Once upon a time there was a librarian (or a teacher…or a grandparent…or a rabbi) who needed just the right story for just the right moment in time. What to do? In the time-honored tradition of questers everywhere, our hero decides to consult a sage, a venerable repository of Jewish folk-tale wisdom. And so he or she reaches for The Jewish Story Finder, there to find a banquet replete with choices easy to access, and is able to find exactly the story that hits the spot.
This is an indispensable tool for educators, public speakers, families – anyone who wants to use the accumulated wit and wisdom of Jewish folklore to illustrate or amplify pretty much any topic that arises. Each story is preceded by its source and is followed by a list of “connections” to other associated topics, as well as lists of “where else this story is told” and “how else this story is told” so that other versions can be consulted, compared and contrasted. There is a glossary of names and terms that recur in many of the tales as well as a bibliography of sources. The stories are numbered and are indexed both by title and subject. Noted storyteller and author Peninnah Schram has written the foreword. This second edition of The Story Finder is wider and broader and deeper and richer than ever. And as for the joy of browsing through the story summaries – one leads to another, which leads to yet another, and before long you are lost in the world of Jewish history, culture, spirit, and soul.
As a frequent user of reference tools, this long-time librarian can attest that there are very few that are easier to use than this one and even fewer where you can be as assured that your search will be both efficient and successful. The Jewish Story Finder is highly recommended and should be used as a model of clarity and ease-of-use for other reference works of its kind.
So go ahead, find the story that fits the moment. Enlighten us; entertain us; enrich our world!
Related: Jewish Folktales Reading List
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.