6th Annual Jewish Storytelling Event – March 3

Storytelling is magic!  

Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, in partnership with the Skidmore Office for Jewish Student Life, Temple Sinai, and with the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, and Golub Corporation, presents its sixth Annual Storytelling Event featuring both local and regional storytellers as well as Skidmore students retelling both traditional and contemporary tales on Sunday, March 3 at Skidmore College at 5:30 p.m.

What all of these individuals have in common is that they love storytelling and use it in multiple ways through their daily lives and are coming to share their passion with the listener.

To hear a story is to have an experience that moves us to a time and place we’ve never been.  Stories help us feel and think and open us up to new worlds and new understandings.  Listening to stories can connect us to the past, to each other, to deeper parts of ourselves, and to the vast possibilities that life can hold.

In fact, almost every culture has storytelling in its past.  It was the way, long before books were available, that custom, culture, and morality passed from one generation to the next…storytelling is coded communication. Different people understand the words in different ways. Adults understand the sociology and history while children understand the action. Storytelling requires verbal clues and more.  While the child and adult may laugh at the same words, they did not hear the same story, but both experience extreme pleasure from the occasion.

In 2019, with readily available books, movies, television, radio, internet, telephone and more, storytelling is still a most popular genre. There is no shortage of events from festivals to conferences, opportunities galore for storytelling. There are happenings geared to every age group, from the very young to the most senior.

On March 3, Skidmore College Falstaff Building will be the venue for an enchanting evening of Jewish themed storytelling. Jewish life has a long tradition of storytelling.

“To hear a Jewish story is to share the humor and warmth, wisdom and angst, earthiness and spirituality of an ancient and thoroughly modern, diverse and irrepressible group of people bearing a most remarkable history,” said Phyllis Wang, coordinator of the Saratoga Jewish Community Arts.

Storytelling has been a means of defining the Jewish identity, the ethnic distinctiveness as a Jew, Wang said.

As a member of a unique community, Jews tell and retell stories. The telling of stories is the way we share historical happenings and create a cultural history. “There is a captivating gift for storytelling,” Wang said.  “It is not just a reading or recitation of a story.  It is a passionate interpretation of a tale so that the listener is transported through time and place.”

Included in our lineup is Beth Sabo Novik, facilitator, teacher, and transformational speaker; Shawn Banner, artist, teacher of art and educator, focusing on math intervention; Sylvia Bloom, Director of Education, professor of voice, and director of Eenie Meenie Music; Sandor (Sandy) Schuman, President of Executive Decision Services LLC, author, facilitator, and communications specialist; and Martina Zobel, gifted Jewish Educator who uses story to enrich students of all ages.

Beth Sabo Novik – Beth wanted to be a storyteller when she grew up. Instead, she incorporates stories into all the work she does as a healer/hypnotist/massage therapist/workshop leader and speaker/mother and Temple Sinai Religious School teacher. Believing stories are perhaps the strongest force in the world, she takes them very seriously in a totally fun sort of way. Her long history with theater has brought her to this storytelling moment.

Shawn Banner – Shawn is an educator/illustrator/story teller who has been affiliated with Temple Sinai since time immortal (well, at least since he returned to Saratoga to raise his children, who are all grown up now). He’s been teaching elementary school in Albany for 15 years, illustrates for a variety of clients in the publishing and advertising fields (visit to see his artwork), and has been telling stories for as long as he could talk. Shawn has a particular fondness for folk tales and “children’s stories,” which he feels, and hopes you will agree, are really stories for all ages.

Sylvia Bloom – Sylvia is Director of Education at Temple Sinai, a professor of voice at SUNY- Adirondack, and the director of Eenie Meenie Music, offering Music Together® classes for families with young children. She has performed as a cast member in Phantom of the Opera and as a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, and has sung as soloist with the Erie Philharmonic (PA) and the Springfield Symphony (MO). Locally, she has played Rona Lisa Peretti in The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Helena in The Mystery of Edwin Drood with the Hubbard Hall Theater Company, presented her recital, Lost and Found, with pianist Miriam Enman, and made her storytelling debut at the Jewish Storytelling Festival last year.

Sandor (Sandy) Schuman – Storyteller, musician, and educator, Sandy Schuman tells stories about songs and songwriters, personal adventures, historical sagas, folk tales, and stories in the Jewish storytelling tradition. He’s been featured at The Northeast Storytelling Conference, Riverway Storytelling Festival, Caffe Lena, Proctors, Tellabration, Limmud Boston, and many conference, senior community, interfaith, radio, and television programs. He won the St. Louis Jewish Storytelling Contest in 2015. His stories have been published in Tablet, Memoir Magazine, Distressing Damsels, Stories We Tell, Story Club Magazine, Storytelling Magazine, New Mitzvah Stories, and in his book, Welcome to Chelm’s Pond (where the ridiculous stories of Chelm meet the preposterous tall tales of the Adirondacks). Sandy is a member of the Story Circle of the Capital District, Northeast Storytelling, National Storytelling Network, Jewish Storytelling Coalition, and Lifetime Arts Creative Aging Roster.

Martina Zobel – A gifted and talented Jewish educator, Martina has been using story to enrich students of all ages for many years.  Martina’s own Jewish journey started in modern orthodoxy in the United Kingdom, and includes six years in Israel as a young adult.  Her work in the US has involved teaching in a favorite variety of settings, including overnight camps, teacher conferences, Conservative day school, and Reform supplementary programs.  Martina’s love of her rich heritage shines through as she casts a magic spell with words.  She has undertaken an in-depth study of mussar practices (introspection and self-accounting as part of a 19th century Eastern European moralistic philosophy).  Martina is Director of the Skidmore College Office for Jewish Student Life.

Please join us for a selection of stories to fill the mind, the heart, and the soul with an engaging and entertaining family-centered evening of stories. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m.  A $10 donation per adult and $5 per child is requested.  For RSVPs, please email or call 518-584-8730, opt 2.