The National Library of Israel took part in the European Days of Jewish Culture in late 2018, a project of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage, celebrating Jewish culture in dozens of cities throughout Europe annually beginning on the second of September and continuing through the end of October.
The theme chosen for the 2018 edition was storytelling. A critical piece in the transmission of our heritage, telling stories is how we remember. The way a story is told and the way messages are shared can explore the deeper meaning in everyday events and objects and telling these stories creates continuity, ensuring that traditions and cultures are passed on to future generations.
In honor of the 2018 European Days, the National Library of Israel chose several unique stories from its vast collections to inspire, teach and reveal the beauty of our history and our heritage. Each story was turned into a short film featuring an accomplished storyteller and was accompanied by a group activity that related directly to the messages behind the story.
The Demons in the Basement
The story of "The Demons in the Basement," as told by Dr. Yoel Finkelman, Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection Curator at the National Library of Israel, comes from the book called Kav HaYashar by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover of Frankfurt in a chapter in which he explains the dangers of cavorting with demons. First published in 1705, Kav HaYashar is a popular volume of Jewish ethics. Its name literally means “The Straight Line.”
The following story describes a serious problem and its bittersweet conclusion, with a bit of humor sprinkled throughout.
A Hidden Story from the Cairo Genizah
A Genizah is a depository for discarded religious texts. the story, "A Hidden Story from the Cairo Genizah," as told by the professional storyteller, Lisa Bloom, tells of one of the most famous Genizahs in the world. The Cairo Genizah was unearthed in a synagogue in Cairo. The Genizah had remained hidden and untouched for centuries until it was rediscovered.
The following video tells an astounding story that would have remained hidden had the Cairo Genizah not been uncovered.
The Journey of the Ethiopian Oriyt
The Jewish people have been on many long and extensive journeys throughout their history - to their homeland, into exile, from place to place and back home again. As Jews have journeyed, they have carried with them objects of significance- both sentimental and religious. The objects themselves tell the tales of those who have carried them and tell the stories of the arduous journeys they faced.
The following video takes us on a journey fraught with danger and teaches us about an important object housed in the National Library of Israel that tells the tale of the people who took that trip, of those who survived the journey, and those who unfortunately did not.
The Story of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife
Did you know that various versions of the most well-known Biblical stories exist in different cultures? Many biblical stories and themes have been used, and modified, for other cultural uses.
This video tells the famous biblical story of Joseph from a different perspective and emphasizes how different cultures utilize these stories to import values that are important to them.