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One-Minute Jewish Stories by Shari Lewis
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One-Minute Jewish Stories

by Shari Lewis

Other authors: Roberta. Collier-Morales (Illustrator)

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An introduction by the author, in which she explains that these stories had never "touched me, pained me, thrilled me, inspired me" before, is followed by 20 stories of midrash and folklore. A good collection of useful stories from Creation through the time of Herschel Ostropol, some with introductory words of explanation. Many stories are availablle as stand-alone picture books and in other collections. The illustrations are colorful and straight-forward.

"Why the Moon is Smaller Than the Sun" is also in Julius Lester's When the Beginning Began.

"How Abraham Came to Believe in Just One God" is a shorter version of Jacqueline Jules' Abraham's Search for God and similar to Gerald McDermott's The Stonecutter, a Japanese folk tale, and a gentler Jewish version, Getzl's The Stonecutter Who Wanted to be Rich, which ends with 'Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot" from Pirke Avot. These in turn connect to the many versions of the Mouse's Daughter, about a father who wants to marry his daughter to the most powerful being in the world and ends up marrying her to a mouse.

"Abraham and the Idols" is one of those stories that some people grow up believing is in the Bible. It's not.

"How Moses Became a Stutter" must be in Ileene Smith Sobel's Moses and the Angels, illlustrated by Mark Podwal and introduced by Elie Wiesel. (I don't have it in front of me.) As an official Midrash, it's certainly many other places as well.

"David and the Spider Web" I first read in Stories About King David, a big blue illustrated book.

"The Site of the Temple" is the story of the two brothers who each thinks the other is more deserving and hence gives his share of their crops to his brother. Florence Freeman's(?) The Two Brothers, Neil Waldman's The Two Brothers: A Legend of Jerusalem, Frances Harber's The Brothers' Promise, and Chris Smith's One City, Two Brothers are picture book versions.

Solomon and the Baby Bee, in which Solomon's kindness is rewarded many years later when the Queen of Sheba tests him by asking him to point out which flower in a group of lifelike, artificial flowers is real. This is no doubt in Blu Greenberg and Linda Tarry's King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and is reminiscent of Androcles and the Lion.

The Story of Purim is a bit short and doesn't quite follow the original book (of Esther), but given that the retelling fits on one two-page spread with a picture and a lot of white space, it is not so bad.

The Festival of Lights: Hanukkah blames Antiochus, king of Syria, for everything and ends with the miracle of the oil. Like the Purim story, it fits on one page. A preliminary note explains that the menorah in the Temple was always lit.

Jonah and the Tree leaves out the big fish part of the story and gives a good explanation of why Jonah was annoyed about the tree withering and the lesson that God was trying to teach him.

Hillel and the Pagan is about the man who comes to Shammai and then Hillel asking to be taught all of Torah while he stands on one foot. She includes the second half of Hillel's statement, "Now go and study",, along with the first half, the Jewish version of the golden rule.

A Father's Advice sounds like a folktale, but I'm not familar with it. An evil vizier tries to kill a Jewish servant of the sultan, and dies instead because the servant listened to his father's advice. But it all has to do with pushing someone into an oven and too many people have died that way. Ms. Lewis softens his death a little by saying "and that was the end of him." Rosenkranz and Gildenstern unwittingly deliver a message which spells their doom in the way the vizier had planned.

The Cobbler from Chelm in the Big City is about the Chelmite on the way to the big city for the first time who takes off his boots and points them towards Warsaw before taking a nap on the road. A branch accidently turns them to point back to Chelm. It's sweet that she gets rid of malicious prankster, but it must be a talented branch to be able to not knock over the boots. He waits in "Warsaw" until the real occupant of the house with people seems exactly like his family will return. Gary Clement's Just Stay Put is a picture book version. Isaac Bashevis Singer's When Schlemiel Went to Warsaw looks more into how it feels to know that you don't really belong somewhere.

Praying with a Flute is the Hasidic story of the boy who, not knowing how to pray from a book, plays his flute wholeheartedly instead. Yussel's Prayer: A Yom Kippur Story by Barbara Cohen is a picture book with a quiet, gentle feeling illustrated in shades of brown.

The Good Friends and the King is about a king so impressed by the loyalty of two friends that he spares the life of the one who had been unjustly accused of being a spy. I'm not familar with the story. It seems vaguely reminiscent of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors.

The Horse Who Brought Home a Treasure is, I suppose, about trusting in the Lord. When a thief steals a poor man's cart and horse, the man continues to read Torah to his family. After the thief discovers gold in the forest and dies, the horse gets hungry and wends his way home with a cart full of golden coins. The man can now give instead of get tzedakah.

The Honored Garment is about how a young man is treated badly at a party to which everyone was invited because of his poor clothing. When he returns dressed in new finery and is warmly invited by the host to sit by him, the young man takes off his new robe, puts it by his host and tells the robe to eat. After the man explains that it was his clothing that the host was happy to see and not him, the host has the decency to feel shame. The story is used in a Yom Kippur play that I found online (http://www.uuintergenerational.org/yom_kippur.htm); in it, the host finally asks the young man's forgiveness. It also a Sufi story (http://www.storyarts.org/library/nutshell/stories/banquet.html) retold in A Collection of Concise Folktale Plots for Student Retelling by Heather Forest (at the same storyarts.org site). I think this story is told in a picture book, but I can't find it at the moment.

The Wise King is about a queen who tells her seven sons that whoever brings her the most valuable gift will reign after her. Six of them bring jewels and other objects of monetary value, but the youngest brings a poor, badly treated little girl for the queen to care for. She is so impressed by his gift of love that she makes him king immediately. I'm not familar with this story, which deals with the middah of kindness as actions, not just warm regard. I found it interesting that there were seven sons, not three as you might expect in a typical European folktale.

What Herschel's Father Did has an introduction that explains the importance of a sense of humor when dealing with persecution and that Herschel of Ostropol was a real person from the Ukraine who was born about two hundred years ago. In this story he scares an innkeeper so much by threatening to do what his father did when hungry that the innkeeper gives him a lavish feast. Only then does he learn that what Herschel's father did when he couldn't eat, was go hungry.

Herschel in the Woods uses the kindheartedness of a thief to trick him. Herschel asks the theif to shoot holes in Herschel's clothing to prove to his wife that he was robbed. Then the thief runs out of bullets....

Both stories are in The adventures of Hershel of Ostropol by Eric A. Kimmel. ( )
  raizel | Jul 13, 2011 |
Twenty stories from various aspects of Jewish life--the Talmud, folklore, the Bible, history--all in a format for reading in one minute.
  GCJCPreKClassroom | Jul 9, 2011 |
20 stories from Bible, Talmud, folktales, history to illustrate Jewish concepts
  Folkshul | Jan 15, 2011 |
20 stories from Bible, Talmud, folktales, history to illustrate Jewish concepts
  Folkshul | Jan 15, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shari Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collier-Morales, Roberta.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385244479, Hardcover)

Twenty stories from various aspects of Jewish life--the Talmud, folklore, the Bible, history--all in a format for reading in one minute.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Twenty stories from various aspects of Jewish life--the Talmud, folklore, the Bible, history--all in a format for reading in one minute.

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