A Review of The Essential Jewish Stories

April 9, 2013

EssentialJewish stories

 by Rabbi Louis A. Rieser

Stories tell the truth. Sometimes the truth is evident for all to see; sometimes you need to hold stories up as a mirror in order to see the truth. In The Essential Jewish Stories, Seymour Rossel shares his collection of favorite tales. They will make you laugh, move you to tears, and – most importantly – make you think about the human experience. They teach a great deal about the Jewish outlook on the world.

The stories are arranged in four large categories, each subdivided into discrete sections. The stories come from multiple sources, largely rabbinic and Hasidic literature. Other stories are of Rossel’s own creation. He helps by noting the source for the original tale, allowing us to decide if we agree with his version or wish to retell it in our own voice. Rossel’s occasional brief annotations comment on sources or the similarity to other tales or traditions.

Rossel includes three helpful indexes: festivals and holy days, notable characters, and concepts and values. For anyone planning a program or researching a theme, these indexes will prove indispensable.

This review first appeared in Congregational Libraries Today


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