About the Authors - Issue 18

Yoav Avni is an Israeli writer and translator. He has written five books so far: a collection of short stories (Your Lights Are On) and four novels, including the bestselling Three Things for a Desert Island, the 2010 Geffen award winner To Be, and the 2012 Geffen award winner What If. His latest novel (from which this excerpt is taken) is Crossing A River Twice, which was published last month in Hebrew. Avni’s writing is influenced by authors Tom Robbins, Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. Website: http://yoavavni.com/englishtrans.php
Isaac Babel (the author) was a short-story writer, playwright, literary translator and journalist. He joined the Red Army as a correspondent during the Russian civil war. A friend and protégé of Maxim Gorky, he was the first major Russian-Jewish writer to write in Russian and was hugely popular during his lifetime. Despite his popularity, his critical portrayal of the Cossack army in Red Cavalry, also published by Pushkin Press, made him significant enemies within the Soviet establishment. He was murdered in Stalin's purges in 1940, at the age of 45.
Yishai Beckow divides his time between learning Torah, writing and teaching emergency care. He has published poems, a photograph and short stories, and writes children’s stories and non-fiction. At present he is working on a book about the operation of the monarchy during the Davidic dynasty. He has one amazing son. Yishai is a dual-citizen in both Israel and Canada. He has lived in three holy cities. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada. He graduated from Humber’s Ambulance and Emergency Care program in 1992.
Gershon Ben-Avraham holds an MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from Temple University where he studied with Monroe Beardsley. His poetry and short stories have appeared in both online and print journals including Apollo’s Lyre, Bolts of Silk, Both Sides Now, Numinous: Spiritual Poetry, Poetica Magazine: Contemporary Jewish Writing, Poetry Pacific, and The Jewish Literary Journal. He lives with his wife Beth and Kulfi, the family collie, in Beersheba, Israel.
Lili Berger (1916-1996). Born in Malken (near Bialystok), Berger was a prolific literary critic and essayist, as well as a novelist and playwright. She received a religious education, completed high school in Warsaw, studied in Brussels, and settled in Paris at the end of 1936. She taught Yiddish and contributed to important periodicals. During the Nazi occupation of France, together with her husband, Louis Gronowski, she was active in the Resistance and was involved in the rescue of Jewish children from deportation. She returned to Warsaw after the war but was forced to leave in 1968 during the great exodus which she bitterly referred to as the ‘trikener pogrom’ (the bloodless pogrom). She resumed her literary activity in Paris, living there until her death in 1995. Her articles and essays were often about writers and artists, including Franz Kafka, Janusz Korczak, Simone de Beauvoir, and Chaim Soutine — people she had known personally, who had experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, Soviet Gulag, or other ordeals in post-war Communist Poland. Her fiction depicted characters scarred by the Holocaust. Her collections include Today and Yesterday (1965), Essays and Sketches (1965), After the Flood (1967), Broken Branches (1970), In the Course of Time (1976), From Near and Far (1978), Incomplete Pages (1982), and Echoes of Distant Times.
Perle Besserman, recipient of the Theodore Hoepfner Fiction Award and Pushcart Prize nominee, was praised by Isaac Bashevis Singer for the “clarity and feeling for mystic lore” of her writing, and by Publisher’s Weekly for its “wisdom [that] points to a universal practice of the heart.” Perle holds a doctorate in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and has lectured and taught worldwide. Her fiction includes: Pilgrimage, Kabuki Boy, Widow Zion, and a linked story collection Yeshiva Girl. Her non-fiction: A New Kabbalah for Women, A New Zen for Women, Grassroots Zen, and, recently, Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers, both co-authored with Manfred Steger. www.perlebesserman.net
Daniel Bissonnet's early photography has been published in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, and elsewhere. When supporting a family as an IT Management Consultant for IBM he turned his writing skills to adult training and development articles in professional journals. Having recently left HP, he is returning to the creative passions of his youth. Today he delivers d'vars (sermons) at the Museum Minyan, a lay led equalitarian minyan at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston Texas. "Visiting Jack" is his first published short story. The character Jack is central to his in-progress novel with the working title Memory Care Unit.
Beth Bosworth is the author of The Source of Life and Other Stories (University of Pittsburgh Press), for which she received the 2012 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her other books are the novelTunneling (Crown) and a debut story collection, A Burden of Earth (Hanging Loose). Her work has appeared also in the Kenyon Review, AGNI, Guernica, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn and edits the Saint Ann’s Review.
Stewart Bresler was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up on Long Island. He received his Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Rochester. After university, Stewart lived a few years in Southern California. He then moved to Israel, where he lived for the next twenty years and also served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves. He has three children, all born in Israel, and he currently resides in the Pacific Northwest.
Phil Cohen is a Reform rabbi currently serving in West Lafayette, Indiana. His interests in Judaism, especially Jewish thought and ethics have combined with an interest in writing fiction. In addition to a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, he is currently finishing an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville, KY. It is his hope that a career of academic writing, sermons, and bulletin messages can be translated into writing fiction. The story published here is an excerpt from his first novel, a dystopic Jewish science fiction novel.
Larry Gerstein, a mathematician, has written mathematics books and research papers, which he hopes were nonfiction. “Religious Studies” is his first published piece of fiction. He grew up in New Hampshire, went to Columbia for college and Notre Dame for graduate school, and then moved to Santa Barbara, where he and his wife live. His writing is part of his desperate attempt to keep up with the creative output of their two sons, who live in New York. He is an amateur musician, and he plays violin and trombone in assorted music groups.
Cary Gitter is a playwright and fiction writer living in New York City. He is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Obie Award-winning playwrights’ group, Youngblood. His plays include Support Israel (finalist, Fresh Ground Pepper PlayGround PlayGroup), The Smelly Girl(reading, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), I Fought New Jersey (NYU’s John Golden Playwriting Prize), and Herschel in History (semifinalist, O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference). His many one-acts include Molly Finn R.I.P. We Love You (finalist, Samuel French Short Play Festival). His dramatic work has been published in interJACtions, Vol. III (JAC Publishing) and his fiction in the Jewish Literary Journal. He holds a BFA and an MA from NYU.
Avigail Graetz was born in Israel in 1975 and grew up in Omer, a small town near Beersheva. She has a B.A. in film from Tel Aviv University and a M.F.A from Ben-Gurion University in creative writing. She teaches about "Israeli Society as Seen through Film" for the Overseas Program at Ben-Gurion University and she teaches “Mindfulness” at IDC Herziliya. Graetz wrote four plays that were shown on stage. Her play Ona’at Devarim (Verbal wrongs) was featured at the Akko festival, and her most recent play, In Case I'm Not Around, was performed at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem in 2016. She was awarded the PARDES Fellowship program at the National Library of Israel and also the Jewish National Fund Hebrew Literature Prize (2012), both for her debut novel, A Rabbi’s Daughter. She has published several short stories as well as poetry, and had a weekly column that integrated the “Portion of the Week” with Buddhist philosophy. She is now working on a novel, Mama India, which is set in Israel and Palestine.
Sam Hoffer was born in Chernivtsi (Chernovitz) , Ukraine in 1945, the son of Holocaust survivors. He and his family emigrated to Canada where he grew up in a Jewish farming colony in southern Saskatchewan. An economist by profession, Hoffer holds an MEd from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He writes short stories and poetry and is completing a memoir of his childhood on the prairies, An Uncertain Dawn, excerpts of which were published in the Canadian Jewish News. He has released a CD of original Yiddish tales entitled, S'helft nisht keyn krekhtsn! (website: yiddishstories.com) selections of which were broadcast on Yiddish Forward Radio, New York. Hoffer is also active in the visual arts as a photographer and producer of video biographies.
Gail Labovitz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area, lived in New York City for a number of years, and now resides in Los Angeles. In her “day job” she is an ordained Conservative rabbi and associate professor at the American Jewish University, where she teaches and researches rabbinic literature of late antiquity and Jewish law. She has studied creative writing with the Writers’ Studio in New York and the UCLA Extension Writers Program. In addition to several short stories published in Jewish and feminist journals, including prize winning stories with Lilithand Women in Judaism, she is also the author of the academic work, Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of Gender in Rabbinic Literature and numerous articles.
Naya Lekht was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1989. She received her Ph.D. in Russian Literature from UCLA in 2013, where she is currently a faculty adjunct. Lekht has published fiction and non-fiction. In addition to working on a book about Babi Yar in Soviet Literature, Naya is currently putting together a short story collection that centers on the tension between collective and individual memory in shaping major historical events.
Naomi Myrvaagnes is the author of The Third Street Temple, a tragicomic novel about a rabbi and her congregation. A Resident Scholar in the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, Naomi has written poems, essays, and fiction. Her work has appeared and won awards in publications ranging from the Harvard Review to Onthebus, from the Forward to the Christian Science Monitor. Her midrashic monologue, Rebekah, has been set as a chamber opera by composer Ruth Lomon and was performed at Brandeis in 2013. A recent essay, “The Atheism Spectrum,” in the webzine 614, examines the place of God in the mind and life of Rabbi Felice Whitman, protagonist of The Third Street Temple.
Marlene Olin’s short stories have been featured or are forthcoming in over sixty publications. She is the winner of the 2015 Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Award as well as a Best of the Net nominee. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Miami, Marlene attended the University of Michigan. She recently completed her first novel.
Sam Osherson is a psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, MA, and the author of a number of books, including The Stethoscope Cure, a novel about psychotherapy and the Vietnam War.
Ricky Rapoport Friesem, after 25 years as a journalist, filmmaker and ultimately, Head of the Communications Department of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, turned her attention to her first love, creative writing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and have garnered awards both in Israel and abroad. She has published four collections:Parentheses, First Prize Winner in Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book contest,Laissez-Passer, Reality Check, and a Hebrew collection, Mekurka’at, published by Eked in 2013. Her recent poetry collection, Mumbai Luck, won the Dallas Poets Community 2015 Chapbook Competition. Ricky was born in Calgary, grew up in Toronto, Canada and moved to Israel in 1972.
Dolly Reisman is a writer and sometime producer. Her short fiction has been published in theMaple Tree Literary Supplement, and her short story “Doba” was anthologized in TOK: Writing the New Toronto - Book 2. Her haiku “Found Youth”won second prize in Diaspora Dialogues’ LitToronto Map contest. Her play, A Different Man, about Albert Speer, was produced in 2008 in New Zealand. Dolly lives in Toronto.
Guillermo Saccomanno (the author) was born in Buenos Aires in 1948. Before becoming a novelist, he worked as a copy writer in the advertising industry and as a script writer for cartoons and other films. Saccomanno is a prolific writer, with numerous novels and short story collections to his credit. He has won many literary awards, including the Premio Nacional de Literatura, Seix Barral’s Premio Biblioteca Breve de Novela, the Rodolfo Walsh Prize for non-fiction, and two Dashiell Hammett Prizes (one for Camara Gesell in 2012). Gesell Dome is the first book of his to be published in English.
Yael Samuel is the author of “Meredith Monk: Between Time and Timelessness in Book of Days” featured in Nashim: Jewish Women in the Visual Arts. She presented conference papers “Staging the Homemade, the Ready-made and Unpaid in Guy Ben-Ner’s Stealing Beauty,” “Reclaiming Women’s Bodies: Wangechi Mutu and the Aesthetics of Violence,” and “Ambiguity of Place: Domesticating Identity in the Postexilic Narrative of Mona Hatoum.” She was editor at Edition Jacob Samuel, including publications by Marina Abramovic’, Miroslaw Balka, Chris Burden, Dan Graham, Guillermo Kuitca, Meredith Monk, Gabriel Orozco, and Andrea Zittel. She is currently design associate at On Green Dolphin Street and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
Gabriel Saul was born and raised in a small kibbutz in the north of Israel, the son of Mexican Jewish immigrants. He has lived in New York where he studied Creative Writing and Communication in Hunter College. He has a BA in English Language and Literature from Haifa University in Israel. He currently resides in Sydney, Australia. Apart from a couple of college magazines this is his first publication. 
Nava Semel, born in Israel in 1954, is the author of sixteen books, including Becoming Gershona, winner of the 1990 National Jewish Book Award; Flying Lessons, a cross-over novel, published in 1995 and chosen as one of the best young adults novels in Germany; and her most acclaimed novel, And the Rat Laughed, published in Hebrew in 2001, and in English in 2008. Semel also writes plays, opera libretti, poetry, and screenplays. Her works have been translated into many languages and published in many countries. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Noa Silver was born in Israel, and grew up between Scotland and Maine. She received her BA in English from Harvard University. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, and working on her first novel.
Adina Siperman's writing can be found The Jerusalem Post, The Canadian Jewish News, Poetica Magazine, Heeb Magazine, Women in Judaism: An Multidisciplinary Journal, Pavilion Magazine, and other publications. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include the memoir On Borrowed Words (2002), The Disappearance: A Novella and Stories (2006), the graphic novel El Iluminado (2012), and the fotonovela Once @ 9:53 am (2016). He is the publisher of Restless Books.
Gadi Taub, born in Jerusalem in 1965, holds a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University, and teaches at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Communications at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also writes an op-ed column for Israel's largest daily,Yedioth Ahronoth, appears regularly on Channel 10 TV's political talk show, and is a frequent contributor to American and European newspapers. Taub has published fiction, non-fiction and a number of children's books. His book, The Settlers and the Struggle Over the Meaning of Zionism was published by Yale University Press in 2010. A TV series based on his Bestselling novel Allenby Street was a hit on Israeli TV in 2012, and was nominated for Best TV Drama, and Best TV Screenplay at the prestigious FIPA Festival in Biarritz 2013. Taub has received the Ze'ev Prize (2000), the Publishers Association's Gold Prize three for three of his books (2008; 2009) and the Publishers Association's Platinum Prize for Allenby (2013).
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of four books of poetry, Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyresUncle FeygeleWhat Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn, and The Insatiable Psalm.  Tsugreytndik zikh tsu tantsn: naye Yidishe lider/Preparing to Dance: New Yiddish songs, a CD of nine of his Yiddish poems set to music, was released in 2014.  He was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award.  Please visit his website at www.yataub.net.
Robin Vigfusson is a wife and mother who lives in New Jersey. She earned an M.A. in Political Science from NYU, but her real love is fiction, especially short stories. Her work has appeared inThe Blue Hour, Referential Magazine, and and podcast on No Extra Words. Her stories will also be featured in Caravel Literary Journal and Bookends Review.
Joseph Weiner is a businessman whose career has stretched from the automotive and mortgage industries to teaching as an apprentice Professional Golf Association of America member. He was, for a time, raised in a small town and felt the sting of antisemitic behavior and religious bias, which shapes many of the stories he has written over the past twenty years. Seeking a career change that would focus more on his interest in writing, Mr. Weiner went back to school in his late 40s to finish his B.S. in English, and he is now pursuing an M.F.A in writing. Today he is a business consultant, writer and editor for the U.S. government. 
S.L. Wisenberg is the author of a story collection, The Sweetheart Is In, an essay collection,Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions and a nonfiction chronicle, The Adventures of Cancer Bitch. She is a third-generation native Texan who has lived in Chicago most of her adult life. She works as a writing coach and editor. Wisenberg is working on a personal essay collection about the U.S. South and race. She blogs at Cancer Bitch and tweets from @SLwisenberg. Grants/awards: Pushcart, National Endowment for the Humanities, Illinois Arts Council, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.


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