Stories From Torah To Today

The history of Jewish storytelling from 'Bereshit' to today. This 3,000 year lesson traces the origins of the story and the art from the very beginnings of the 'word' through the travels of its people and the interesting twists and turns that we as a people have taken.

Stops along the way of these astonishingly literate people include the use of language in early drama, music and its corollary art forms. How literacy and language skills have protected and moved Jews along through exile and pogroms and how the rise of the Yiddish drama from its earliest uses in the 5th century until its subsequent immigration to America and then a twist and a journey westward to movies and television. It is difficult to remove, even from the saddest times, the ways in which language and story have been intricately entangled in the ways we protect ourselves physically and psychologically. It is also impossible to ignore the use of the comedic influence and its fascinating journeys from Torah to the stage, from shtetl to the Catskills and Broadway. A travel well documented.

Recommended teaching segments:
Friday evening: 
Setting the stage for language - In the Beginning.

–Discussion on the development of the story format
–Importance of the role of the teller from its earliest uses
–Use of the story, and the story put to music
–Visual enhancements as an educational and spiritual tool
in Jewish life
–Lively and engaging conversation with story example

Saturday study:
Taking it on the road. 

The development of the language and how it moved 'easily' from scriptural story to the theatre with particular emphasis on the Yiddish components as an art form and a secret language and the ways in which its own subsequent journey and growth took new dimensions in the 'new country' giving comfort and career. Seeing the rise of its stars in commercial areas of entertainment in the Catskills, Burlesque, Vaudeville and then travelling west in areas open to Jewish occupational skills - the movies and television. Wonderful stories of success and wit and wisdom.

Saturday closure:
One Man's Story, Keeping the Door Open for Elijah

As Havdalah approaches we investigate a prophet whose life
(an unending one) as a prophet and subsequent 'speaker for the people' is a lesson for the ways we live our own lives. Wonderful tales of this 'firebrand fighter for people's rights' and the ways he comes into our current stories and ritual practices are a perfect conclusion for the use of  story in practice as we sing 'Eliyahu'
and close Shabbat study.