What We Do

The Letters Project: Conversing Across Narratives is a letter-writing contest based on Yossi Klein Halevi’s book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor: With an Extensive Epilogue of Palestinian Responses.

Our Fall 2021 Contest will begin on September 1, 2021. The deadline for submitting a letter for this round is December 15, 2021.

The Letters Project, a groundbreaking program developed by The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), addresses the need for an honest and thoughtful reckoning with the dual narratives at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It answers the question our youth are posing: “Why was I never told the Palestinian narrative?”

The program is centered around Yossi Klein Halevi’s book Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor; With an Extensive Epilogue of Palestinian Responses. We chose this book because we feel it is the right tool: dual narratives, readable, combines a love for Israel and empathy for Palestinians and is accessible to an enormous range of readers. The Letters Project creates a meaningful opportunity to explore the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a place of deep and profound Zionism, to find one’s own voice, and to hear different perspectives.

As well, we are welcoming participants beyond the Jewish community. Several high school classes studying this topic have already joined The Letters Project and we welcome more. The Letters Project creates a dynamic space for facilitating dialogue across differences, opening students’ eyes to diverse narratives in history.

 

To be eligible for the contest, the writer:

  1. Must live in the US or its territories or the District of Columbia and be 14 years of age or older.
  2. Read the book. JCRC will reimburse each contest participant for their copy of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor: With an Extensive Epilogue of Palestinian Responses. If you purchase a copy of the book (digital, physical, or audio) in order to participate in the contest, please keep your receipt. You may request reimbursement when you submit your letter.
  3. Write a letter to the author responding to the book and submit the letter here.

Writers will be invited to participate in a virtual conversation with JCRC and Letters participants, to which Yossi Klein Halevi will also be invited.

 

Prompt: Write a letter (500-700 words) to Yossi Klein Halevi from your perspective or choose to write from the imagined perspective of an Israeli or Palestinian individual.

Suggestions to get you thinking:

  • What did you learn from the book?
  • What do you understand in a new way after reading the book?
  • What surprised you?
  • What ideas were challenging for you?
  • What are the most important things you will remember from this book?

We hope that these questions will guide your letter to Yossi. We want to read something unique from your perspective. Reading the book, writing the letter, and engaging in a substantive conversation will be excellent preparation for conversations about Israel you are likely to encounter going forward.

 

Judging Guidelines:

Quality of Writing:
  • Is the submission clearly structured as a letter?
  • Does it have correct spelling and grammar?
  • Does it use good vocabulary and style?• Use of Text:
  • How much does the submission incorporate Yossi Klein Halevi’s book?
  • Is it clear that the entrant read the text?
  • Are references to the book made to support the overall point of the submission?

Creativity:

  • Does the submission make a new and interesting point?
  • Does the submission use elements of Yossi Klein Halevi’s book in order to develop new ideas?
  • Does the submission use the book to inspire the entrant’s own unique perspective?

Insight:

  • Does the submission carefully consider and interpret the content of Yossi Klein Halevi’s book?
  • Does the submission make you think about the book in a new way?
  • Does the entrant use the submission to express an insightful or profound idea?

 

Prizes:

Best Overall $360

Two Excellence in Analysis Awards ($180 each)

 

Please read the contest rules before submitting your letter.

 

For questions about the contest or the submissions process, please contact info@minndakjcrc.org.

The Letters Project premiered in Spring 2020 and is supported by a grant from an Anonymous Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation.

Read our fine print for our winners.