Telling stories, to tell and retell - www.jewishaz.com: Arts & Features

Telling stories, to tell and retell

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Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 12:00 am

"And you shall tell it to your children," the essence of the Passover retelling, evokes the responsibility not only to tell and retell our stories but to use them to inspire the making of new ones. The questions asked around the seder table play on freedom and responsibility, seeking to inspire thought not only on the past but on what these ideas mean present and future. How best to provoke such meaningful conversation? Perhaps by choosing pre-seder reading that probes essential human and moral questions and prods us to consider answers. Following are two books, each a collection of stories, one nonfiction, the other not, each sure to open conversation, each in its own way.

"Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times" (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $24 hardcover) is the work of writer Eyal Press. Its title, as Press explains in the book, comes from the Hebrew expression yafeh nefesh, beautiful soul, which has an Israeli connotation of naivete. Yet, it is such simple beauty, such spare moral clarity, perhaps naivete, that empowers each of the four individuals whose stories Press chooses to tell.

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