Jewish Storytelling Coalition

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Palace of Pearls: The Stories of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav by Howard Schwartz!

to Howard Schwartz from the JSC and all his admirers! 
We are thrilled and can't wait to read your new book!

With utmost reverence and unfettered delight, Schwartz has carefully curated A Palace of Pearls alongside masterful commentary that guides the reader through the Rabbi's spiritual mysticism and uniquely Kabbalistic approach, ultimately revealing Rabbi Nachman to be a literary heavyweight in the vein of Gogol and Kafka. (amazon)

Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) is widely considered to be one of the foremost visionary storytellers of the Hasidic movement. The great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of the movement, Rabbi Nachman came to be regarded as a great figure and leader in his own right, guiding his followers on a spiritual path inspired by Kabbalah. In the last four years of his life he turned to storytelling, crafting highly imaginative, allegorical tales for his Hasidim. Three-time National Jewish Book Award winner Howard Schwartz has masterfully compiled the most extensive collection of Nachman's stories available in English. In addition to the well-known Thirteen Tales, including "The Lost Princess" and "The Seven Beggars," Schwartz has included over one hundred narratives in the various genres of fairy tales, fables, parables, dreams, and folktales, many of them previously unknown or believed lost. One such story is the carefully guarded "Tale of the Bread," which was never intended to be written down and was only to be shared with those Bratslavers who could be trusted not to reveal it. Eventually recorded by Rabbi Nachman's scribe, the tale has maintained its mythical status as a "hidden story." 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

News from our Judith Black !

Judith's taken on an additional role in her storied storytelling career. Congratulations, Judith!! Here's her message to all:

Would you like to learn and tell stories while deepening your spiritual practice?  MAGGID-EDUCATOR TRAINING is a unique, powerful, and eminently useful training for educators, rabbis, cantors, gabbais, and anyone in the community who wants to deepen their spiritual connection to mitzvot, text, curriculum, and tikun olam through story and storytelling. 

The Maggid-Educator Training Program of the Institute for Jewish Spiritual Education, reclaims the traditional role of maggid as a master educator who inspires and guides the Jewish journeys of students of all ages.  Trainees in a two or three year program become professional sacred storytellers who educate and guide.  Peninnah Schram, an original faculty member, has stepped into new roles and Judith Black, along with Cherie Karo Schwartz are now the storytelling faculty among a brilliant community of creative artists, religious educators, and spiritual practitioners.

For more information about this program:  914-500-5696

and that's not all....check out Judith's exceptional TED talk. She's invited us to view:

When you have 17 minutes to contemplate how storytelling and the fate of our planet as a host for our species are intertwined, go and view Judith Black’s TED Talk:  

Storytelling and Climate Disruption: An Antidote To Despair

Friday, January 5, 2018

JSC Member Susan Stone shares her recent experience in Lublin, Poland. Thanks, Susan!

Justice Speaks:  Bringing Jewish Stories Back to Poland
By Susan Stone
 I felt no peace really.   How could there be a feeling of peace?  On that soil?
 The joy I felt being asked to participate in the storytelling festival in Poland was constantly interrupted by murmurings in the cobblestones; by vibrations in the old facades:  "We were here…we lived",  the old stones said.  “Say Kaddish for us.  There is no one else left to say it.”
  was invited to perform at a storytelling festival in Lublin, Poland, June, 2017,  at an amazing theatre/museum called TeatreNN  Grodzka Gate  .My program, "Bringing the Stories Home:  Jewish Tales From Poland" was translated from English into Polish  on a screen.  This is  a whole museum/theatre dedicated to stories. The entrance to the TeatreNN is at the Grodzka Gate, the Jewish gate.  On the other side,  the Jewish quarter (now parking lots ) of Lublin, over 30,000 Jews before WWII; a famous Yeshiva.
 There were storytellers from Italy, France, Poland and Spain...and me.  We shared stories in the theatre for four nights.   My stories, literary and from the Chasidic, and folkloric tradition, also included  stories about my experiences traveling around three years prior with a driver, visiting  the towns mentioned in  the stories.  It was important to me to make these Jewish-empty places vital—living, if only for a moment. I would say,  “Here is a story of the Seer of Lublin, buried just a mile from here”.  Or, “In Chelm, about 90 minutes from here, there lived…..”.
 What stories would resonate with a Polish audience. Would my choices (for over an hour’s worth of tales) be too esoteric? Too spiritual?  Too political?  Would  the audience respond to a Holocaust story with feelings of guilt, and stop listening with open hearts? 
 Almost every story I told was from a town close to Lublin.  When I said the Yiddish name of a town I always told  the  modern Polish equivalent  so my audience would feel the proximity of the perished world. It was important to me to say, through my tales, “Jews lived here.  Here are stories of wise rabbis; of compassion, generosity, and mysticism. This is what Yiddish sounds like.   Look what Poland lost; look what the world lost.  Remember…but open your hearts to the messages, sent through time and space from a forgotten world..

.I wanted my stories to be filled with ways in which we have to make the world a better place through tales of  lovingkindness, and self reflection; This plan, I hoped, would not only entertain (for of course without this  who will even listen?) but inspire listeners to go out and practice tikkun olam (repair of the world).
 All of you reading this are activists in some way…through  community work or just by bringing joy, laughter,  and understanding into the world through performance. But in the end each of us can bring about repair in the world while still  looking towards repair of our own brokenness too.  

The people who started this museum and  those who work there,  are not Jewish.I know this work brings them peace.  Because they collect stories, because of their quest for justice, to me they are holy people.  At the front of the museum they have this sign:  
 Decades have passed since the time of the Holocaust.  As after every apocalypse, a few things left: souvenirs, photos, documents.  The only thing we can do, is to look into the vastness of cold history for individual fates and events, and tell their story.

Monday, December 4, 2017


The Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) has just received a magnificent recognition to be included in the "Memory of the World" Register from UNESCO.

Folklorist/Author Yoel Perez writes:
The IFA was recognized by UNESCO as an international tradition site. It is a great honor and a good sign for the future. Here is the link so everyone can read about this well-deserved honor:

The IFA was founded by the distinguished folklorist Dov Noy in 1955 and now has collected over 21,000 folktales from the various ethnic communities in Israel. The IFA is housed at the Haifa University where the folktales are classified according to tale types and motifs. It was the work and passion of Dov Noy, through his creation of these Israel Folktale Archives, that successfully put Jewish folktales on the world folklore map!

 Dov Noy's name and legacy have been blessings for us all. We all wish that Dov could be with us to enjoy this world recognition.

Israel Folktale Archives

Documentary heritage submitted by Israel and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.
The Israel Folktale Archives (IFA), named in honor of its founder Prof. Dov Noy, is a unique, rich collection of more than 21,000 folk tales, based on Jewish oral tradition and Israeli folk narratives, and collected from more than 5,000 narrators from 70 ethnic groups in several languages, with documents dating from 1956 to 1999. The IFA folktale collection capture the essential features of various cultures: including the customs, beliefs, norms and values of Jewish immigrants from around the world, as they were shaped over the hundreds of years spent in the Diaspora, as well as the folk narratives of other ethnic groups currently living in Israel, including Bedouin, Christian, Muslim and Druze, in an attempt to encourage an open dialogue between the diverse cultures and ethnicities in Israel. The collection was completed after the large waves of immigration from Ethiopia and the USSR. Following this period, the digitization process of the collection began, Which includes typing, scanning, indexing the stories and rendering them accessible. In order to transform the collection into an international asset, an archive website was also created, to provide researchers and critics from all over the world with access to the collection. 

Folklorist and Author/Storyteller Barbara Rush writes:

Dov Noy loved people-and he truly believed that every person is his or her own story.  So he set out to collect and preserve them.Today the IFA is a unique and invaluable resource for people worldwide, layman and academic alike, to gain insight into the hearts and minds of the Jewish people,  Because of Prof. Noy's work, the value of story, as a reflection of the human condition, has been established---and will live on.

 Storyteller and Author Cherie Karo Schwartz writes:

The Israel Folktale Archives is the single most important index of stories in the world. The Jewish tales cross boundaries of religion, ethnicity, time and place to form an ageless, timeless treasure trove of tales. The stories are an invaluable resource for storytellers, educators, rabbis, and anyone working with the diverse Jewish worldwide cultures. By the careful cross-referencing of tale types and motifs, they form a unique and enriching bridge to all of the cultures and places in which the People of the Book (The People of the Story!) have lived and shared stories. I am blessed by and rely upon these stories for inspiration, source material, and tales to tell with audiences of all ages and backgrounds, as do storytellers worldwide.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Doug Lipman receives the 
NSN Lifetime Achievement Award!

Congratulations!! We share your nachus.  
May you go from strength to strength!

In case you missed the NSN Conference this summer, here's an opportunity to view the video and read the acceptance speech. We are so proud of our JSC members!!
Peninnah's letter of gratitude

October 24, 2017

My dear wonderful storytellers-friends with whom I am heart-dancing,

Let me tell you a story: Once three devoted students were observing their great scholar-rabbi deep in study. Each student tried to outdo his friends by offering flattering boasts and praises about the rabbi's virtues as a scholar like Akiva, as a patient man like Hillel, and as a generous man always with an open hand.
        Slowly, the rabbi lifted his head and asked his students, "And from my modesty you say nothing?"

That's how I felt after reading all your magnificent and creative letters in support of my receiving the NSN 2017 "Oracle Talking Leaves Award". As you know, Anne was not only the head of this Award Committee, but also initiated the idea of compiling a treasured gift for me by soliciting Letters of Congratulations from so many of my dear friends in our Storytelling world! Anne, thank you for the idea and taking the time and attention to send me this loose-leaf binder with all of these letters, including the splendiferous Nomination Letter by Caren Neile and the splendid Letters of Support! I am not exaggerating!

To tell you the truth, when this book first arrived in the mail, I was totally shocked/surprised since not one of you let me 'in' on this secret gift. Really!!!! Did you not even whisper it to a blade of grass that might have reached me - even from the sidewalks of NYC?

Then when I started reading the letters, I couldn't do it except for skimming them. It was all too exciting - as my heart started doing the jive beat - and I felt the praise was so magnified that I couldn't find what you wrote to be credible to myself. My head grew bigger and soon I had to spend a lot of money on a 'new enlarged hat'. Really! And I had to put the book away on a side table.

A few weeks passed - and then I "screwed my courage to the wall" (is that a correct quote?) and - if I were a drinking person I would have had a few shots of scotch first - and opened the book while I sat comfortably at the table and took a big slow breath. Of course, I wanted to read these letters that all of you had written so lovingly, so thoughtfully and so beautifully! I found that each letter is a gem - perhaps I can say a "pearl" (since Peninnah means "pearl" in Hebrew). As I read through the book slowly and mindfully, I wept with gratitude and laughed with joy! I spoke aloud to each one of you as I read your letter.

Thank You, dear Caren, for thinking to nominate me for this distinguished "Talking Leaves Award"! Thanks to the three Supporters, Dan, Carol and Melissa! Thank you, my heart-friend Cherie for Introducing me at the conference - then shifting to the Acceptance Speech microphone - and reading my Acceptance Speech so expressively - and with good humor! Thank you EVERYONE!

I am blessed to have all of your friendships in my life!