The Rising Voices Fellowship: Sharing Our Stories
When I was in second grade my tale of Captain Onion won the best story for the grade. Captain Onion was a pirate who fought without cannons, swords or guns—he was a peaceful pirate who conquered crime on the open seas with the weapon of his onion breath. He sailed upon the good ship Jalapeño desperate to clear the violent name of pirates.
Captain Onion marked the beginning of my writing career. While he might have simply been a (slightly malodorous) pirate to some, to me he represented what one could do when they gave their imagination voice. After all, it’s one thing to wander around in your own thoughts—it’s another to put pen to paper. And I’ve learned that sharing your stories with an audience is a whole different experience altogether.
Being a writer isn’t easy. There’s so much behind that statement, I hardly know where to begin. While we might not all be the tortured Hemingway type (though some of us certainly are), we are a different breed. Regardless of how we approach the creative process, without a community of support, things can get dicey. We’re constantly observing, testing phrases in our heads, getting lost in our own worlds, and fighting to be heard. Writers have a responsibility to not only envision a world where pirates fight crime with onion-laced breath, but also to share a piece of ourselves. Writers must capture something that exists only in our minds and put those carefully woven words out there where others can see it, feel it, and understand it.
Since starting at JWA back in March I’ve been given the honor of having a platform for my voice and the responsibility of making that platform available to others. Our blog is a podium for the avowals of the Jewish community; our mission is to raise the voices of Jewish women and girls as we strive towards equality. Our voices are not all the same, nor are our concerns. Our community is vast and surprising. We carry different baggage and varied hopes on our journeys. And the more stories we share, the stronger we are.
It is in the name of Captain Onion that I announce our Rising Voices Fellowship. JWA has joined forces with Prozdor, a pluralistic Hebrew high school program, to launch the pilot year of a fellowship designed for female-identified teens in grades 11 and 12 who are looking to raise their voices. The fellowship will be awarded to 3 to 5 teens who show a passion for writing, a potential for blogging, a demonstrated concern for current events, a commitment to improving their writing skills, and a strong interest in Judaism—particularly as it relates to issues of gender and equality.
The Rising Voices Fellowship will open our blog to a new cohort of writers, as each fellow will craft one blog post a month. And, knowing that it isn’t always the easiest thing to be a writer, the fellowship will provide a community and support. Together we will learn and allow our voices to be heard. Together we will explore our voices, hone our skills, and share our own experiences.
I can’t wait to read the applications, to form a group that can grow together, and to share these voices with our readers. I hope you’re just as excited as I am.