Hear Traditional Jewish Folktales

PISCATAWAY – On Sunday, April 25, at 2 pm, Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Folklife Program for New Jersey present Traditional Jewish Folktales with Storyteller Rivka Willick at East Jersey Olde Town Village, 1050 River Road, Piscataway. This program is offered free of charge but advance registration is required.

The Jewish people have a strong oral tradition and stories have been part of the tradition from ancient times. Rivka Willick is an Orthodox Jewish woman who maintains her heritage through storytelling that pertains to Jewish religious and daily life. Willick grew up listening to stories from her mother and father, a tradition that was woven into her family structure. Her first memories were of her mother telling fanciful tales of traditions and family history. Her father gave her the gift of a story nearly every day. The folktales never stopped and she is carrying on the family tradition to this day.


A passionate narrator, Willick believes storytelling is “a recitation of a story that one knows in both the heart and mind. It is not memorization, but comes from within the body and not just the head. On hearing it, the listener takes it into their heart and mind, socially and intellectually.”

Willick will share a collection of both old and new stories illustrating the variation and complexity of Jewish storytelling. Chassidic Stories are inspired by the Jewish mystic movement founded in Eastern Europe in the 18th century by the Baal Shem Tov. Humorous Tales show that humor has been essential in facing the hardships and challenges of every generation. History has happened to Jews all over the world for centuries, Tales from the Towns are Purim stories, tales of miraculous events that saved Jews, and that are associated with various cities.

Maybe all Jewish stories are Tales of Faith, but some stories are taken from Jewish literature and find voice in oral form. The Maggids Tell represents the great spiritual storytellers (maggids), like Chofetz Chaim and Paysach Krohn, who continued the tradition into the 20th and 21st centuries. In Diaspora Stories, Willick will share three stories about coming to the United States.

For more information and to register for this free Folklife program, call 1-732-745-4489.

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