The Conspiracy

Israel Essay Contest Update: New Judge, New Deadline

Essay Contest!

After searching far and wide, we finally found the perfect person to make up our trinity of judges for our inaugural essay contest-Forward editor at large J.J. Goldberg. He brings years of writing experience and a unique perspective on Israel to the panel. A founding member and past secretary general of Kibbutz Gezer outside Tel Aviv and a former sharpshooter with the Israeli Border Police Civil Guard, J.J. intimately knows the land, people, challenges of the Jewish homeland. We’re thrilled to have J.J. on board.

In addition to welcoming J.J. to our judge’s panel we are also announcing that we have extended the deadline for submissions to Friday May 17,2013, 6 pm EST.  All submissions should be emailed to

Scroll down to refresh your memory for official contest rules and the prompt.

The Prompt

We want students to explain how they would finish the following sentence: “The Thing They Don’t Tell You About Israel Is….” In 750-1,000 words, the essay should explore something unexpected you saw, learned, experienced, questioned, etc. on your trip to Israel. Think about ways in which Israel defied your expectations. You might consider some of the following things:

  • What no one told you about Israel (but that perhaps you wish they had)
  • Something that surprised you about the people there (Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis, Palestinians, other students or tourists)
  • Surprising elements of the daily life in Israel that you saw
  • A realization about Israeli art, music, politics and/or pop culture

Your essay should focus on a personal experience of Israel that went beyond what you learned in Sunday school, day school, youth group — and any other formal Jewish educational programs you may have been a part of.

Plus we’re giving away $100, $75 and $50 gift cards to the top three winners.

See below for our FAQs about the contest.

What is the New Voices Israel Essay Contest?   

A new contest for students in grades 8-12 to talk about their experiences in Israel and win a gift card at The winning entries, three prize winners and three honorable mentions, will be published on our website in mid-May. Entries should be between 750-1,000 words.

Who can submit entries?

Anyone enrolled in grades 8-12 who has been on an Israel trip. We do not care whether you went with your family, synagogue, youth group, summer camp or a non-profit group. We are looking for participants interested in writing about their experience in a smart, creative and analytical manner.

What are the prizes?

The top three entries will receive $100, $75 and $50 gift cards at

What is the deadline for submitting my essay?

May 17,2013 at 6p.m. All entries must be submitted to staff writer and contest coordinator Gabe Weinstein, Feel free to email him with any questions.

Who’s judging this thing anyway?

Your essays will be read by the watchful eyes of New Voices editor David A.M. Wilensky, JTA Israel Correspondent (and former New Voices editor) Ben Sales and Forward editor at large J.J. Goldberg.


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