostly in Israeli academic institutions that the voices for both the end of the occupation and peace is heard.                                                                                                                     

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