Conference Proceeding: Tevyeh Talks: Why Talk about the Old Tales Now?

• Once upon a time, a Jewish grandfather told his granddaughter who was being bullied about a woman who had to figure out how to pull three hairs from a lion’s mane.
• Once upon a time when times were hard, a rabbi told the community the story of the miracle that occurred after the Baal Shem Tov’s secret spot for praying for his people was lost.
• Once upon a time, a stranger helped a lost young man find his way in the world by telling him the tale where King Solomon loses his whole identity in one moment of arrogance and needs to start again.
They began once upon a time, and they’re still here –all these relationships and struggles in a messy world - and all the folktales. Jewish stories people have passed on from generation to generation stand ready to bring wonder, comfort, teaching, laughter, argument, and quiet reflection to enrich our human lives. Not just for children. Applying Jewish values, the old stories are ready to show us how to forgive; how to help others; the importance of education, devotion, generosity, and perspective; when to proceed with caution, and why to bother. So many Jewish stories are out there. But, how can you find the right story to fit a situation? How do you choose one variant of a story over a different telling? How have the old tales changed over time? How do they inform new ones? Why share them outside of the Jewish community? And why do I collect them for you? I’d like you to come out of my talk with renewed appreciation for seeking and sharing the old tales and some practice with me in finding them.