Creative Writing Contest 2017 Judges

Toronto, ONTARIO (May 4, 2017) Ve’ahavta, a Jewish charitable social service organization, would like to thank the people who contributed their time to serve as judges for the 16th Annual Words from the Street Creative Writing Contest. 

“The 115 submissions we received this year are incredibly powerful, reflecting the richness, heart and complexity of our city. They are full of passion and hope and are moving illustrations of family and home, perseverance, overcoming adversity and of course, humour. We are proud to once again present this contest for 2017 in association with the Toronto Writers Collective,” says Karen Goldenberg, Ve’ahavta’s Interim CEO.

The contest invites submissions from people across the city whose voices are often unheard, including people who experience homelessness and poverty, youth at risk, women who have experienced abuse, Indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ communities.

Winners will present their work at an awards ceremony which is open to the public on Sunday, June 25, 2017, from 2 to 4 pm at the Toronto Central YMCA, 20 Grosvenor Street. For more information or to RSVP, please email

2017 Judges

Wendy Campbell 
Wendy Campbell is pleased to be part of this literary adventure. Her experience includes running a creative arts program on the inpatient psychiatry unit at Toronto General Hospital and editing an online literary zine at Sheena’s Place. Currently, she contributes a regular column to Moods Magazine and posts a monthly blog, Creative Forces.

Stacey Curtis 
Stacey Curtis is a writer in both the professional and creative realms. She is also a freelance book editor and former managing editor of a literary magazine on Vancouver Island, where she spent some years. She enjoys encouraging creative expression and helping other writers develop.  

Puneet Dutt 
Puneet Dutt holds a M.A. in English from Ryerson University. She is the author of the chapbook PTSD south beach (Grey Borders Books), which was a Finalist for the 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize. Her poetry has been published in journals and in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. She is an editorial board member at Canthius and a creative writing workshop facilitator with the Toronto Writers Collective. Her debut collection of poetry is forthcoming with Mansfield Press in the fall of 2017. She lives in Toronto with her husband.  

Paul Garfinkel 
Paul Garfinkel is currently a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where he was CEO from 1997 to 2009. He is the author and editor of nine books including A Life In Psychiatry: Looking out, Looking in (2015). Dr. Garfinkel has received many honours for his work, including Officer of the Order of Canada.   

Rebecca Ihilchik 
Rebecca Ihilchik holds an M.A. in religion from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in creative writing from York University. Her journalism and short fiction have been published locally and nationally. She works in non-profit communications. 

Jenny Isaacs
Jenny Isaacs is the Director of Heart to Heart, a joint project of Givat Haviva and Hashomer Hatzair-Camp Shomria Canada. Heart to Heart brings together 14 and 15-year-old Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel for a summer program in Canada focused on dialogue and relationship building. Jenny is passionate about creating spaces for unheard or marginalized voices and brings this passion with her into her work in Heart to Heart, as a teacher, and in her role as Co-founder and Coordinator of Base, a downtown pluralistic beit midrash (Jewish learning community). Jenny was the recipient of Ve’ahavta’s Emerging Leader award in 2016.

Jerry Levy 
Jerry Levy is the author of the short story collection Urban Legend, published by Thistledown Press. His stories have appeared in magazines throughout Canada and the U.S., and for the past four years, he has served as a judge in the Writer’s Union of Canada Annual Short Prose Competition. Jerry has a degree in business from Concordia University in Montreal and a TESL Certificate from CCLCS in Toronto. When not working in the corporate world or writing prose, he volunteers teaching immigrants English.  

Sharon List 
An avid and empathic reader, Sharon List is pleased to participate on the judges’ panel for this year’s Creative Writing Contest. A retired educator and superintendent with the York Region District School Board, Sharon has had years of experience reading and responding to the written word in many formats. The focus of her work has been equity of opportunity to have access, to have a voice and to achieve success.  

Jacqueline Markowitz 
Jacqueline Markowitz is a writer and creative producer with a background in film, visual art and advertising. Her first novel, Conversations for Two, was published in 2015 by The Jam Press. She also writes a blog called Recipe for Life Club.

Jonathan Mendelsohn 
Jonathan Mendelsohn is a freelance writer/journalist, a writing consultant, and a professor of English language at York University. He has written book reviews, interviewed world famous authors like The Art of Fielding’s Chad Harbach and covered cultural events such as The New Yorker Festival and Toronto’s International Festival of Authors.

Brenda Zosky Proulx 
Brenda Zosky Proulx is an independent writer, journalist, editor, non-profit volunteer founder and director, and an educator. She is Co-founder of Leave Out Violence (LOVE), one of the leading national youth violence prevention not-for-profit organizations in Canada. She was a feature writer at the Toronto Star where she won a National Newspaper Award, and at the Montreal Gazette, and she is now working on a novel.  

Linda Rosenbaum 
Linda Rosenbaum has written for newspapers, magazines, television and documentary films. She has won a National Magazine Award and a Canada Writes Reader’s Choice Award in the CBC literary competition. The winning story about her son, Wolf Howling at Moon, is excerpted from her recent memoir Not Exactly as Planned. Linda is an advocate for children with FASD. She and her husband, Robin Christmas, live on Toronto Island where they raised their children.  

Eli Rubenstein 
Eli Rubenstein is a Holocaust educator, writer and filmmaker. He is currently the religious leader of Congregation Habonim Toronto, a Toronto synagogue founded by Holocaust survivors. He is also the National Director of March of the Living Canada, Director of Education for March of the Living International, Director of March of Remembrance and Hope Canada and Chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind. 

Dorothy Rusoff 
Dorothy has been a facilitator with Ve’ahavta for the past four years. She has also begun facilitating writing workshops with the Toronto Writers Collective. She also volunteers with the Roots of Empathy program. Dorothy worked at Centennial College in the Recreation and Leisure Services program for 20 years and part time in the Social Service Worker program for 11 years.  

Jodie Shupac 
Jodie Shupac is online editor at The Canadian Jewish News. She lives and writes in Toronto. 

Noemi Weis 
Noemi Weis’s work as a Director, Writer and Producer is guided by a keen sense for compelling storytelling, integrity, and a fearless passion to tackle important human rights issues in an intimate and emotional way. Her socially conscious documentaries continue to gain recognition, awards and distinctions but more importantly, they make a difference by promoting awareness and giving a voice to the voiceless.


Learn more about the 2017 Creative Writing Contest.

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