Jewish Storytelling Coalition

Friday, March 27, 2020

Storytelling Videos Going up on FaceBook as we speak! Thank you, Cindy!

Many of you have already sent videos to Cindy for our  JSC Facebook page and she has posted these thus far:

Jim Brule, Mark Binder, Lynnie Mirvis and Noa Baum. She has more in the wings and is looking forward the new ones you send. So get busy, Maggidim!! Let's share the healing art of storytelling in these troubled times. Send your video to soon.

Stay safe...sending good vibes and Shabbat Shalom from the Jewish Storytelling Coalition!

Bonnie, Bruce and Cindy

Friday, March 20, 2020

Cindy Rivka Marshall offers to coordinate a fabulous JSC story sharing opportunity!

To view video of a story for children about helping and sharing with each other while surviving extraordinary times - this is Cindy Rivka Marshall's version of Noah's Ark. (9 minutes, appropriate for young kids and young at heart) 

Check out the Jewish Storytelling Coalition facebook page here: where we will be posting story videos by our JSC professional storytellers to be enjoyed and shared widely.

(Storytellers are encouraged to send a link to a good quality video, along with title, source, and what ages it is good for. Send to cindy(at) and she will post on our facebook page.) 


Monday, February 10, 2020

Robin Bady! For those in NYC in Feb/Mar: check it OUT!

Robin Bady presents:

FRIGID New York Festival Presents
BADYHouseStorytellingConcerts production:
Nancy Drewinsky and the Search for the Missing Letter
Written by: Robin Bady
Directed by: Loren Niemi

February 17th - March 7th, 2019
WED, FEB 19 @ 5:30 || SAT, FEB 22 @ 6:40 || WED, FEB 26 @ 7:10 
|| FRI, FEB 28 @ 5:10 || SUN, MAR 8 @ 12:10
Ticket Price: $15.00

Kraine Theater, 85 E 4th St. between 2nd Ave and the Bowery

In 1960, 9-year-old Robin Bady wrote a pitch letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover detailing her qualifications as the next Eliot Ness.

The pint-size Untouchable got a reply from Hoover himself that shot down her aspirations faster than you could say. “G-Man.”

"As you already know, only men can be Special Agents,” Hoover wrote back. “But women can be clerks or secretaries.”

But here’s where the mystery deepens. Unbeknownst to young Bady, for two and a half years, the FBI—under the aegis of Hoover—had been terrorizing her father, Isidore Bady, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy branded him—along with more than 40 other Jewish scientists working for the Army Signal Corps at Ft. Monmouth—as a Communist spy.

This was in 1953, a scant few months after Julius Rosenberg, who had worked at Ft. Monmouth, and and his wife Ethel Rosenberg were executed for a similar crime.

Now, Bady is unraveling the mystery of what happened to her father, why it happened, and how the fall-out lingered over her family ... while she seeks a mysteriously missing letter that informed her father that he was, finally, exonerated from all charges.

Nancy Drewinsky is one daughter’s fearless investigation into her family's past in order to make sense of the present. Bady’s account of that not that-long-ago time is deeply personal, uniquely compelling, and in this era of "witch hunts" and anti-Semitism rings an uneasy bell of recognition today.

WHO: Written and performed by award-winning storyteller Robin Bady.
WHAT: FRIGID New York Festival
WHEN: WED, FEB 19 @ 5:30 || SAT, FEB 22 @ 6:40 || WED, FEB 26 @ 7:10 || FRI, FEB 28 @ 5:10 || SUN, MAR 8 @ 12:10. 
Tickets are available at
WHERE: Kraine Theater, 85 E 4th St. between 2nd Ave and the Bowery
WHY: Because 1953 isn’t as long ago as you think


Monday, December 30, 2019

Great way to start 2020! Happy New Year. Congratulations, Howard and Peninnah!!

Home » Books » The Power of a Tale

The Power of a Tale
Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives
Edited by Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg
Here is the link to ORDERING this NEW IFA Book:

Use the CODE :Holiday Sale! Save 40% on every order with coupon code HOL9!

Published: November 2019
ISBN: 9780814342084
Pages: 464 Size: 7x10
Illustrations: 45 black-and-white images        PRICE: $64.99
Published: November 2019
ISBN: 9780814342091
In The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives, editors Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg bring together a collection of fifty-three folktales in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) at the University of Haifa. Established by the folklorist Dov Noy in the 1950s, the IFA is the only archive of its kind in Israel and serves as a center for knowledge and information concerning the cultural heritage of the many ethnic communities in Israel.
For this jubilee volume, contributors each selected a story—the narrators of which vary in ethnic background, education level, gender, and length of time in Israel—from the more than 24,000 preserved in the archives and wrote an accompanying analytic essay. The folk narrative is anchored in tradition, but it is modified and renewed by each narrator as they tell it to assorted audiences and in different performance contexts. The stories they tell encompass a myriad of genres and themes, including mythical tales, demon legends, märchen of various sorts, and personal narratives. Contributors employ diverse approaches to analyze and interpret the stories, such as the classic comparative approach, which looks at tale types, oikotypes, and motifs; formalism, which considers narrative roles and narrative functions; structuralism, which aims to uncover a story’s deep structure and its binary oppositions; and more.
Translated for the first time into English, the stories and accompanying essays are evidence of the lively research being conducted today on folk literature. Scholars and students interested in Jewish folklore and literature will appreciate this diverse collection as well as readers interested in Jewish and Israeli culture.

The above annotation of this volume is from Wayne State University Press as a Press Release. This is additional info by Peninnah Schram.
     This anthology, The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives, includes two American storytellers and authors known to many of the Jewish-American storytelling communities and to the Israeli folklorists at the Israel Folktale Archives: Howard Schwartz and Peninnah Schram. Howard and Peninnah had been invited by the editors to write folkloristic commentary to a story chosen from the IFA tales. 
    Howard Schwartz chose “Death as a Godfather” and Peninnah Schram chose “The King and the Old Woodcutter.”

This volume is a treasure of folktales collected by the IFA from the various ethnic communities in Israel.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Light Publications is pleased to announce the release of Mark Binder latest book, THE MISADVENTURES OF RABBI KIBBITZ AND MRS. CHAIPUL.

It is a brief novel for adults, with no politics, and a lot of smiles*. She owns the restaurant. He’s the wise old rabbi. At their age what could possibly go wrong?
*It’s like rye bread… you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy it.

As you may know, Mark is a well known and prolific Jewish author and storyteller. 
Mark’s audiobook, LOKI RAGNAROK was nominated for an Audie Award for Original Work. In 2016, he won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award for Audio Storytelling. His collection, A CHANUKAH PRESENT was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature.

THE MISADVENTURES is already receiving wonderful notices:

“Village stories that deftly lift a curtain on a world of friendly humor and touching details of Jewish life.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“The Lethal Latkes is not a murder mystery. It concerns some awful-tasting latkes (potato pancakes) and what you might call another Hanukkah miracle: love.” 
– The New York Times
“The Wise Men of Chelm reimagined… Mark Binder’s ‘The Misadventures of Rabbi Kibbitz and Mrs. Chaipul’ will almost certainly make you laugh and might even cause you to shed a tear.”
– Jewish Rhode Island

THE MISADVENTURES… is available in print, ebook and audiobook anywhere these are sold, and of course on Amazon  at

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Howard Schwartz to receive  literary award on October 26, 2019!

Howard Schwartz, the noted poet, essayist, novelist, editor, and expert on Jewish folklore and mythology, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award. The award, which was created in 2014 and is funded by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City, is given “to honor the work of a living local author whose literary achievement has won  national and international acclaim.”
Schwartz will receive the award at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Tradition of Literary Excellence Award ceremony, held on the fifth floor of University City’s city hall, 6801 Delmar Blvd.
Previous recipients of the award have included William Gass, Jane O. Wayne, Patricia McKissack, Michael Castro and Gerald Early.
Schwartz, who was born and raised in University City, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is a three-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the editor of four collections of Jewish folklore. He is also the author of “Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism” (Oxford University Press, 2004), which won the National Jewish Book Award in 2005. He is also the editor of 10 acclaimed children’s books, including “Next Year in Jerusalem” and “The Day the Rabbi Disappeared,” both of which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Aesop Prize in 1994 and 2000, respectively.
His most recent book is “A Palace of Pearls: The Stories of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav” (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Tickets to the Oct. 26 event are $20/person; $35/couple, which covers light refreshments and live music. To reserve tickets, visit: For more details about the event, contact Winnie Sullivan at or 314-447-3888.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Beginning of the Jewish Storytelling Coalition and Its Importance 
by Hanna Bandes Geshelin, (c) 2019 

How was the Jewish Storytelling Coalition started, and why is it important? As I sit at my desk pondering this question, I look out my front window at the hills of the northern Galilee. In the distance I see New Pekiin, the modern section of a village that has had a continuous Jewish presence since the time of the Second Temple. Nearer are wooded hills, a creek and a nature preserve where jackals, wild boars, and other creatures live. On some hilltops nearby are Druze, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab villages as well as tiny Jewish communities. I am just a few kilometers from the Lebanese border in the friendly mountain city of Ma'alot, population around 20,000, where I have a full and rich religious and social life. 

It was my desire to live a Jewish life in a small town that led, oddly enough, to the founding of the Jewish Storytelling Coalition in 1989. I had been living in Brookline, Massachusetts for ten years, and while I had a satisfactory spiritual life I was unhappy living in the city. Living as a Jew in a small community was difficult; I knew this from the seven years I had lived in Idaho and Utah. My isolation in those places drew me back to the Boston area where I had lived twice before. While I had a rich Jewish life in Brookline, I struggled socially. Neither a city sophisticate, urban rebel, nor suburbanite, I had no natural cohort even in the Jewish community. I was discouraged from making aliyah by the Jewish Agency, whose representatives told me that without a degree in social work or nursing I would not find work outside of a big city. Israel was just beginning to emerge from Third World status, and there was no other work for college-educated people in development towns. I was too old and too single to be accepted into a kibbutz or moshav, where membership had strict requirements that I did not meet. 

My desire to live both a Jewish and a small-town life drew me, around 1987, to a conference on rural Jewry held in northern Vermont. Maybe, I thought, I could find a way or a place where I would be more comfortable. I enjoyed the conference, although it offered no answers to my questions. I got a ride back to Brookline with Herman Brown, director of the Boston Workmen's Circle, a Yiddish workers' organization that was trying to find itself in the post-Yiddish labor movement world. In the course of our three-hour ride he learned that I was a Jewish storyteller. Always on the lookout for programming that would draw people to his organization's facility in Brookline, he started brainstorming with me. I was not interested in organizing anything, I just wanted to get out of the city. But Herman didn't give up. He called me every few weeks, asking how my plans for a Jewish storytelling "something" were coming. Finally I caved and agreed to run a conference. 

We set a date in March and I got busy. I had studied storytelling with Doug Lipman in 1986 and attended monthly storytelling get-togethers where some of the other storytellers were also Jewish. I contacted people I knew and started planning. With press releases in the Jewish Advocate, Boston Globe and the Herald, as well as the local storytelling network and the Workmen's Circle mailings, the conference was advertised. I had no idea if anyone would turn up. To my surprise, we had about 40 people that first year. At Herman's urging I set out a sign-up list for people interested in a Jewish storytelling organization. Those people became the founding members of the Jewish Storytelling Coalition and helped me plan and run the conference for the next several years. 

The conference continued to grow and draw interest. Opportunities for storytelling gigs increased; talented storytellers began to grow in the JSC's supportive atmosphere. I married in 1995 and moved away, losing touch with the organization. Because of trouble with my voice I stopped telling stories shortly thereafter. But the organization continued to flourish. 

So why is the Jewish Storytelling Coalition important? It is important because it is a clearinghouse for Jewish storytelling. If you Google "Jewish storytelling," the Jewish Storytelling Coalition's website,, comes up on the first page. It has a national directory of Jewish storytellers and is a primary method of connecting places looking for storytellers with practitioners of the art. The telling of the stories of our people has an importance that we cannot fathom. People who would never sit down at a rabbi's class, people who have never sat in a Hebrew or Jewish Sunday School classroom, may be enthralled by the folktales of our people. And ours, both silly and serious, are teaching tales, not meandering anecdotes that go nowhere. For thousands of years our stories have been an important means of educating our people, of transmitting our history, culture, and values. 

The event that crystallized the importance of Jewish storytelling for me happened later the same summer that I met Herman. I was hired by a Jewish summer camp to tell stories during the Three Weeks, the period between the 17th of Tammuz, when the Romans breached the wall of Jerusalem, and Tisha B'Av, the day of the destruction of the Second Temple and the taking of the Jewish people as slaves to Rome. Our tradition teaches that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred among the Jewish people. Remember the uniquely Jewish punchline, "You're right, and he's also right?" Ours is the only religious tradition where ambiguity in belief is tolerated. On Tisha B'Av we are told to put hatred aside and get along even with those with whom we disagree, because baseless hatred--hatred caused by differences such as those of opinion, rather than by direct acts of violence or violation--is wrong and causes destruction. 

The camp director asked me to come up on a Sunday afternoon to tell traditional stories, including about Tisha B'Av. I rented a car, loaded my sound system, costume and sack supper, and headed north. The drive to the camp took about two hours. When I arrived, I was told that the campers had had their annual tennis tournament that day, so they were tired and ready for a quiet activity. I changed into my costume, took my sound system, and headed with a counselor to the building where I would perform. But we discovered there was no power in the building. A dead squirrel on the ground beneath the chewed supply line told the story. Until an electrician could come there would be no power. It was a hot day; there was no other room big enough for all the campers. The counselor and maintenance man scurried around looking for lanterns and flashlights to illuminate the stage. I would have to project my voice. 

The windowless room was pitch black except for the small lights across the front of the stage, which may have illuminated me but did nothing to dispel the blackness of the hall itself. I heard shuffling as the campers filed in, but it did not sound like the three hundred kids I had been told to expect. How many were in the hall I could not tell. The campers were absolutely silent. Perhaps they fell asleep, I thought. I segued from one story to the next without the applause that usually follows completion of a story, imagining I was speaking to an empty room. When I finished my program there was, again, no applause, just a small amount of rustling that sounded like three rats leaving the building, not a bunch of campers. I felt I had just concluded an exercise in total futility. Two hours up, two hours back, an hour setting up, and getting ready to return home. The expense of the rental car. Wasted. Back in the office, the counselor apologized for my difficulties and handed me payment. "Next year," he said, "after the tournament I think we should just have free time." Yes, I thought, good idea. 

I started for my car. I was grumbling about being laden down with my unused equipment when a boy of perhaps eleven years stepped up. "Can I help you to your car?" he asked. I gladly relinquished my speaker and mic. As we walked, he said, "I really liked that story you told about how stupid hatred between two men caused the destruction of Jerusalem. It made me think. This is my third year at this camp, and there's a boy here I just don't like. I don't even remember why I don't like him, but we have never gotten along. I do stupid things to hurt him, and he does stupid things to hurt me. But it's wrong. I am going to speak to him today and apologize for the things I've done to him. Maybe we won't ever be friends, but it would be really good if we could stop being enemies. I'm going to try." 

One story had hit its mark. The miles home flew by as I considered that one boy had just taken a huge step toward responsible adulthood because he had heard and understood a story from our past. The message of the tragic tale of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza was still resonating 1917 years after it occurred, still helping our young people grow into thoughtful and compassionate Jews. That is the importance of story: people listen for entertainment and, more often than we can know, absorb and grow from the lessons. This is the reason that Jewish tales are important. This is the reason that the Jewish Storytelling Coalition and its directory of Jewish storytellers matter.