The question "Who is a Jew?" is well-known to those interested in our culture. But who is a Jewish storyteller? Many professional storytellers specialize in the tales of their ethnicity, and the People of the Book are no exception.
Listed on the website of the Jewish Storytelling Coalition (jewishstorytelling.org) are terrific storytellers I know well, including: Noa Baum, Judith Black, Jackson Gillman, Eva Grayzel, Bonnie Greenberg, Rona Leventhal, Doug Lipman, Goldie Milgram, Peninnah Schram (my mentor), and Corinne Stavish. The purpose of the Coalition, says its website, is to "provide a web presence for Jewish story," and to serve as "a national network where performing storytellers and audiences may find one another."
The site continues: "Whether your situation calls for folk, religious or contemporary tales, a performance or a workshop, education, cultural enrichment or flat-out entertainment, you will find a storyteller who best suits the needs of your unique event." It contains a bibliography from Yeshiva University professor Schram, a blog, contact information and a form to get listed as a Jewish storyteller.
Click on Massachusetts teller Bonnie Greenberg's name, and find a delightful photo, plus a description that includes: "A guitar strum, a bongo beat, a wink of the eye, and Bonnie transports you into the heart of Jewish folklore. Bonnie Greenberg, M.S., is an experienced educator/storyteller who 'touches the heart and teaches the mind ....'" It lists Bonnie's CDs and directs readers to her website for workshop descriptions.
Click on Judith Black, also from the Boston area, and we learn: "Winner of the Oracle Circle of Excellence, the most coveted award in storytelling, and the MassMouth Big Mouthoff, Judith has been featured on stages as far-reaching as The Montreal Comedy Festival, The National Storytelling Festival, The Smithsonian Institution, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the National Art Museum in Cape Town, and NPR.
Pennsylvania storyteller Eva Grayzel's write-up tells us: "With over 25 year's experience, Eva teaches educators the secrets to her hands-on and engaging techniques. After surviving a life-threatening illness, Eva developed a parent workshop on enhancing family rituals to be more meaningful, memorable and Jewish. She offers a program for confirmation students on leadership skills and Bikkur Cholim.
As a Jewish storyteller, I am honored to be in such good company. And I can't believe I waited so long to join the Jewish Storytelling Coalition. The check is in the mail.
Caren Schnur Neile is an affiliate professor at Florida Atlantic University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or thepublicstoryteller.org.