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Folktales of the Jews, Volume 2
Tales from Eastern Europe

By Dan Ben-Amos (editor)

Thanks to Lloyd E. Cotson; Maurice Amado Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Foundation for Jewish Culture for making publication of this book possible.

Dov Noy, Consulting Editor

Lenn Schramm, Tales Translator


"What a gift it is! ...there is no denying the scope, fluidity, and uniqueness of this collection. It brings us storytelling gems from a disappearing world and lovingly polishes them with discourse."
- Jewish Book World

Folktales of the Jews is a cross-section of cultures, backgrounds, geographies and stories, with common threads but immeasurable differences, connecting to form an odd, unique and inimitable pastiche of Jewish life.” – World Jewish Digest

You will be taken by the poetry and rich cadences of the storytellers.” – Jewish Herald-Voice

The second volume in a literary landmark

Folktales from Eastern Europe presents 71 tales from Ashkenasic culture in the most important collection of Jewish folktales ever published. It is the second volume in Folktales of the Jews, the five-volume series to be released over the next several years, in the tradition of Louis Ginzberg's classic, Legends of the Jews.

The tales here and the others in this series have been selected from the Israel Folktale Archives at The University of Haifa, Israel (IFA), a treasure house of Jewish lore that has remained largely unavailable to the entire world until now.

Since the creation of the State of Israel, the IFA has collected more than 20,000 tales from newly arrived immigrants, long-lost stories shared by their families from around the world. The tales come from the major ethno-linguistic communities of the Jewish world and are representative of a wide variety of subjects and motifs, especially rich in Jewish content and context.

Each of the tales is accompanied by in-depth commentary that explains the tale's cultural, historical, and literary background and its similarity to other tales in the IFA collection, and extensive scholarly notes. There is also an introduction that describes the Ashkenasic culture and its folk narrative tradition, a world map of the areas covered, illustrations, biographies of the collectors and narrators, tale type and motif indexes, a subject index, and a comprehensive bibliography.

Until the establishment of the IFA, we had had only limited access to the wide range of Jewish folk narratives. Even in Israel, the gathering place of the most wide-ranging cross-section of world Jewry, these folktales have remained largely unknown. Many of the communities no longer exist as cohesive societies in their representative lands; the Holocaust, migration, and changes in living styles have made the continuation of these tales impossible.

This series is a monument to a rich but vanishing oral tradition.

About Dan Ben-Amos

Dan Ben-Amos, PhD is the editor of the 2006 National Jewish Award Winner Folktales of the Jews and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His speech topics include “The Folktales of Sephardic Jews” and “The Folktales of Ashkenazi Jews.”

Willing to Travel, Honorarium Negotiable