Life Changing Moments Essay Contest

To enter the Listen to a Life Contest, a young person 8-18 years old interviews an older person over 50 years (cannot be a parent; may be a grandparent, older friend, mentor, neighbor, assisted living or long-term care resident, etc.) The young person then writes a 300-word essay (maximum) based on the interview.

Get ready by doing a little reading…

Check the contest rules. You can also read Why Enter?

Read past winning stories to see how to craft an appropriate essay. The judging committee isn't looking for a laundry list of dates and life facts. Rather, they're looking for an evocative, creative story that captures the essence of a person's life, or a critical moment or experience.

Finally, young and old can read and discuss the award-winning book Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes, by Susan V. Bosak. A multilayered story told by a wise old star, it's about hopes and dreams across a lifetime, in the past and into the future. We even have intergenerational activities you can do. The book sets the stage for a great interview.

Do your interview by listening to a grandparent/grandfriend's life story. Learn about their hopes and goals through their life, how they achieved goals and overcame obstacles, or how dreams may have changed along the way. As you're listening, focus in on a significant life experience – it may be big or small, but it has to mean something to the person being interviewed. What life advice can the older person share? The judges are looking for an evocative, creative story that captures the essence of a person's life, or a critical moment or experience.


To help with your interview, we have Life Interview Tips and sample Life Interview Questions (you don't have to use the questions; they're designed to give you ideas and inspiration).

WARNING: Entries MUST be based on an actual interview the young person completes in person, over the phone, or via the Internet with a living older adult. An entry cannot be based on a story the young person has been told by another person or has overheard. It must also be a true, real-life story, not creative fiction. Failure to follow these rules will result in immediate disqualification. Please read all the contest rules.

Now you're ready to write your story – 300 words maximum. Remember, the judging committee isn't looking for the person's whole life story (which is impossible to do in 300 words), but an essay that captures a theme, moment, or experience that's important in the older person's life.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. One entry per team (i.e. young person and grandparent or grandfriend). Entries must be 300 words or less, be a true story about an older person's life, and will be judged by a committee based on the following criteria: 1/3 writing quality, including creative presentation; 1/3 content depth and evocativeness; 1/3 appropriateness to theme, particularly the ability to capture a timeless idea, insight, or theme (big or small) based on real-life experience.

You can submit your completed entry online or by mail/fax. Only receipt of online entries can be acknowledged. Contest closes March 23, 2018.

$10,000 First Place Winner

Aryeh Gurewitz, 22, Lake Worth, Florida. Topic: Getting Past Depression by Getting Past Yourself 

$3,600 Second Place Winner

Yossi Grossbaum, 35, Chabad of Folsom, Folsom, California. Topic: Failure: Key to Success

$500 Third Place Winner (two tied)

Rivka Johnson, 31, Melbourne, Australia. Topic: Chassidic Solution to Overeating 
Mina Gordon, 57, Melbourne, Australia. Topic: Love Your Fellow


Yudit Kasowitz, 28, Brooklyn, New York.  Topic: How to Cope when Life Throws the Unexpected at You

Michal Morgenstern, 34, Haifa, Israel. Topic: Hope in Face of Challenge

Shifi Goldfarb, 21, Maalot, Israel. Topic: A Chassidic Approach to ADHD: Powerful Energies in Small Containers

Chelsea Mika Shar, 25, Johannesburg, South Africa. Topic: Speak What You Mean; Mean What You Speak

Yitzchak Winner, 53, Brooklyn, New York. Topic: Positive Thinking

Yaakov Deutch, 34, Jerusalem, Israel. Topic: דרך כבושה, The Chassidic Addition to Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy

Mendel Rubin, 42, Albany, New York. Topic: Power of Parable

Honorable Mention

Yakov Danishefsky, YU, Jerusalem, Israel. Topic:  The Power of Mystery

Sholom Kesselman, Los Angeles, California. Topic: When Failure Is Really Success

Elchonon Solomon, Morristown, NJ. Topic: Effective Optimism

Dina Hendel, Jerusalem, Israel. Topic: Mending Broken Vessels: Healing Parenting Advice

Sterna Ginsberg, Brooklyn, New York. Topic: Powered by G-d

Zvi Lipchik, Brooklyn, New York. Topic: Against Our Nature, But the Ultimate Pleasure

Sara Spielman, Brooklyn, New York. Topic: Staying the Moment

Yeshayah Marantz, Safed, Israel. Topic: להתחתן כל יום מחדש, Perpetual Marriage

Shneur Zalman Pevzner, Paris, France. Topic:מתוח משתי הקצוות, The Battle Between Matter and Spirit

Chanie Wilhelm, Milford, CT. Topic: Effecting Change


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