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The Power of a Tale

Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives

Edited by Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idit Pintel-Ginsberg

Jewish Studies, Jewish Life and Tradition, Folklore

Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

Available December 2017
ISBN: 9780814342084
Pages: 488 Size: 7x10
Illustrations: 45
Available December 2017
ISBN: 9780814342091

In The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives, editors Haya Bar-Itzhak and Idit Pintel-Gensberg bring together a collection of fifty-three folktales celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) at the University of Haifa. Established by the folklorist Dov Noy in the 1950s, the IFA is the only archive of its kind in Israel and serves as a center for knowledge and information concerning the cultural heritage of the many ethnic communities in Israel.

For this jubilee volume, contributors each selected stories from the more than 24,000 preserved in the archives and wrote an accompanying analytic essay. Stories selected represent 26 different ethnic groups in Israel, 22 of them Jewish. The narrators of the stories come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and education levels. They include both men and women of various ages who worked in diverse fields. Some were long settled in Israel while others were recent arrivals when their stories were collected and transcribed. They all shared one conspicuous quality—their talent as storytellers. The stories they tell encompass a myriad of genres and themes, including mythical tales, historical legends, sacred legends, demon legends, realistic legends, märchen of various sorts, novellas, jokes and anecdotes, and personal narratives.

Contributors employ diverse approaches to analyze and interpret the stories. The methods applied include the classic comparative approach, which looks at tale types, oikotypes, and motifs; formalism, which considers narrative roles and narrative functions; structuralism, which aims to uncover a story’s deep structure and its binary oppositions; a psychological approach, which analyzes the tales using psychological theories, ranging from Freud to Lacan; Marxist theory, which sees the folktale as an expression of the class struggle; and more.

Translated for the first time into English, the stories included and accompanying essays are evidence of the lively research being conducted today on folk literature. Scholars and students interested in Jewish folklore and literature will appreciate this diverse collection as will readers interested in Jewish and Israeli culture.

Haya Bar-Itzhak is a professor emerita of literature and folklore at the University of Haifa. She is chair of the department of Communication at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College. She served in the past as chair of the department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, head of folklore studies, and the academic director of the Israel Folktale Archives at the University of Haifa. Prof. Bar-Itzhak has published eleven books, among them Israeli Folk Narratives: Settlement, Immigration, Ethnicity (Wayne State University Press, 2005).

Idit Pintel Ginsberg, Ph.D., is a researcher of Jewish culture, focusing on folk literature, intangible cultural heritage preservation, Jewish cultural symbolism, and folklore in rabbinical and medieval Jewish thought and its interaction with contemporary cultural issues as rituals, festivals, magic, and demonology. For the past decade she served as the academic coordinator of the Israel Folktale Archives. She is also the author of The Angel and the Hamin, a compilation of IFA folktales centered on food and foodways.

Contributors Include:
Rella Kushelevsky, Idit Pintel-Ginsberg, Eli Yassif, Larisa Fialkova, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Haya Bar-Itzhak, Ilana Rosen, Haya Gavish, Esther Schely-Newman, Dan Ben-Amos, Aliza Shenhar, Tamar Alexander-Frizer, Howard Schwartz, Edna Hechal, Avidov Lipsker, Haya Milo, Yael Zilberman, Ravit Raufman, Esther Juhasz, Rachel Ben-Cnaan, Dina Stein, David Rotman, Peninnah Schram, Heda Jason, Tamar Eyal, Ayelet Oettinger, Limor Wisman-Ravid, Yoel Shalom Perez, Hagit Matras, Rachel Zoran, Tsafi Sebba-Elran, Jamal il-Din, Dov Noy, Nili Aryeh-Sapir, Roni Kochavi-Nehab, Yoram Meron, Roseland Da'eem, Itzhak Ganuz