Saturday, January 03, 2009


NY, NY, December 12, 2008 - Storahtelling & HUC-JIR announces the first Maven Training Course for seminary students and alumni of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in NYC from January 5th – 9th, 2009.

Rabbi Howard Goldsmith (30) of Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue, already known in his community as an innovative and charismatic leader, is ready to become an official “maven”. Goldsmith will join 25 other professional rabbis, cantors, educators and students in downtown NYC for Storahtelling’s first Maven training course specially tailored for the future leaders of the Reform Movement.

Isa Aron, professor of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR in LA said, “Storahtelling's approach is so powerful and so important in increasing the level of learning and engagement in congregations. Maven training is truly the next frontier.”

Maven is Hebrew for “expert’” a term originally used in the Bible to describe the role of the oral translator of Hebrew Scripture into local language. Until the early Middle Ages, Mavens regularly interpreted Torah to the general public, serving as storytellers and educators, enabling multi-generational access to Jewish literacy. The Maven profession faded out of Jewish life a thousand years ago, but has been restored by Storahtelling over the past decade, meeting modern needs for meaning with a unique and visionary integration of education and the arts. “To face the challenges of a global reality we need change makers that think globally”, says Amichai Lau-Lavie, Storahtelling’s founder and executive director. “Jewish illiteracy is clearly one of Judaism’s greatest challenges, worldwide. Restoring the role of the Maven is a great way of meeting this challenge and providing the global Jewish community, in its widest sense with real access to the Jewish conversation”.

Rabbi Renni Altman, Associate Dean and Director of the Rabbinical Program for the New York Campus of HUC-JIR says, “We are so excited to be able to offer to our students and alumni the opportunity to be trained in the innovative approach to interpreting Torah that has been created by Storahtelling. It is very much in harmony with the goals of HUC-JIR to provide our students with exposure to the most current and creative approaches to worship, study and congregational life. This Maven-In-The-Making training will significantly enrich our students’ professional development as rabbis, cantors and educators and will enable our alumni to better serve the changing needs of their communities.”

Storahtelling, since its establishment in 1999, has worked closely with the Union for Reform Judaism, promoting Storahtelling’s methods in congregations, schools, conferences and summer camps nationwide. The Maven Training Course in NYC is the organic next step in this successful partnership. HUC-JIR invited its student body and alumni to participate in Storahtelling’s inaugural training from January 5-9th. Fourteen students and twelve professional clergy, educators and community organizers have been selected for the training.

Storahtelling has been leading Maven Training courses since 2006, making Mavens out of 75 Jewish educators, artists, clergy and lay leaders all over the world – including London, Chicago, Jerusalem, Cleveland, and Riverdale, NY. Rose Community Foundation in Denver just announced its generous support of a new multi-denominational Maven Training cohort in Colorado, which will be launched in 2009. In this vein, Storahtelling has been recognized by the Slingshot Guide as one of the top 50 innovative Jewish organizations for 4 years is a row.

For additional information on the Storahtelling Maven-In-The-Making training at HUC-JIR, please contact Naomi Less – 212-245-8188. For information on upcoming Storahtelling events or to make a contribution to Storahtelling, please visit:

ABOUT STORAHTELLINGStorahtelling is a pioneer in Jewish education via the arts and new media. Through innovative leadership training programs and theatrical performances, Storahtelling makes ancient stories and traditions accessible for new generations, advancing Judaic literacy and raising social consciousness. Established in 1999, Storahtelling has been identified as a “trailblazer of the Jewish World” (Bnai Brith magazine), inspiring “reverence and relevance” (the Washington Post) and hailed by Time Out NY as “Super Stars of David.”

ABOUT HEBREW UNION – COLLEGE JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION (HUC-JIR) - Founded in 1875, HUC-JIR is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise renowned library and museum collections, the American Jewish Archives, biblical archaeology excavations, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs which illuminate Jewish history, identity, and contemporary creativity and which foster interfaith and multiethnic understanding.

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