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A Happy Ending for Our Winners

short-story-1 Six of the best (from left) Yonatan Sredni, Ilan Hirschowitz, Richelle Shem-Tov, Sue Lowinger, Jackie Shulman, Racheli Fuld

Photos: Yoav Cohen, Ilan Hirschowitz, Denis Kaliser, Marion Stone

It was an event to remember! An almost palpable buzz of anticipation permeated the celebratory atmosphere as guests mingled during the reception prior to the Award Ceremony for the ESRAmagazine 2018 Short Story Competition on the first Monday afternoon in April.

Old friends and volunteering colleagues reminisced over wine and tasty nibbles while perusing an exhibition with larger-than-life display stands showcasing the 12 winning stories and their authors in the ideal setting of the Arts Center in Raanana.

Soon, a varied program prepared by the ESRAmagazine Editorial Board, which could even grace the gravitas and sense of occasion of a famous international literary prize, would play out to the fortunate attendees filing into the auditorium.

Omer Singer, aged ten, presents Klezmer musician Bernie Marinbach with a bouquet of flowers
Klezmer music from Bernie Marinbach, Aharon Gnipek and Gregory Lev

For many, one of the main highlights of the program was an uplifting half hour of evocative, Klezmer music with Bernie Marinbach's virtuoso trio introduced by his sister, ESRAmagazine editorial board member, Judy Shapiro. The audience rose to its feet and demanded several encores, barely allowing Bernie and his fellow trio members, Aharon Gnipek and Gregory Lev, finally to leave the stage.

ESRAVISON anchor woman, Renee Singer, charmed the audience on opening the event. A still highly relevant, 20-year-old video, produced by Sally and Richard Halon, provided a lively and illuminating portrayal of ESRAmagazine's production and distribution and emphasised the role played by so many volunteers.

Greetings were delivered by the ESRAmagazine Editor, ESRA Founder and Life President, Merle Guttmann, then by ESRA Chairman, Baruch Tanaman, who also introduced as guest VIP, the Mayor of Raanana, former journalist, Haim Broide, who welcomed the audience and the work of ESRA.

Noting Mr Broide's jeans and casual, knee-length, grey, outer jacket I smiled in appreciation of his Israeli laid-back look compared with the formality of the decorative gown and chain of office of a UK mayor. 

At the podium (from left) Renee Singer, Mayor of Raanana Haim Broide, Dr Ilana Blumberg, Marian Lebor, Shlomo Liberman
ESRA representatives at the podium (from left) Baruch Tanaman, Merle Guttmann, Carol Novis, Judy Shapiro, Glenis Bertfield

The program continued with ESRAmagazine Editorial Board member and author, Swedish born Shlomo Liberman's introduction of the keynote speaker,Dr Ilana Blumberg, head of a graduate creative writing program at Bar Ilan University. Her lecture was on: "The Romance of Language: How Our Identities Shift Depending on the Language and Places We Find Ourselves".

American born and educated Dr Blumberg quoted from her latest book, a memoir: "Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American". She referred to her U.S. teaching experience and her enthusiasm for motivating children in their reading and creative writing. Merle Guttmann presented her with a certificate and gift of free ESRA membership while Omer, Renee Singer's delightful 10-year-old granddaughter, presented a bouquet.

Edification over, the Awards commenced. The ESRAmagazine Editorial Board had been the competition judges. They had scoured and scored the 78 local and international entries, unaware of the authors' names. Stories on the theme of "Serendipity" could be either fact of fiction and the standard was so high that the judges had selected 12 winning entries.

Gabriella Fulda ... overall winner of the contest

The overall winner was Gabriella Fulda of Manchester, UK, with her beautifully written story "Paris 1955". The tale unfolded artfully of a post WW2 meeting in Paris between Holocaust surviving siblings and their savior.

Carol Novis, Editorial Board member, recounted Gaby's background as the Viennese born and raised child of Holocaust survivors with an education in languages and the history of art who moved to Manchester to marry her late husband, Michael, with whom she had three children and grandchildren.

Gaby, an ardent Zionist involved in Israel advocacy, had initially visited Israel as a teenager and, with relatives in Israel, had continued to visit. She writes short stories and poetry and has sculpted. Unfortunately, owing to recent ill health, Gaby's certificate and free ESRA membership, had to be collected on her behalf by the author of this article, a former fellow Mancunian and Editorial Board member. A video of Gaby was played in which she explained that although she was the child of Holocaust survivors her story was fictional.

The second prize was former South African, now Kiryat Ono resident, Richelle Shem-Tov with "The Clock". She addressed the audience on behalf of the winners.

Guests gather at the reception in the Arts Center, Raanana, before the presentation of awards in the ESRAmagazine Short Story Contest

Carol Novis and Marian Lebor, Editorial Board members, introduced the winners who were congratulated by Baruch Tannaman and Merle Guttmann, and presented with framed certificates and ESRA memberships. Merle spoke of the "extremely impressive high standard of the writers of the winning stories" and thanked all those involved including Annette Bode who had coordinated the judging process.

ESRA Vice-Chair, Glenis Bertfield, delivered the closing remarks.

The winning stories can be read in several editions of ESRAmagazine or online (Nos. 197, 198, 199 and 200).

The winners were: 1st, Manchester based Gabriella Fulda (Paris 1955); 2nd, Richelle Shem-Tov (The Clock); 3rd, Racheli Fuld (Season of Change); 4th, Marion Lupu (Sweet Serendipity); 5th, London based Sue Krisman (Serendipity); 6th, Dov Silverman (Elvis Helps Me Courting); 7th, Jessica Strauss (Beit Lid – January 19, 1995); 8th, Yonatan Sredni, (California); 9th, Ilan Hirschowitz, (Be Kind to this Daughter of Mine); 10th, Patricia Carmel (The Garden); 11th, Jackie Shulman (I'm Sorry); 12th, Susan Lowinger (Clown Masks). 

Story board ... catching up with winning tales


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