Jewish Symposium 2022: An In-Community Experience for Jewish Creatives

October 23 - 26, 2022

This Symposium is currently waitlisted.  If you are interested in attending, but you have not yet registered, you should add your name to the waitlist.  As the workshop gets closer, additional spots may open.  People on the waitlist will have first priority on those open spots.

Note: if you have applied for a scholarship, you will be notified soon.



In-person 4-Day/3-Night In-Community Symposium 

  • This is an in-person symposium for Jewish storytellers and professionals in the children’s book industry.
  • There will be four inspiring and engaging lectures with opportunities for thoughtful discussions about Jewish stories and amplifying stories from the Jewish community.
  • There will be time to work on your own stories, connect with fellow creatives, and retreat.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins with dinner at 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, October 23.
  • Ends after lunch at 1:00pm Eastern on Wednesday, October 26.
  • 24 participants max


Jewish stories reach beyond holidays and the Holocaust, although both are important. Jewish books can be any genre––mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, realistic contemporary, rom coms, and so on! This year’s symposium will continue the ongoing conversation about what makes a book a Jewish book and dig into the idea that “Jewish” is not a genre.

Join Veera Hiranandani, Aden Polydoros, Susan Kusel, and Linda Epstein plus special guests Rena Rossner, Rebecca Podos, and Catriella Freedman to:

  • Engage in conversation about Jewish representation in the landscape of today’s children’s literature industry;
  • Consider the various ways Jewishness shows up in fiction for children and teens;
  • Explore how Jewish children can find themselves in the stories that they read and how non-Jewish children see Jewish characters represented;
  • Find ways that Jewish writers can create community within the children’s book industry.

The heart of the Jewish Symposium is to offer community for Jewish writers and publishing professionals. The program is designed to be an exchange of ideas, a place to connect, and a springboard for diversifying and amplifying Jewish content in literature for children and teens.

There will be inspiring and engaging keynote addresses with follow up round table conversations, faculty panel discussions with Q&A, readings by faculty and participants, and time set aside to write, retreat, and connect with fellow creatives.


  • You are a Jewish writer or Jewish publishing professional interested in engaging in an exchange of ideas about Jewish stories with other Jewish writers and publishing professionals.
PJ Library

We’d like to thank PJ Library for their support of this program.

Registration Notes:

You will be asked to provide a brief bio and outline your goals for taking this program upon registration.

While the Highlights Foundation kitchen is not kosher, we are happy to provide kosher certified packaged meals for anyone who requests this at registration (and/or at least one week prior to the program). During the symposium, meals from our kitchen will be fish or vegetarian-based (no meat products).

You will receive a link to our virtual classroom approximately one week before the symposium where you can introduce yourself to fellow attendees, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and view other pertinent information related to this program.


Tentative Program Schedule:

Day One: Sunday, October 23, 2022
Afternoon & evening

3 – 5pm Eastern:        Arrival

5:30pm Eastern:         Appetizers followed by dinner

7:15pm Eastern:          Opening remarks by Linda Epstein


Day Two: Monday, October 24, 2022

  • Breakfast
  • Morning Session with Aden Polydoros
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Open community time: read, write, connect


  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Session with Veera Hiranandani
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Open community time: read, write, connect
  • In Conversation with Ladino singer-songwriter Sarah Aroeste, hosted by Heidi Rabinowitz


  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Fireside: In Conversation with author/agents Rena Rossner, Rebecca Podos, Linda Epstein, hosted by Heidi Rabinowitz
  • Followed by musical entertainment from Sarah Aroeste


Day Three: Tuesday, October 25, 2022

  • Breakfast
  • Morning Session with Susan Kusel
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Open community time: read, write, connect


  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Session with Catriella Freedman
  • PJ Library/ PJ Our Way Panel and Discussion
  • Open community time: read, write, connect


  • Faculty Readings during extended appetizers
  • Dinner
  • Participant Readings


Day Four: Wednesday, October 26, 2022

  • Breakfast
  • In Conversation with Veera Hiranandani, Aden Polydoros, & Susan Kusel, hosted by Heidi Rabinowitz; Followed by Q & A
  • Roundtable discussions & small group reflections; Followed by a final gathering together as a community
  • Closing comments from Linda Epstein


  • Lunch & Farewells

Following the course you’ll be invited to take part in our Community Office Hours on Mondays at 12pm Eastern, beginning Monday, October 31 through Monday, November 28.


All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation. For more information about attending a workshop or retreat here, visit the Barn at Boyds Mills website.


As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the workshop. We build in breaks and independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.


We will gather together in-community, so that more books will be written and published that provide Jewish children the opportunity to see themselves in books, and so all children can see Jewish people represented in the stories that we read and tell.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission. 

Free Resources for Writers

Video: #HFGather: Sarah Aronson and Agent Linda Epstein Talk Feedback & Process
Podcast: A Conversation with Jane Yolen
Podcast: A Conversation with Sarah Aronson


“This retreat was both a chance to spend hours alone, diving deep into my manuscript, and an opportunity for long conversations — both serious and silly — with other kidlit writers who share the varied experience of being Jewish.”

“Faculty were both incredibly generous with their time and inspiring and informative as experts. And the mix of participants — spanning levels of publishing experience and experiences with Judaism — blended into an egalitarian, no-cliques, supportive, respectful, thoughtful (and often hilarious!) atmosphere that opened the door to thoughtful, often-difficult, and ultimately clarifying conversations. I left with a great sense of community, which I will feel at my back as I move forward, writing *my* stories.”

“The faculty was awesome. I liked that each speaker brought a unique perspective on a facet of the industry.”


Linda Epstein

Linda Epstein is the author of the middle grade novel Repairing the World (Simon & Schuster, 2022) and an agent at…
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Veera Hiranandani

Veera Hiranandani is the award-winning author of several books for young people. Her most recent middle-grade novel, How to Find…
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Susan Kusel

Susan Kusel is an author, synagogue library director, an independent bookstore buyer, and children’s book consultant. She has served on…
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Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros is an author of YA dark fantasy and gothic horror novels. In addition to receiving starred reviews from…
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Rebecca Podos

Special Guest Rebecca Podos’ debut novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES (Balzer + Bray), was a Junior Library Guild Selection…
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Rena Rossner

Special Guest Rena Rossner is a literary agent at The Deborah Harris Agency, based in Jerusalem, Israel. She was born…
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Sarah Aroeste

Special Guest Sarah Aroeste, inspired by her family’s roots in N. Macedonia and Greece, Sarah Aroeste is determined to bring…
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Catriella Freedman

Special Guest Catriella Freedman is currently the Director of PJ Our Way, the next chapter of PJ Library for kids…
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Heidi Rabinowitz

Special Guest Heidi Rabinowitz is the Library Director at Feldman Children’s Library of Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida…
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All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks.

Free shuttle service is available from the local airport, train, and bus station, or you can park on site. Get more logistics information here.

Pay in full or secure your spot with a deposit of $200 and payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

Do you want help finding a workshop or resources that will fit your needs? Talk to one of our ambassadors.

workshop information

Our all-inclusive price means we provide transportation to and from the airport, lodging, all meals, unlimited snacks, and wireless Internet access.