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Tales Told By a Master

When my children were little, I loved reading children’s books to them, especially Jewish stories.

For very young children, “Before You Were Born” is the best of both worlds, a wondrous reshaping of a rabbinic legend that answers a familiar plea: “Tell me a story about before I was born.” In this lovely book, we meet the angel Lailah, who knows all the mysteries of heaven and who once shared her secrets with us. The moment we were born, we forgot everything. But in this book, we learn all those wonderful secrets again.

Howard Schwartz, the author of this and nine other children’s books, writes for older children as well, in award-winning classics such as “The Diamond Tree,” “Next Year in Jerusalem: 3000 Years of Jewish Tales,” and “The Day the Rabbi Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of Magic.”

Schwartz, a scholar and artist whose medium is the rich Jewish tradition of storytelling, has also edited a four-volume set of Jewish folktales, which includes “Elijah’s Violin & Other Jewish Fairy Tales,” “Miriam’s Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from Around the World,” “ Lilith’s Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural” and, most recently, “Gabriel’s Palace: Jewish Mystical Tales.”

His major book, “Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism,” won the National Jewish Book Award for 2005. “Reimagining the Bible: The Storytelling of the Rabbis” was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for 1999.

He is also the author of several books of fiction, including “The Captive Soul of the Messiah” and “Adam’s Soul.” As a poet, he has published three volumes of poetry.

The noted folklorist, author and poet is also a Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he lives with his wife Tsila, a calligrapher, and his three children, Shira, Nathan and Miriam.

An ever popular speaker, Schwartz will be at the Boulder JCC on Sunday, September 9, at 7 pm with his most popular presentation, Tales of the Great Jewish Mystics. Rabbi Marc Soloway will introduce Schwartz.

The evening, a combination of  stories and explanation of the tradition of storytelling among the Jewish mystics, is co-sponsored by Congregation Bonai Shalom and Congregation Har HaShem.

Tickets are available in advance for $12 (click here) and at the door for $15. Tickets are $12 at the door for members of the Boulder JCC, Har HaShem and Bonai Shalom.

Click the book images above to order from the Boulder Bookstore.


About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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