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Pre-Launch Event For 'JEWels: Teasing Out the Poetry in Jewish Humor and Storytelling' Announced

The event will take place Tuesday, December 29, 3:15PM.

Pre-Launch Event For 'JEWels: Teasing Out the Poetry in Jewish Humor and Storytelling' Announced

A "crown jewel" of this month's Yiddish New York Festival is sure to be the special pre-launch event for upcoming book, JEWels - Teasing Out the Poetry in Jewish Humor and Storytelling.

Presented by Yiddish New York in partnership with City Lore (Tuesday, December 29th at 3:15pm), the JEWels event features Jewish jokes and tales polished into short poems and presented live on Zoom by a mini-minyan of New York City's top storytellers, humorists and poets. Hosted by artist, comedian and Moth storyteller Flash Rosenberg, the event also features the Storytelling Rabbi Edward Schechter, former New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, writer and activist Esther Cohen, poets Bob Holman and Zev Shanken, storyteller Lisa Lipkin and folklorist Steve Zeitlin, City Lore's founding executive director and editor of JEWels.

Zeitlin says the event is a celebration of the forthcoming book JEWels, where attendees can "join us as we enter the cave of Jewish jokes and stories, hold up a miner's lamp, chip away at the schist and sift through the dust of legends, tales, poems, jokes, and stories to find those that stand the test of time. Mining for meaning, we journey through these jokes and tales in a quest to uncover the JEWels. Then we polish hard so each of us can see-our own reflection."

"Jewish jokes seem to lend themselves to poetry," says Zeitlin. "Although some will simply make you laugh, most exist in that profound human space where you do not know whether to laugh or cry." Attendees are invited to bring their own poetic or philosophical Jewish jokes and tales to share.

(See two sample JEWels below.)



JEWels - Teasing out the Poetry in Jewish Humor and Storytelling

For tickets, click here to purchase a

Yiddish New York (YNY)single session pass.

(Day Passes and Full Festival passes also available at

You will receive a Zoom link by email 24-48 hours before the program

***Friends of City Lore can get 10% discount by using promo code

YNY10 when ordering Full Festival passes (not for use with other discounts)

Two Sample JEWels...

At a Bungalow in the Rockaways

Four women play Mah Jongh in hushed silence

No sound but the clicking of tiles

Then, unable to sustain the quiet, the first one utters, Oy

Again silent, she places her tile on the board

The second can't help herself, utters Oy vei


The third gives in, Oy veis meir

OK, Says the fourth

I thought we weren't going to talk about our children

~ Steve Zeitlin

Six Differences between a Joke and a Poem

1/ A joke is something your mother couldn't tell;

a poem is the same thing, but with your father.

2/ Jokes don't get better the more you hear them.

3/ The answer to a joke: "To get to the other side."

The answer to a poem: "To see time fly."

4/ Freud never had to write a book called

Poems and Their Relation to the Unconscious.

5/ A joke repeated is a rotten banana;

a poem repeated is a fermented grape.

6/ A joke never waits for you.

~ Zev Shanken

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