For English language writers in Israel, it’s easy to feel caught between two worlds – wanting to speak Hebrew and integrate into Israeli society while feeling the need to write — and create — in English. That’s one of the reasons why aspiring novelist Nadia Jacobson opened Writespace Jerusalem, a continuing-ed school for writers.
“Even though I am proficient in Hebrew,” she said, “a mother tongue shapes your thoughts and culture. And while there are opportunities for writers in Hebrew here in Israel, many of us English-speakers look abroad in order to find a writing community instead of reaching out to the many people here seeking fellow writers.”
Jacobson immigrated from London 17 years ago. She completed Bar Ilan University’s Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing in 2008 and is now a fiction editor at the literary magazine, the Ilanot Review.
Her fiction has appeared in The Binnacle, Annalemma, Every Day Fiction, and a number of anthologies. And she embodies a key element of the Israeli spirit — Jacobson saw a void and filled it.
Writespace offers English-language writing workshops for all kinds of writers including dramatic writing, blogging, memoir writing, creative non-fiction, character creation, comedic writing and even builds a program that is contoured to the needs of each writer. More importantly, it provides a community for these wordsmiths.
“We wanted to offer different experiences of writing: all-day immersive seminars, workshops that build skills over time and writing dates to create a sacred space for writing,” said Jacobson.
The course instructors are veteran writers from Israel and abroad who draw upon personal experience from their respective fields.
“Jerusalem has a large Anglo community, and attracts visitors from all over the world. There are also so many wonderful visiting writers,” said Jacobson, explaining that Writespace creates “a platform for cultural exchange, to take advantage of the richness of those who pass through this city.”
”I have had a lot on my mind these past few months and it was cathartic for me get a new perspective through the contributions and insights delivered in this seminar, ” said Lynn, a participant in a workshop for dramatic writing.
“I felt there was a need for WriteSpace Jerusalem – both as a supportive environment for those with less experience and for those who’ve graduated from a creative writing program and are looking for further enrichment and an active writing community,” Nadia said.
In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an annual event that encourages writers of all levels to finish novels they are working on, Writespace has been hosting writing marathons throughout the month of November.