Our fabulous speakers
Speakers: Main Sessions
Esther Leah Avner
Esther Leah Avner is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother — and more! — living, learning, and teaching in the greater Jerusalem area as well as her home neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, where she and her husband reside.
She is a Torah lecturer and writer whose work is featured in Binah as well as other publications. Her memoir, Learn, Live, Teach: The Story of a Life, was published by Brand Name Publishing.
Esther Leah feels privileged to have studied under the tutelage of several “greats,” first in Gateshead Seminary, then in the Navardok Yeshiva of France, in addition to her twenty-three years in the community of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l.
Shifra Devorah Witt
Shifrah Devorah Witt, MA, MFA, is the author of From Me to We: A Guide to the First Year of Marriage and Beyond; Inside Secrets to the Craft of Writing; and co-author of The Complete Asian Kosher Cookbook and The Best of Mexican Kosher Cooking.
She teaches popular creative writing workshops, manuscript development, how to get over writer’s block, and writing to heal, online, over the phone, via Skype, and in person in Jerusalem, where she lives with her family. She also coaches writers through the process of writing their ideas into published books.
Yael Mermelstein is an award-winning writer whose work has been chosen by the Ministry of Education for study for the English matriculation exams in Israel. Her stories have been published in national textbooks.
Yael’s children’s book, Izzy the Whiz and Passover McClean was selected for nationwide distribution by PJ Library. Yael writes prolifically for publications, most prolifically for Binah and Hamodia magazines. Yael’s ninth book, Petals, a collection of original as well as previously published fiction and nonfiction, is now available.
Shoshana Schwartz is a multi-genre writer and a multi-genre individual.
The integration of professional writing with her work as a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and addictions counselor at Retorno led to the publication of her latest novel, Three Steps, which appeared in a serialized version in Mishpacha’s Family First magazine.
Chana Levitan, MSc, is an educator, speaker, therapist and author with 25 years of experience. Her book, I Only Want to Get Married Once (Grand Central Publishing, 2013), a best-seller worldwide, is a clear and practical guide to choosing the right marriage partner. Chana’s next book, THAT’S Why I Married You (Gefen Publishing House, 2016), is a practical handbook for couples to not only learn to live with their personality differences but to actually love each other with their differences.
Chana has lectured extensively across the globe and has counseled literally thousands of men and women on dating. She is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, including WCBS 880 and WLS 890.
Sherri Mandell won a National Jewish Book Award in 2004 for her spiritual memoir, The Blessing of a Broken Heart (Toby Press, 2003). Her latest book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press, 2016) details the spiritual stages of resilience.
She and her husband, Seth, direct the Koby Mandell Foundation, founded in honor of her son, who was murdered by terrorists in 2001 at the age of 13. She has been profiled in the New York Times and the work of the foundation has been reported about on NBC, ABC, and CNN and in major newspapers. A certified pastoral counselor, she lectures about resilience and grief around the world.
She is also the author of Writers of the Holocaust (Facts on File, 1999) and has written for numerous magazines and journals. Sherri currently blogs at the Times of Israel. She received Moment Magazine’s prize for best short fiction in 2009 and a Simon Rockower prize for personal essay in 2011. She and her family live in Israel.
Tamar Ansh is a writer, organizer, and speaker; the author of A Taste of Challah; and a recognized expert on baking challah. She speaks and writes extensively about challah , has a website, www.aTasteofChallah.com, and maintains a regular “Challah Bytes” e-mail read by hundreds of women around the world.
Tamar has a regular food column in Hamodia’s Inyan magazine, and has written for Mishpacha, Binah, the Jewish Press, and more.
Tamar does live challah demonstrations and is an inspirational speaker for schools, seminaries, bat mitzvah parties, group challah events, and tour groups both in Israel and abroad. She was the challah leader of the worldwide Shabbos Project Challah Bake in Har Nof, Jerusalem.
She is the director of the JWWS annual seminar, and the JWWS Educational Network which holds ongoing opportunities for writers in Jerusalem.
Esther Heller is the editorial director of Menucha Publishers. She is the author of the novel The Lost Daughter (Targum Press, 2008), and the children’s book The Menorah Under the Sea (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2009), which won a Sydney Taylor Notable Book Award.
Esther leads creative writing workshops and works with writers one-to-one to help them develop their craft and get their writing published.
Sarah Shapiro has worked as a writer and columnist for secular newspapers and Orthodox magazines since 1990.
Her books include Growing With My Children; the 4-volume Our Lives Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Writing; the Judaiscope Anthology Of Home and Heart; A Gift Passed Along, and other titles.
The launch of OurLivesOnline.com, an online literary magazine, is G-d willing scheduled for Elul. Sarah has been giving women’s writing workshops from 1992 until the present. She is currently teaching writing at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.