Uncle Yos­si’s Big Book of Sto­ries — Vol­ume 3

Rab­bi Zal­man Gold­stein and Rab­bi Yosef Goldstein
  • Review
By – September 7, 2017

Uncle Yos­si’s Big Book of Sto­ries — Vol­ume 3 by Rab­bi Zal­man Gold­stein and Rab­bi Yosef Gold­stein | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

For thir­ty years, Rab­bi Yosef Gold­stein shared eth­i­cal and moral Hasidic tales aloud with young­sters in the Ortho­dox Chabad com­mu­ni­ty; since 2014 his son has been tran­scrib­ing and pub­lish­ing them. Salt­ed with Yid­dish, most of the sto­ries take place in East­ern Europe a cen­tu­ry ago, where indi­vid­u­als endured dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions through belief in Hashem and trust in God’s protection. 

Read­ers with a back­ground in Ortho­dox Judaism are more like­ly to appre­ci­ate these old-fash­ioned teach­ing tales, which end with brief moral state­ments, and may fright­en younger chil­dren. Humor does occa­sion­al­ly appear, as in the sto­ry of a poor wood­cut­ter who asks the rob­ber who holds him up for his tzedakah mon­ey to shoot holes in his cloth­ing, so peo­ple will believe his sto­ry. Oth­er tales are skimpy on plot and depend on rev­er­ence for known rabbis.

Rab­bi Goldstein’s best sto­ry­telling in this vol­ume, how­ev­er, is on dis­play in his tales about returns to Judaism: Chil­dren who have been lost and raised as Chris­tians, plus one who los­es his own way in bad com­pa­ny, redis­cov­er their roots as adults.

Sharon Elswit, author of The Jew­ish Sto­ry Find­er, now resides in San Fran­cis­co, where she has been help­ing stu­dents vis­it­ing 826 Valen­cia loca­tions around the city to write sto­ries and poems and get­ting adults up and retelling Jew­ish folk­tales to share with their own spin. 

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