December 14, 2007 (REVISED December 19, 2007) Jewish Folktales are the Subject of Book Talk on Jan. 31
Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
According to author Rita Roth, individuals are drawn to folktales because of “their simple, direct approach to meaningful life experience.” In her new book, “The Power of Song and Other Sephardic Tales,” Roth selected Jewish stories from several sources. These included 20,000 tales from immigrants to Israel located in the Israeli Folktale Archives in Haifa, in other historical collections and in recently published collections. Roth will deliver an illustrated lecture based on the book at noon on Thursday, Jan. 31, in the African and Middle Eastern Division Conference Room, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington D.C. The lecture, which is sponsored by the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division, is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. Published by the Jewish Publication Society, selections in “The Power of Song” are accompanied by Roth’s own commentary on the origin and meaning of each tale and a definition of some of the foreign words that appear in the story. The author’s introduction lends insight into the history of Jewish folktales and those of Sephardic Jews in particular. After their expulsion from Spain in 1492, Jews fled the Iberian Peninsula and resettled in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, taking with them the folktales that were an integral part of their heritage. In their new homelands, they borrowed local literary devices and motifs that added a uniqueness to traditional Jewish tales. Rita Roth was an associate professor for more than two decades in the Education Department at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., and a doctorate in education from Washington University.