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Young Writers Competition 2023

Reut-Widawsky Reut Widawsky 1st Place

I had the pleasure of coordinating the successful and impressive 2023 ESRA Magazine Young Writers Competition. Students from the 8th, 9th and 10th grades took their choices from the four possible topics – 2033, Alone, NIS 20 and Inside Out – in fascinating and very varied directions.

There were 48 young writers who sent in stories. The panel of judges was faced with a very hard task and were impressed by the standard of the entries to the competition, their facility in the use of English and the breadth of imagination, thought and talent shown. Entrants had a wide range of home languages – Hebrew, English, Arabic, Spanish, Lithuanian and others – and came from a variety of backgrounds, places and schools in Israel. 

Anat Gartner 2nd Place


The Bakery on Newtown Street, by Reut Widawsky, an 8th grader at the Ulpana Lamerchav in Petach Tikva whose mother tongues are English and Hebrew.

Final Story!, by Anat Gartner, a 9th grader at the Zalman Shazar Junior High School whose mother tongue is Spanish. 

Error! Invalid Love Request, by Alex Lytvak, a 10th grader at the Johanna Jabotinsky School whose mother tongue is Ukrainian.

A Twinkle in the Night, by Katrina Makhoul, a 9th grader at the Italian School in Haifa whose mother tongues are English and Arabic.

Losing Touch, by Kayla Symanowitz, a 10th grader at the Mosenson High School in Raanana whose mother tongue is English.

NIS 20, by Maya Laufer, a 10th grader at the Herzog High School in Kfar Saba whose mother tongue is Spanish.

Monsters, by Paz Zadik, a 10th grader at the Beit HaHinoch HaYarkon in the Sharon whose mother tongue is Hebrew.

2033, by Yuli Smishkis, a 10th grader at the Herzog High School in Kfar Saba whose mother tongue is Hebrew.

Bedroom, by Lior Segev, a 10th grader at the Katzenelson Kfar Sirkin School whose mother tongue is Hebrew.

2033, by Sima Simpson, a 9th grader at the Ulpanat Ahavat Yisrael in Beit Shemesh whose mother tongue is English.

One Leafed Clover, Two Leafed Clover, by Philip Abboud, a 9th grader at the Italian School in Haifa whose mother tongues are English and Arabic.

Alone, a poem, by Noora Matanes, a 10th grader at the Italian School in Haifa whose mother tongue is Arabic.

Beverly Caplan is the Coordinator of the ESRA Young Writers Competition, 2023.

Alex Lytvak 3rd Place
Katrina Makhoul 4th Place

A few teachers who encouraged their pupils to enter the competition: 

Liz Frogel wrote: "I'm lucky to work in a supportive school with incredible students. I'm an English and Toshba teacher, and a pedagogical coordinator in the Middle School, at Ulpanat Ahavat Yisrael in Bet Shemesh. I have a degree in English literature and have been teaching for over 20 years. I made aliyah with my family 14 years ago, and I enjoy jogging, reading, and traveling in my free time. It gives me great pleasure to encourage my students to read and write for pleasure, and to help olim acclimate."

Lisa Futeran wrote: "I am an olah from Cape Town going into my 10th year as an English teacher at Tichon Herzog - Kfar Saba. Together with Lizi Sand Marcus I teach the English speakers (and others) in yud, yud aleph and yud bet.

I am also the coordinator of the ESRA volunteer program at our school. All our English teachers are extremely grateful for the input of the volunteers in helping prepare the yud bet students for their oral Bagrut exams. The students love having the volunteers and one even told me that it's her best English lesson of the week.

I felt motivated to encourage my yud English speaking students to participate in the ESRA short story competition as a thank you to ESRA. A kind of pay-back because of the well run volunteer program from which the students at Herzog benefit.

Thank you to all the ESRA volunteers who are committed to promoting a high level of English in the schools in Israel. We need all the help we can get. There is a tremendous shortage of qualified and capable English teachers throughout the country and ESRA is certainly helping to alleviate this problem in a small and effective way.

Lizi Sand Marcus wrote: "I teach English at Hertzog High School in Kfar Saba and I'm also the Bagruyot coordinator.

I was born in Maryland, USA and as such am an English native speaker. I've been teaching since 2012 in Israel as well as the USA in Michigan and California and I'm very passionate about language learning and teaching. Through language teaching, our students are exposed to a wide variety of cultures, perspectives and challenges people from around the globe face and I see how my students believe that English is an essential tool for succeeding in their future, whether in their career or any future aspiration. I tend to agree with them on this issue and have been speaking English with my two children as well since our return to Israel in 2019 after almost a decade in the US.

During the story writing process, when my students raised the question "What? Just write something creative? No specific structure?", I realized the extent in which many students today are used to being told how and what to do in school work while creativity is less nurtured in today's education. But, once they started they flew and developed intriguing plots that touch many life aspects among teenagers and raised interesting questions. Some might admit they even enjoyed this free creative writing opportunity!

Thank you for the opportunity ESRA and we look forward to taking part in the competition during the coming school year."

Chana Rosenthal, originally from New York, has been teaching English with the Israeli Ministry of Education for 12 years. After completing her Master's degree in Teaching Languages at Tel Aviv University, she has gone on to pursue professional development courses focused on: gifted students and language learning, Diplomacy and International Communication for high school students, and Holocaust studies for ESL/EFL teachers. Chana works at Beit Hinuch Yarkon, a middle school and high school, where she teaches English grades 8-12, as well as conflict management and resolution. She also tutors English privately. Chana enjoys planning trips with her three-year-old son, swimming, practicing yoga, reading, cooking healthy foods and getting ideas for different DIY projects from Pinterest. 



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Friday, 12 July 2024

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