The bird of Happiness

as told by Miriam Kanani

This tale tells the story of a young boy, son of Jewish slaves, escaping their former lives through the desert hoping to reach Jerusalem. The boy is mysteriously chosen by the Bird of Happiness to become the king of the city; despite doubts from the ministers, his wisdom and humility guide him to be a strong leader.

The city of luz

as told by Liora Brosbe

This tale from Eastern Europe tells the story of a king who orders Jews to recreate a destroyed mantle, symbol of his power and dynasty, risking their death if the order is not completed in time. In order to complete it, two rabbis are chosen to undertake a quest to the Holy Land, magically transported through time and space in a cave on the way to the ancient city of Luz, a city of immortals. 

drawing the wind

as told by Joel ben Izzy

Set in Majorca, Spain, “Drawing the Wind” tells the story of a young boy and his father, imprisoned with fellow Jews during the Spanish inquisition, and how they miraculously escaped a terrible fate thanks to the boy’s magical drawing skills.

The dybbuk in the well

as told by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

In this tale set in Ferrara, Italy, a dybbuk—an infamous malevolent demonic spirit—takes possession of a woman getting water from a well. The story also narrates the dybbuk’s life and the final exorcism completed by a rabbi. 

Elijah's violin

as told by Jordan Hill

In this fairy tale, the prophet Elijah’s violin is the object of a king’s quest across lands and kingdoms, eventually becoming a magical instrument able to awake princesses and princes from a stone-cold death. 

the enchanted island

as told by Liora Brosbe

“The Enchanted Island” tells the story of Rabbi Wolf Kitzes who, after having been lost at sea, finds himself alone in a mansion and discovers an incredibly long table. There, he is asked to choose between two objects on the table: a shofar and a horn of plenty. His choice will have consequences he does not anticipate.

the golden mountain

as told by Jordan Hill

"The Golden Mountain" narrates the adventures of a curious princess, who finds herself trapped in an enchanted cave filled with golden treasures. There, she comes into possession of a golden seashell, which enables her to hear all sounds from the outside world, and eventually find her rescuers.

the golem

as told by Joel ben Izzy

A Golem is a supernatural being made of mud and stone and brought to life via kabbalistic magic, created to protect Jews from their persecutors. In this retelling of “The Golem,” the creature is made by a rabbi in Prague to reveal the truth about the infamous blood libel, accusing Jews of kidnapping and killing Christian children. 

lilith's cave

as told by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Set in Tunis, this tale tells the fate of a family who become owners of a demon-haunted house, in which demoness Lilith’s daughter appears through the bedroom mirror and possesses the family’s mother and teenage daughter. The teenage girl’s behavior starts changing as the demoness takes control of her, eventually leading to her father’s rejection.

milk and honey

as told by Howard Schwartz

This tale narrates the adventures of a young Polish shepherd who follows a goat through a cave—a portal to the Holy Land of Israel—where the goat grazes everyday; her milk comes to miraculously cure diseases. The magical travels of the goat and shepherd will change his family’s destiny.

The Prince Who Thought He Was a Rooster

as told by Miriam Kanani

A retelling by Reb Nachman of Breslov’s original tale, this story is about a young prince who delusionally believes he is a rooster and acts as such. A tale of education, the prince eventually comes to terms with his confusion through the words and logic of a wise man.

The Princess in the tower

as told by Jordan Hill

In this tale, King Solomon’s daughter is willingly sent to live in a faraway tower, as an attempt to prevent her from marrying an unworthy, poor, suitor. However, at the tower’s feet, lives a very wise but poor man with whom she will deeply fall in love, complicating the King’s plans.

The souls of trees

as told by Howard Schwartz

In this tale, Reb Nachman of Breslov advises a couple who are unable to have children to plant twice as many trees as they cut down on their property. The trees, which are souls of people, were cut too soon and their cries and moans scared away Lailah, the angel of conception. 


After having studied storytelling at Stanford, JOEL BEN IZZY set off to travel the world, gathering and telling tales. Since then, his travels and workshops have taken him to some 35 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North and South America, and Africa. He has also become one of the nation’s leading story consultants, with clients ranging from the Federal Reserve Bank to Pixar Animation. Though the stories he tells come from everywhere, his Jewish heritage has always been at the heart of his work. ben Izzy is also an award-winning producer of six storytelling CDs and two books. The first, his memoir, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, has now been published and translated in 18 foreign editions and is in development as both a film and a musical. His newest book, Dreidels on the Brain—a fictionalized Hanukkah memoir—received the Sydney Taylor honors and was chosen as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.  

A Bay Area native, LIORA BROSBE is a formally trained maggidah with Yitzhak Buxbaum. With studies in performance and improvisational theater, Brosbe holds an MA in Drama Therapy from the California Institute for Integral Studies and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She performs throughout the Bay Area at Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, schools, and retreats including at Limmud UK and Limmud Bay Area. She and her spouse live with their three children in Berkeley, California.    

RABBI LYNN GOTTLIEB is a celebrated Bay Area storyteller, writer, activist, and educator.  She has served as a congressional rabbi for over four decades in New York, New Mexico, and California, and is co-founder of The Muslim Jewish Peacewalk. As a member of the Rabbinic Council of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rabbi Gottlieb has created programming and campaigns in various countries, focusing on multi-faith approaches to social justice.  

JORDAN HILL is a Jewish storyteller, educator, and maggid. Whether in synagogues or summer camps, at festivals or on his recordings, Hill weaves tales filled with energy, enchantment, and a deep sense of the sacred. With two decades of experience as a Jewish educator and over a decade as a professional Jewish storyteller, he draws on a wealth of experience and a deep engagement with the Jewish tradition. Born in South Africa, raised in Texas, and having lived in multiple cities and traveled across the world, he now calls Tucson, Arizona his home. There he tells stories and teaches mindfulness to children and adults in a range of settings.  

MIRIAM KANANI has been telling stories all of her life. She focuses on Jewish children’s folktales, and has told stories at several preschools, elementary schools, and synagogues, as well as at the East Bay Jewish Community Center. Kanani has been a Jewish educator for over a decade, and loves integrating stories into all aspects of her teaching. She has had both a short story and a poem published in the book Winter Harvest: Jewish Writing in St. Louis and self-published The Angel of Dreams—a children’s book that she illustrated and wrote. Kanani lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and daughter. For more information about her music and storytelling, visit   

HOWARD SCHWARTZ is an internationally recognized folklorist and storyteller who has collected both oral and written stories from around the globe. He has published and edited dozens of books on Jewish folktales, and it is his compilation of stories Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales that has provided the context and inspiration for the Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid exhibition at The Contemporary Jewish Museum. He has received distinct awards from the American Folklore Society and the Koret International Jewish Book Award, and his book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism won the National Jewish Book Award in 2005. He is also a poet and author, and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.