The Jewish Story Finder

A Guide to 668 Tales Listing Subjects and Sources, 2d ed.


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About the Book

Storytelling, as oral tradition and in writing, has long played a central role in Jewish society. Family, educators, and clergy employ stories to transmit Jewish culture, traditions, and values. This comprehensive bibliography identifies 668 Jewish folktales by title and subject, summarizing plot lines for easy access to the right story for any occasion. Some centuries old and others freshly imagined, the tales include animal fables, supernatural yarns, and anecdotes for festivals and holidays. Themes include justice, community, cause and effect, and mitzvahs, or good deeds. This second edition nearly doubles the number of stories and expands the guide’s global reach, with new pieces from Turkey, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Chile. Subject cross-references and a glossary complete the volume, a living tool for understanding the ever-evolving world of Jewish folklore.

About the Author(s)

Sharon Barcan Elswit has been working as a children’s librarian for 35 years. She currently teaches in New York City. She writes reviews for Jewish Book Council and has published in School Library Journal, Writer’s Digest, and other magazines. Visit her website at .

Bibliographic Details

Sharon Barcan Elswit

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 416
Bibliographic Info: glossary, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4823-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9286-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by Peninnah Schram 1
Preface 3
I ~ God, Faith, and Prayer 9
II ~ The Torah, the Talmud and Their Study 31
III ~ Biblical Characters and Events 45
Creation 62;
Adam 66;
Noah 71;
Babel 79;
Abraham 80;
Miriam 81;
Moses 83;
David 89;
Solomon 94
IV ~ Quests for Sacred Objects and Holy Encounters in Later Times 77
Meeting Elijah 116;
Meeting Jonah 138;
Meeting Moses 139;
Meeting David 140;
Quests for Sacred Objects Lost in Time 141;
Journeys to Holy Places 148
V ~ Rabbis: Wit and Wisdom 102
VI ~ Wonder Weavers: Tales of Magic 131
VII ~ Angels, Demons, Spirits, Gilguls, Dybbuks and Golems: The Supernatural 173
VIII ~ Talking Animal Tales and Fables 209
IX ~ Tricksters and Fools 229
Hershel of Ostropol 402;
Other Tricksters 409;
The Fools of Chelm 414;
Joha, Trickster and Fool 453;
More Fools 471
X ~ Human Stories 269
Clever People 488; Everyday Life and Stories Set in History 511
XI ~ Tales for Festivals and Holidays 315
Sabbath 578;
Rosh Hodesh 596;
Rosh Hashanah 598;
Yom Kippur 608;
Sukkot 612;
Simchat Torah 620;
Hanukkah 622;
Tu B’Shevat 639;
Purim 642;
Passover 645;
Shavuot 665;
Tishah B’Av 668
Glossary 363
Bibliography 367
Story Title Index 379
Subject Index 395

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “user-friendly and entertaining. Recommended”—Choice
  • “indispensable…highly recommended and should be used as a model of clarity and ease-of-use for other reference works of its kind”—Jewish Book Council
  • “a thoughtful, beautifully executed piece of work and a welcome addition to the field of Jewish children’s literature…a handy reference tool…carefully-prepared guide”—AJL Newsletter
  • “the book that Jewish librarians, teachers, and storytellers have been waiting for has finally arrived, fulfilling almost all of our high expectations…marvelous source…highly recommended”—Jewish Book World
  • “a very useful source…suitable for multicultural programs… a good addition”—ARBA
  • “An invaluable resource”—School Library Journal