Scholarships Enable 2 Writers to Retreat In-Community at the Jewish Symposium

May 19, 2024 | Jewish Voices, Scholarship Stories

With scholarship support from Hawthornden Foundation and the PJ Library Scholarship, Lisa Cloherty and Ariel Birdoff were able to attend the Jewish Symposium: An In-Community Gathering for Jewish Writers and Illustrators. Lisa says “THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I would never have tried an in-person retreat without this scholarship and I am so grateful that it gave me the push I needed to try something new, put myself out there and grow as a writer.”

Lisa’s Story

Lisa Cloherty is a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and a member of SCBWI, with a degree from the University of Maryland and a Master’s of Science from Northeastern University. Her debut picture book was the SEL-focused Terrance the Hothead: A Book to Manage Big Feelings), which was a finalist for the SCBWI New England Crystal Kite Award and won the 2023 EXCEL association publishing award in Bronze for General Audience Book. Her newly announced forthcoming Jewish themed SEL book, Mabel’s Mitzvah was acquired by Free Spirit Publishing for a 2026 publication. Lisa’s books have been featured in over 10 magazines including Westport Lifestyle, Kirkus Magazine, and the ASHA Leader.  She is on faculty at the Westport Writers Workshop where she teaches workshops on writing for early readers. Lisa lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, and dog Crouton.

She greatly enjoyed the retreat, saying: “It was such a wonderful and meaningful experience. I really enjoyed meeting other Jewish writers/creatives and learning from them. I also loved the Highlights Community experience and would definitely come back again!”

Lisa also completed a full draft of a manuscript (requested by a publisher) while she was on this retreat.

“I learned about the importance of finding a writing community,” she continues. “I also left feeling inspired by the other participants and the faculty. They created such a warm and welcoming environment for everyone.”
Instagram: @lisaclohertybooks
Twitter/X: Cloherty_Lisa

Photo of Lisa Cloherty
Book cover: Terrance the Hothead

Ariel’s Story

Ariel is the author of pop-culture nerdy poetry book: NERD!VERSE as well as almost 13 nonfiction books for children with Bearport Publishing and Bellwether media. She is an elementary school librarian, book reviewer, and compulsive organizer. When she is not color-coding her busy calendar, she can be found making things out of yarn, binge watching television, and reading copious amounts of YA literature. She lives near New York City with her spouse, their twin toddlers, and a whole lot of books. Ariel is the founder and lead singer of the wizard rock band Madam Pince and the Librarians as well as her own nerdcore solo project.

Of the retreat, Ariels says “It was transcendent. I learned more about myself. I became more confident in my writing. I relaxed for the first time in a long time!!! I learned to trust myself and my writing.”

“I have five manuscripts, and now the confidence to do something with them,” she continues. “I also spoke with other librarians and made some changes in my own library based on their suggestions.”
Twitter/X: @/madam_pince
Instagram: @mys_librarian

Photo of Ariel Birdoff
Art piece by Ariel Birdoff

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