Jewish Storytelling Coalition

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Peninnah receives the 2017 Talking Leaves Award at the NSN Conference in July!

In case you were not able to attend, here are some gems from the conference. 
Below you will find: 
1.Doug Lipman's beautiful tribute to Peninnah that reflects the love of the JSC and so many others.
2.Peninnah's acceptance speech (which was read by Cherie because Peninnah was unable to attend this year's conference...see video.)
3. The link to the video that was taken of the event itself. 
(Wonderful!! Thank you Doug and Pam)

To Peninnah: A tribute story about a Wise Woman by Doug Lipman

Long ago and far away, in a humble village, there lived a wise woman.

She was an artist, but was also wise enough to know that, as important as art is, artists are even more important - for without artists, art dwells only among the dead. So she nurtured other artists the way a river nurtures a valley.

She was a teacher, but was also artist enough to know that the teacher cannot shape another's art - only welcome it. So she encouraged her students to honor each others’ work.

She was a writer, but was also teacher enough to know that she did not own her writings, only borrowed them from the future. So she encouraged others to tell her stories in their own ways.

She was a storyteller, but was also writer enough to preserve living words as flat leaves, that they might live beyond the valley in which they were first spoken. So she encouraged her stories to jump back and forth from mouth to page and back again.

She was a leader, but was also storyteller enough to know that the leader's job wasn't to tell all the stories, but to inspire those around her to tell their own.

She was humble, but was also leader enough to know that heartfelt praise gains its force from the hearts of those giving it.

She was wise, but was also humble enough to allow others the blessing of praising her. So when others praised her, she turned the praise back at them.

She was our mother, but she was also artist enough to praise even us, her children, with words of gold.

Accepting on Peninnah’s behalf is Cherie Karo Schwartz

Folklorist Richard Chase has written about oral storytelling that, “you need to lift the words off the page in order to make them go right.” On the obverse side, the challenge is to write the folktales found in the oral tradition onto the page in a way that makes it possible to be “lifted off the page” so they can be spoken “trippingly on the tongue”.

When I first began retelling-in-writing Jewish folktales, several publishers rejected them because they were written in an “oral style.” In 1995, the Editor-in-Chief at Jason Aronson Publishing, Arthur Kurzweil, proposed that I compile an anthology of Jewish folktales in my voice. My response was, “I’ve already started.” Two years later, my first anthology, Jewish Stories One Generation Tells Another, was published. I am grateful to Arthur Kurzweil for offering me that opportunity to become a storyteller-in-print.

During the process of creating this book, I wanted to add a “Story-behind-the-Story” before each of the 65 stories. This page or two would include the sources, tale type and motifs, background about the story, and what, if anything, I changed or added to the story. However, my editor suggested I place this commentary as EndNotes. I insisted that, as a storyteller, I needed to put each story into a context and he agreed. In fact, many reviewers and readers highlighted the value of having such commentaries as introductions to the stories.

Writing a book of folktales is not solo work. Rather, as I was writing the stories, I would be telling them to myself in a voice that I could hear so that the orality of the tales was retained (with some compromises to the printed page).

I must acknowledge two other people who have been great friends and mentors encouraging me and sharing their wealth of knowledge and wisdom about Jewish folklore. The first is the Dean of Jewish Folklore, Professor Dov Noy. Dov Noy’s Doctoral Dissertation under Professor Stith Thompson put Jewish Folktales on the World Folklore Map! Dov Noy founded the Israel Folktale Archives in 1955 and this major treasure, now at the University of Haifa, has collected over 35,000 Jewish folktales from the various ethnic communities in Israel. I include many tales found in the Israel Folktale Archives in my 14 books, always with citations.

I want to also recognize Folklorist-Author Howard Schwartz for his generosity of heart in encouraging me in my storytelling – both oral and written - and sharing his vast knowledge and wisdom with me.

Reading this Acceptance Speech on my behalf has been my dear friend for about 30 years: Storyteller and Author Cherie Karo Schwartz with whom I have shared many programs, both in teaching storytelling workshops and as part of performance events. We often ‘talk story’ and brainstorm ideas for teaching and telling stories. I am grateful to have Cherie – along with Arthur Kurzweil, Dov Noy and Howard Schwartz – as we journey through a storytelling life.

I am sorry I cannot be here in person to give my personal thanks to the Committee of the Talking Leaves Award and to all of you in the NSN!

I bless you that you continue to tell and write the stories you share as you journey through a storytelling life! In our lives today, we need a tsunami of stories that will ripple out into the world to create a healthier world of love, hope, kindness, laughter and peace!

Links to the videos :