Storytelling – Wit and Wisdom from a Wondering Jew

From my days as a drama major at the University of Michigan, through working at summer camps, schools and synagogues, I’ve developed a particular performance style.  There is a subtle but significant difference between storytelling and acting.  An actor performs a script, written by somebody else, and becomes a character.  He relates to other characters on stage, and the audience is permitted to eavesdrop, but they are not part of the conversation.

A storyteller is having a conversation with the audience.  He may take on character qualities, but is in essence himself, sharing from his soul.

My performances are designed to be entertaining, educational and enlightening.  I customize every storytelling program to fit whatever audience is listening.  Young children, seniors, college students, teenagers and special needs groups all enjoy the stories.

Both Jewish and secular  enjoy these universal tales.  I have programs that bring in stories from different cultures, such as Asian, Native American, etc, that appeal to a more general audience.  Much of my work was cultivated through working with colleagues at CAJE (The Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education), where I was a frequent presenter, performer and teacher.  In the years preceding the CAJE conference’s transitions, I co-chaired the National Jewish Storytelling Network.

I’ve also led many workshops for educators, some through Young Audiences of Houston.  In 1997, I was awarded an “Apple Award” by the Texas Institute for Arts in Education.  In 2001, I was invited as guest lecturer/scholar in residence, presenting 15 sessions to educators at Texas A & M University on the importance of multicultural storytelling in the classroom.

While all the programs are modified and customized, here are some popular themes:

Performance Themes

 Stories of the Sages

Tales of the wise rabbis and how they solve issues

Unlikely Elijahs

Unique but real people who have entered our lives to provide a deep and unexpected message

Choices and Challenges

Particularly powerful for teens and young adults, these stories emphasize the difficulties of making hard choices.

Depending on the desire of your group, the program may be as much a motivational speech, with stories focused on themes such as leadership, working together and building community.

Storytelling Workshops

Learn how to tell stories and the impact of storytelling through various workshops and seminars, including:

The Tell-tale Tale of Telling Tales

A “how-to” workshop that teaches performance techniques.

The Power of Story

A workshop designed to emphasize how storytelling can be used in various personal and professional situations for the most impact.

Your Story is History

Creating oral histories and developing your personal story to create a legacy

The Art of Listening – Understanding the “Other” through Story

The story behind the story is often very telling.  This workshop is about the art of listening, and how listening helps increase understanding.  It is for building strong relationships, whether within your own family or with those from other races and cultures.

See what others are saying about Rabbi Dan Gordon’s storytelling