“The Pow­er of a Tale: Sto­ries from the Israel Folk­lore Archives” edited by Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idir Pintel-Ginsberg— Fifty-Three Folktales


Bar-Itzhak, Haya and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg (editors). “The Pow­er of a Tale: Sto­ries from the Israel Folk­lore Archives”, Wayne State University Press, 2020.

Fifty-Three Folktales

Amos Lassen

“The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives” edited by Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg is a collection of fifty-three folktales that celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) at the University of Haifa— the only archive of its kind in Israel. It is a center for knowledge and information about the cultural heritage of the many ethnic communities in Israel.

Each contributor selected a story and each story the narrator comes from a different ethnic background, education level, gender, and length of time in Israel. With each story is an accompanying analytic essay. The folk narrative is tradition, but we see that it has been modified and renewed by each narrator. The stories include many different genres and themes and include mythical tales, demon legends, märchen of various sorts, and personal narratives. Contributors use diverse approaches to analyze and interpret the stories uncovering a story’s deep structure and its binary oppositions and more.
The stories have been translated for the first time into English and reflect Jewish and Israeli culture.

Traditional and authenticity come together and entertain us as we read. We learn of the folklore of various communities and we enjoy history in a new way. Fifty-one nar­ra­tors from twen­ty-five eth­nic groups, forty-one tran­scribers, and thir­ty-eight schol­ars from Israel and the Unit­ed States are included in “The Pow­er of a Tale”. Here are the tra­di­tions of Ashke­nazi, Sephardic, and Israeli Jews, along with Druze, Bedouins, Chris­t­ian Arabs, and Mus­lims. The great­est num­ber of eth­nic nar­ra­tives come from Poland and Moroc­co. Leg­ends about place, his­to­ry, sacred peo­ple, and mirac­u­lous sal­va­tion of Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, myths, won­der tales, demon tales, real­is­tic nar­ra­tives, and moral and cau­tion­ary tales are al present here.

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