Jewish Storytelling Coalition

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Robert Rubinstein does TEDx

Robert is a storytelling friend from Oregon. Many of you know him from the CAJE days! Recently, he sent me this you tube of a TEDx talk he was invited to share about empowering students with storytelling. Way to go, ROBERT! Thanks for all the years you taught the troupe and for the legacy you left at Roosevelt!

For those of you with '18 minutes to spare', have a look:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Peninnah Schram: Gathering the Sparks 

Storyteller Donna Washington has blogged beautifully about our Peninnah this week and HERE's where you can read all about it! B'Sha'ah Tovah, Peninna!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Sandy Schuman sends this announcement: See you in London?

The Last Drut’syla? A traditional Jewish storyteller in postwar Europe

  • 17th September 2014
  • 17:30—18:30
  • The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB
Simon Heywood

A Public Lecture by Simon Heywood (Storyteller, Songwriter, Folklorist) and Shonaleigh Cumbers (Drut'syla: Storyteller)

The lecture is free and open to all. To book, call 0207 862 8564 or email
Shonaleigh Cumbers is a drut'syla, a storyteller in a Jewish tradition inherited from her late grandmother, Edith Marks (d.1988), by whom she was trained from childhood. The drut'syla repertoire comprises twelve interlinked cycles, each of several hundred tales. Training also involves a complex system of oral memorisation, visualisation and interpretation (midrash) of tales. Historically, following training, each drut'syla (cf. Yiddish dertseyler, “storyteller”) would act as hereditary storyteller-in-residence to her own immediate community. However, the tradition was uprooted, and came close to extinction, in the mid-twentieth century. Shonaleigh has been active mainly as a professional storyteller to a secular public. By contrast with rabbinical and official Jewish narrative tradition, documentation of the oral drut'syla tradition is sparse, and much about it remains obscure.
This presentation is based on a pilot research project funded by Derby University. It introduces live and recorded examples of Shonaleigh's storytelling, and places them context, giving a general survey of Jewish storytelling, and the place of the female drut'syla within it; a brief biographical notice of Edith Marks, Shonaleigh's mentor; a survey of the drut'syla's repertoire, training and working methods; a closer examination of one or two typical stories, with comparison with other versions of the same tale-type; and indications of directions for future research.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Noa is coming to BOSTON!!!

“A Land Twice Promised”   May 5, 2014

                  Israeli storyteller Noa Baum will be coming to Congregation Dorshei Tzedek,
 60 Highland Street, 
West Newton, MA 
to perform her compelling one-woman show,
 “A Land Twice Promised.” 

                  From  a heartfelt dialogue with a Palestinian neighbor in the United States, Noa has created a moving testimony that illuminates the complex and contradictory history and emotions surrounding Jerusalem, for Israelis and Palestinians alike. She weaves together  the true stories of four women and gives us their voices: a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation as a child and as a university student; an Israeli child who lived through  the 1967 war; a Palestinian mother’s memory of the 1967 war; and an Israeli woman’s experience of the 1948 war and the loss of her brother. 
                  Noa says, “The experience of our compassion in the midst of passionate argument propelled me to create ‘A Land Twice Promised.’ Our conversations reminded me of Gene Knudsen-Hoffman’s words, ‘an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.’ I wanted my listeners to connect with our experience of discovery and common ground so I crafted these stories from our memories.
                  “I tell the human story that stands apart from politics and hope that hearing it will call upon us to listen with compassion without surrendering to prejudice and fear, choose dialogue, and commit to peace.”
                  Scenes from the show can be viewed at and Noa’s web site, with much more information, is
                  This performance will be free and open to the public.  Please invite your friends!  The show is suitable for adults and teen-agers.  It will take place at 7:30 pm, Monday, May 5, in the sanctuary at 60 Highland Street, West Newton, followed by a discussion with Noa. Refreshments will be served. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Share from Sandy Schuman

 Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sister Lillian Harrington's Midrash

In the long, long ago, the Lord God searched for people to be his own.
God went to the Greeks and asked, "What can you do for me if I make you my chosen people?"
"We are gifted architects. We can build beautiful temples where people can come in great nembers from all over the world to worship you."
"Thank you very much," God said, and moved on.
Then the Lord God went to the Romans and said, "What can you do for me if I make you my chosen people?"
"We are great builders of roads and bridges. We will build bridges and roads so that the people can find their way to you."
"Thank you very much," God said, and moved on.
Then God went to the Jewish people and asked, "What can you do for me if I make you my chosen people?"
An old rabbi answered for them. "We are not gifted architects. Neither are we great builders of roads and bridges. What we can do is tell stories."
And God said, "Then you will be my people."
Sister Lillian Harrington, OSB, Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, KS.

This story is quoted in Atchinson Blue, by Judith Valente. I heard it while at the Mount Saviour Monastery, where it was read during dinner and caught my ear. I received a copy of it just yesterday. It differs substantially from the traditional Jewish midrash, Sifre to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:2, which describes God offering the Torah to various nations of the world. Each asked, "What does it say?" To one nation God answered, "Thou shalt not kill." The nation replied, "We can't abide by that." To another nation God responded, "Thou shalt not steal." The nation replied, "We can't follow that rule," and they too rejected the Torah. Finally, God offered the Torah to the people of Israel, who responded, "We will do and we will hear."

Since I am a Jewish storyteller, the story is especially significant to me. I wonder, where did Sister Lillian Harrington find this version? Unfortunately, she died a few days ago, on April 1, 2014, at age 96. May she rest in peace.