Jewish Writers' Seminar: Writing for Adult Readers

Have you written a book on Jewish themes that you'd like to have published? Do you have a story idea? Have you published a few books already, and would like to meet more people in the field? The Jewish Authors' Seminar, sponsored by Jewish Book Council, brings together agents, editors, publicists, published authors, and others for a full day of discussions about Jewish book publishing. Learn strategies and tips, get suggestions, and meet peers!

The 2017 Jewish Writers' Seminar will be held Sunday, December 3 in New York City. They will be held at the JBC offices, which is at 520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018. Registration opens at 9:30AM and the program will begin at 10:00AM. The program will conclude at 4:30PM.

Well Published Rabbi


This year, we will be featuring a special track for rabbis interested in publishing a book and learning more about the industry. Please indicate your interest in this track on the form below and you will be sent additional information about the break-out sessions for the track. Sessions will include publishing executives who have published rabbis, rabbis who have published books, and a workshop on writing a book proposal. The rabbi track participants will join for the general program until 2:30PM, when they will have two sessions dedicated to authors on this track. Panelists will include author and writing coach Beth Kissileff and Jewish Publication Society's director Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz and Moshe Rosenberg, the author of The Unofficial Hogwarts Haggadah and a book on Morality for Muggles. He is also a congregational rabbi in Queens and classroom teacher and technology maven/specialist at the SAR Academy in Riverdale.

Seminar Fees:
          $145.00 Early Registration for all sessions and catered lunch, due October 31st.
          $160.00 Standard Registration for all sessions and catered lunch, due November 27th (late fees will apply starting November 28th).
  $150.00 Rabbi Track Registration, includes several sessions with main group along with special sessions for rabbis + catered lunch. Due November 27th (late fees will apply starting November 28th).

Don't miss this opportunity to meet with publicists, editors, agents, established authors, and literary critics about publishing your work. Space is limited, so please register early to secure your spot! 

*The full list of 2017 presenters will be available soon, so please check back for updates to the presenter list. The current list can be found here.*

Registration Options

2017 Seminar Presenters

The 19th Annual Jewish Writers Seminar will feature the following presenters, plus many more!

General track presenters include:

  • Sara Nelson, VP and Executive Editor at HarperCollins.
  • Daniella Wexler, Associate Editor at Atria Books
  • Ileene Smith, VP and Executive Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Phil Getz, Senior Editor at Palgrave Macmillan
  • Ruby Namdar, author of the Sapir Prize winner, The Ruined House
  • Sofia Gropman, Associate Editor at HarperCollins Publishers
  • Jennifer Murphy, Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins
  • Jordan Rodman, Publicity Manager, Alfred A. Knopf & Pantheon, Penguin Random House
  • Moshe Schulman, Publicity Manager at Debartlo & Co. and the Director of PR/Managing Partner of Ruffian Wine Bar & Chefs Table in the East Village.
  • Steven Boriack, Publicity Manager at Flatiron Books
  • David Forrer, Literary Agent at Inkwell Management
  • Josh Getzler, Literary Agent at HSG Agency
  • Sarah Levitt, Literary Agent at Aevitas Creative Management
  • Erika Dreifus, a New York-based writer and book publicist

  • Past Seminar Presenters

    Learn about the speakers from the previous Jewish Writers & Illustrators' Seminars below.

    2016 Seminar Panelists and Presenters

    Keynote Address - Brenda Janowitz: Creating Characters That Jump Off the Page

    Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, PopSugar, Long Island Woman Magazine, and other publications.


    Devorah Backman is a graduate of Stern College at Yeshiva University, where she majored in English with a concentration in journalism. She is currently the publicity and marketing manager at Countryman Press, an imprint of W. W. Norton & Company which focuses on lifestyle, cooking, how-to, and wellness titles.

    Aaron Berkowitz earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is an educator for the CUNY Start Program at Bronx Community College. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Jewish Literary Journal.


    Joshua Ellison is the author, with Ilan Stavans, of Reclaiming Travel (Duke University Press, 2015). Before founding Restless Books, he was the founding editor of Habitus, an international journal of Diaspora culture and literature. Library Journalcommended the magazine’s “exemplary creative and journalistic work.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, World Policy Journal, on National Public Radio, and in publications from Belfast to Beijing. He has curated events and delivered lectures at the New York Public Library, Harvard University, Princeton University, The PEN World Voices Festival, The Museum of Jewish History, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and other venues. As a photographer, writer, and editor, he had worked in Israel, Bosnia, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, and Germany.

    David Forrer began his career in publishing in 1997 after receiving a Masters in Creative Writing (fiction) from Boston University. He has been an agent with InkWell Management since it was created in 2004. His areas of interest and representation range from literary, commercial, historical and crime fiction to suspense/thriller, humorous non-fiction and popular history.

    Steven Pfau is an Associate Publicist at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where he's been since 2014. He's worked on national media campaigns and book tours for Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, and many others.


    Philip Getz is a senior editor at Palgrave Macmillan specializing in philosophy and religion.


    Josh Getzler left Harcourt in 1993 to get an MBA from Columbia Business School. After Business School, Josh spent 11 years owning and operating a minor league baseball team (the Staten Island Yankees). He left baseball in late 2006 and rejoined the book world on the agent side. Josh worked at Writers House until November 2009, building a list of adult novelists, YA and middle grade authors, and the occasional nonfiction writer; then joined Russell and Volkening. In May 2011 he partnered with Carrie Hannigan and Jesseca Salky, and has been actively and happily running his list of over 40 authors at HSG Agency.

    Paul Goldberg first heard a Moscow version of the myth about Jews using blood for religious rituals when he was ten, in 1969. By the time he immigrated to the United States in 1973, he had collected the Moscow stories that underpin The Yid. The editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, a publication focused on the business and politics of cancer, Goldberg has written two books about the Soviet human rights movement and co-authored How We Do Harm, an exposé of the American healthcare system.

    With over 20 years of experience at Random House and her own PR firm, Rachel Tarlow Gul is an expert on book publicity, including the promotion of Jewish authors and books. Rachel began her publishing career at the Ballantine Books division of Random House and in 2000, she co-founded Over the River Public Relations (OTRPR), a PR firm specializing in promoting books, authors and publishing initiatives. She has been instrumental in launching new independent publishers, including Mandel Vilar Press and has spearheaded the publicity efforts for its lists. Rachel has also managed major media campaigns for the authors in Nextbook and Schocken’s Jewish Encounters Series, including the acclaimed poet, David Lehman; cultural critic Adam Kirsch; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, David Mamet. She has also worked with many Jewish authors including The New York Times bestselling mystery writer, Sara Paretsky (Critical Mass), critically acclaimed nonfiction author, Ann Kirschner (Sala’s Gift and Lady at the OK Corral), renowned kosher cookbook author, Helen Nash (Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine) and the award-winning literary fiction author, Jay Neugeboren (The American Sun & Moon Moving Picture Company and most recently Max Baer and the Star of David).

    Dan Mandel represents both literary and commercial fiction, as well as memoirs and non-fiction about business, art, history, politics, sports, and popular culture. His clients write for The Economist, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, and the books he has represented have been New York Times bestsellers, selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Program, long-listed for the Orange Prize, and short-listed for the Man Booker. He attended the Jerusalem Book Fair as an Agent Fellow in 2005. A graduate of Cornell University, he interned at The New Yorker and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course before joining Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc. in 1994.

    James Meader has worked at Picador since 2002. He is currently Executive Director of Publicity and also acquires and edits a handful of titles each year. A native of Maine, he studied comparative literature and Mandarin Chinese at Middlebury College in Vermont before moving to New York.


    Jordan Rodman is a Senior Publicist at Penguin Random House. She works for the imprints Knopf, Pantheon and Shocken. Jordan graduated from Emory University in 2013, and was an English major. She is from Newton, MA and loves reading, writing, and meerkats.


    Daniella Wexler is an associate editor at Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her focus is on upmarket fiction and memoir.


    2015 Seminar Panelists and Presenters



    Craft vs. Indulgence:
    Finessing the Memoir Form Beyond Telling Your Story

    Keynote Address by Shulem Deen

    Shulem Deen is a former Skverer Hasid and the author of the memoir All Who Go Do Not Return. His work has appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet, and Salon. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


    Sigal Samuel is an award-winning fiction writer, journalist, essayist, and playwright. Currently a writer and editor for the Jewish Daily Forward, she has also published work in the Daily Beast, the Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and the Walrus. Her six plays have been produced in theaters from Vancouver to New York. Originally from Montreal, Sigal now lives and writes in Brooklyn. The Mystics of Mile End is her first novel.

    Emily Homonoff is a graduate of Hampshire College (‘09F), having concentrated in the relationship between popular culture and social movements. Born and raised in Rhode Island, she now lives in New York City, where she works as a publicist at William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

    Alieza Schvimer is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (Class of 2014), where she majored in English Literature and minored in Writing and Psychology. Originally from Evanston, Illinois (home of Mean Girls and the Cusacks), she now lives in New York City, right next to the lovely Riverside Park. She is an Assistant Editor on the Creative Development Team at HarperCollins, where she works primarily on platform-driven and narrative nonfiction, but also loves a great novel with strong and meaningful characters.

    Kathy Daneman has worked in publishing for more than 17 years, most notably at literary powerhouse Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the liberal non-profit Beacon Press. Kathy began her career at Beacon Press, where she had the honor of working with Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers, and former Black Panther Elaine Brown. The books she handled at FSG include Role Models by John Waters, The Ask and The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, Lowboy by John Wray, andBy Nightfall by Michael Cunningham. She served as Director of Programs and Strategic Communications for the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, and currently runs Kathy Daneman Public Relations.


    Jordan Rodman graduated from Emory University in 2013 and is currently an Associate Publicist at Alfred A. Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken Books at Penguin Random House. She is originally from Newton, Massachusetts and lives in New York City.


    Nathan Rostron oversees Marketing, Publicity, Sales, and Distribution for Restless Books. Previously, as an online editor, he helped to launch Bookish, an innovative book discovery website for readers. Prior to that, as a book editor at Little, Brown and Company, he edited several award winners and New York Times bestsellers. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Nathan holds a Masters in English and Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA in English from Pomona College.

    Rachel Tarlow Gul has over 20 years’ experience in book publicity, beginning at the Ballantine Books division of Random House before co-founding Over the River Public Relations (OTRPR), a PR firm specializing in promoting books, authors, and publishing initiatives in 2000. She was instrumental in launching Mandel Vilar Press, an independent publisher, and has spearheaded the publicity efforts for its lists. Rachel has also managed major media campaigns for the authors in Nextbook and Schocken’s Jewish Encounters Series, including the acclaimed poet, David Lehman; cultural critic Adam Kirsch; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, David Mamet. She has also worked with many Jewish authors including The New York Times bestselling mystery writer Sara Paretsky, critically acclaimed nonfiction author Ann Kirschner (Sala’s Gift and Lady at the OK Corral), renowned kosher cookbook author Helen Nash (Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine) and award-winning literary fiction author Jay Neugeboren. For more information about Rachel and OTRPR, please visit http://www.overtheriverpr.com.

    Josh Getzler left Harcourt in 1993 to get an MBA from Columbia Business School. After Business School, Josh spent 11 years owning and operating a minor league baseball team (the Staten Island Yankees). He left baseball in late 2006 and rejoined the book world on the agent side. Josh worked at Writers House until November 2009, building a list of adult novelists, YA and middle grade authors, and the occasional nonfiction writer; then joined Russell and Volkening. In May 2011 he partnered with Carrie Hannigan and Jesseca Salky, and has been actively and happily running his list of over 40 authors at HSG Agency.

    Lindsay Edgecombe represents a wide range of titles, including narrative nonfiction, memoir, lifestyle and health, illustrated books, and literary fiction. She is drawn to projects with strong narrators, obscure journeys, and political backbones, but she is an eclectic reader and will take on any project that she's passionate about. Lindsay represents journalists, scientists, internationally best-selling novelists as well as debut novelists, New Yorker cartoonists, and bloggers, among many others. She loves to uncover new talent and to work with her clients to develop great proposals from the spark of an idea. Her authors have contributed to NPR's This American Life, written for The New York Times and many other publications, and have been on Oprah and The Daily Show.

    David Forrer began his career in publishing in 1997 after receiving a Masters in Creative Writing (fiction) from Boston University. He has been an agent with InkWell Management since it was created in 2004. His areas of interest and representation range from literary, commercial, historical and crime fiction to suspense/thriller, humorous non-fiction and popular history.


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