Chanukah Tales from Oykvetchnik Cover

Ben Franklin and IPPY Awards

By Scott Hilton Davis
Illustrated by Amy F. Levine

Celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, with eight original short stories by Jewish storyteller Scott Hilton Davis.

Enjoy a fun-filled journey to Oykvetchnik, the tiny shtetl town in Eastern Europe where people complain a lot (except during Chanukah when they seem to be a little more charitable).

Meet Chaim the Chanukiyah, the nine-branched menorah, who feels out of place in his new home, Myzeleh the Mouse who helps a poor orphan boy find his true calling, Pinchas ben Mordechai who survives 25-years in the Tsar’s army, Reb Shimon the Shammes who has lost the synagogue’s big menorah, Channele the Rabbi’s daughter who finally meets her besherter (her soul mate), and the kind-hearted Dovidl who fears the town’s beggar may be the rightful owner of his family’s new pawnshop menorah.

One for each night of the holiday, these sweet and poignant Chanukah stories will fill your heart with the light of Jewish history, culture, and values. As the candles burn low, spend a few minutes remembering the lives of our ancestors and how they joyfully celebrated their Jewish traditions.

Chanukah Tales from Oykvetchnik is a storybook to be read each year as the chanukiyah comes off the shelf, dreidels start spinning, and the smells of freshly fried latkes waft through the house.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9975334-1-5.

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Souls Are Flying! Cover
A Celebration of Jewish Stories
Retold Jewish Stories by Scott Hilton Davis

A collection of ten short stories based on the writings of beloved Jewish authors, Sholem Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, and Jacob Dinezon.

Collected and retold by storyteller, Scott Hilton Davis, these new adaptations celebrate Jewish heritage, culture, and values. Stories include “Mendele the Book Peddler” by Sholem Abramovitsh, “If I Were Rothschild” and “Elijah the Prophet” by Sholem Aleichem,  “If Not Still Higher” and “Bontshe Shvayg” by I. L. Peretz, and for the first time in English translation, “Motl Farber, Purimshpieler,” “Borekh the Orphan,” and “Mayer Yeke” by Jacob Dinezon.

Written to be read aloud, these Jewish stories from the late nineteenth century will make you laugh, maybe bring a tear to your eye, and fill your heart with the joy of yiddishkayt and Jewish culture. Perfect for Jewish book clubs and religious school classes. A great gift for bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, or Chanukah!

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-9-0.

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Heaven and Earth Cover

Four One Act Plays
Based on the Stories of I. L. Peretz
Adapted for the Stage by Scott Hilton Davis

An entertaining collection of four one act plays based on the Yiddish short stories of the 19th century Jewish writer I. L. Peretz. Plays are appropriate for middle school, high school, and adult audiences.

Bontshe Shvayg (Bontshe the Silent). Throughout his hard and painful life on earth, Bontshe Shvayg is silent; his existence insignificant. But when he dies, the Heavenly Shofar trumpets his arrival in Paradise. Offered anything his heart desires for his quiet and saintly behavior on earth, Bontshe Shvayg’s humble request dismays his Defending Angel and stuns the Heavenly Court of Paradise. (4 males; 4 females)

What Is A Soul? Three teachers—a stern, by-the-book Talmud teacher, a mystical Chassidic rebbe, and a “freethinking” Yiddish writing tutor—compete for the heart, mind, and soul of a young Jewish student. (4 males; 3 females)

Empty Handed. (Based on Peretz’s short story, “At the Head of the Dying Man.”) When the White Angel arrives to escort Rivke-Beyle’s soul to heaven, she is surprised to find the Dark Angel from “the other place” already waiting beside the dying woman’s bed. Rivke-Beyle’s choice of which angel to accompany will surprise and challenge the thinking of your audience. (1 male; 2 females)

If Not Still Higher. A Litvak—a skeptical Jew from Lithuania—is determined to find out where the Rebbe of Nemirov really goes when he disappears each year between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. What the Litvak finds out about tzedakah—good deeds—changes his life forever. (3 males; 2 females)

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-09798156-2-1.

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Memories and Scenes Cover

Shtetl, Childhood, Writers
Jewish Stories by Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson
Introduction by Scott Hilton Davis

Jacob Dinezon (1851-1919) was one of the most successful Yiddish writers of the late 1800s. Friend and mentor to almost every major Jewish literary figure of his day, including Sholem Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher Sforim), I. L. Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, S. An-ski, and Abraham Goldfaden, Dinezon played a central role in the development of Yiddish as a modern literary language.

A successful novelist in his own right, Jacob Dinezon, like Charles Dickens, championed the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed, especially children. He used his pen to expose the hypocrisy and injustice in shtetl society, and his stories reveal a deep love and commitment to uplifting and enlightening the common Jewish people.

In this collection of eleven autobiographical short stories, Dinezon recalls his childhood years in the shtetl, the unusual and memorable characters he encountered along the way, and the events that led to his passion for becoming a writer. Contained within these stories is a treasure trove of Yiddish history, culture, and values.

Now, for the first time in English, Yiddish translator Tina Lunson places Jacob Dinezon’s stories beside the works of his contemporaries. If, as scholars suggest, Sholem Abramovitsh, I. L. Peretz, and Sholem Aleichem, are the grandfather, father, and grandson of modern Yiddish literature, then surely Jacob Dinezon is the beloved uncle, writing stories filled with Jewish humor, compassion, and love.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-1-4.

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Hershele Cover

A Jewish Love Story
By Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler
Edited and with an Introduction by Scott Hilton Davis

“A poignant look at the trials and triumphs of young love in the shtetl. Jacob Dinezon’s lyrical story brings this bygone world to life.” —MAGGIE ANTON, author of Rashi’s Daughters and Rav Hisda’s Daughter

When Hershele, a poor but brilliant yeshiva student, is invited for a weekly charity meal by a rich widow, he comes face-to-face with Mirele, the widow’s pretty, bright, and strong-willed daughter. As the two innocently come to know each other, they fall in love.

Are they bashert—soul mates destined to be together? Or will rigid class differences, shtetl politics, and a ruthless marriage broker tear them apart?

This poignant love story, written in 1891, provides a vivid and insightful exploration of our great-grandparents’ lives in 19th century Eastern Europe: how they lived, how they loved, and how they tried to remain faithful to their Jewish way of life in the face of modern ideas and a changing world.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-7-6.

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Yosele Cover

A Story from Jewish Life
By Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler
Foreword by Scott Hilton Davis

Yosele, Jacob Dinezon’s short novel published in 1899, exposed in vivid detail the outmoded and cruel teaching methods prevelant in the traditional cheders (Jewish elementary schools) of the late 1800s.

Writing in Yiddish to reach the broadest Jewish audience, Dinezon described with all the pathos of Charles Dickens, the sad, poverty-stricken life of a bright and gentle school boy whose violent treatment at the hands of his teacher, parents, and society is shocking and painfully heartrending. The outrage that resulted from the story’s initial publication produced an urgent call for reform and set the stage for the beginning of a secular school movement that transformed Jewish elementary education.

This first-time English translation by Jane Peppler presents a rare and vivid picture of Jewish life in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. An excellent resource for classes in Jewish Studies, Yiddish literature, and Eastern European History.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-3-8.

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Jacob Dinezon Cover

The Mother Among Our Classic Yiddish Writers
By Shmuel Rozshanski
Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral

Jacob Dinezon: The Mother Among Our Classic Yiddish Writers is an insightful and well-documented biography about the beloved and successful 19th century Yiddish writer, Jacob Dinezon (1851?-1919), the author the Jewish Daily Forward called, “The Greatest Yiddish Writer You Never Heard Of.”

Credited with writing the first “Jewish Realistic Romance” and the first bestselling Yiddish novel, Dinezon was closely associated with the leading Jewish writers of his day, including Sholem Abramovitsh (Mendele Mocher Sforim), Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz—dubbed the “Classic Writers of Modern Yiddish Literature.”

Dinezon wrote poignant stories about Eastern European shtetl life and focused on the emotional conflicts affecting young people as the modern ideas of the Jewish Enlightenment challenged traditional religious practices and social norms. Frequently, the plight of his characters brought tears to the eyes of his devoted readers.

In this Yiddish biography written in 1956 and translated into English for the first time by Yiddishist Miri Koral, the renowned literary historian Shmuel Rozshanski makes the case for including Jacob Dinezon in the “family” of classic Yiddish writers. Based on his extensive research and review of Dinezon’s major works, Rozshanski concludes that Jacob Dinezon deserves to be recognized as a major figure in the development of Yiddish as a literary language. If, as scholars suggest, Sholem Abramovitsh is the grandfather, I. L. Peretz the father, and Sholem Aleichem the grandson of modern Yiddish literature, then Jacob Dinezon, Rozshanski insists, should be considered the “mother” for his gentle, kindhearted, and emotional approach to storytelling and to his readers.

An important research book for scholars of Yiddish literature, history, and culture.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-8-3.

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