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What a story

Once upon a time . . . Dvora Shurman, founder of the Oppenheimer Storytellers

On Sunday morning, April 14, ESRA Tel Aviv hosted the Oppenheimer Storytellers for the third time. This year the occasion was special - celebrating the 20th anniversary of 'Oppies'. It was also the 88th birthday of the founder, Dvora Shurman.

Everyone loves a good story, so we read fiction, see feature films and watch television serials. But there is something about listening to a story direct from the teller that makes an impact that no book, film or video achieves. This was felt by the very appreciative audience at Beit Ariella.

Phella Hirschson opened the presentation with an appreciation of Dvora: dedicated, devoted and determined to maintain an English storytelling platform in Israel. Without her, Phella said, English-speaking storytellers would be at a complete loss, as would English-speaking listeners. Happily, we have Dvora in our community.

Most of the tellers have previously told stories at ESRA meetings. First, Dvora told of her experiences with storytelling in New York, and how these led to her establishing the Oppenheimer Storytelling Center 20 years ago in Tel Aviv. Later in the program Dvora told the story of the mother mouse that barked – short, sweet and, as she pointed out, very educational.

Ascher Shlain has a wealth of stories on Jewish themes. He has a story carrying a moral or a laugh for every situation and occasion. He told of the only time the 'hassid ' was bested by a woman. His second story was his marvelous version of the blessings, taught to an unimpressive pupil who, years later, has the opportunity to bless his former teacher.

Rica Goldin told about her 'horror cleaner' who insisted upon turning up at inconvenient times, especially when a meal was likely. This ended in a literal nightmare.

Teddy Kaplan was introduced as the sportsman of the storytelling team. He told of the veteran athletes who inspired him to follow their example by becoming and remaining as fit as they were. We also heard of the two runners in the 90 - 94 age category who ran even though one of them couldn't see the finish line, and walked back to the supporters hand-in-hand, to deafening cheers and a few tears.

Phella also told about her cats and dog – the tale of a tail. What was thought to be a piece of string turned out to be a rat's tail. Both she and Rica had 'ESRA Stories' to tell. Rica's was the saga of delivering an ESRA magazine. Phella recounted the conversation in a very strange telephone call about joining the Short Story Discussion Group.

Rinah Sheleff now tells stories professionally (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Her first story was about the bridge at Chelm. What would a storytelling session be without at least one Chelm story? Rinah spoke very movingly about the cellist who played music in the ruins of Srebenica, in memory of those who had been killed, speaking over a recording of that music. She reminded us that our Holocaust Remembrance Day had just passed. Rinah ended the presentation with a story about the Baal Shem Tov and the fire in the forest, showing the power of stories.

The stories brought sadness, satisfaction and many laughs. Audience and tellers enjoyed themselves. Clearly storytelling is alive and well.

Thanks are due to Aggie van der Laan, the coordinator of the ESRA morning meetings, and thanks again to Dvora. A number of listeners expressed interest in joining "Oppies". Contact Doreen Bliss (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Dvora (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 



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