Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Storahtelling" Brings Torah to Theatrical Life in Tampa Bay
by Jon Adam Ross
Dec. 15, 2009

Widely acclaimed Jewish theatre artist Jon Adam Ross will bring Torah to life this weekend through “Storahtelling” at Congregation Rodeph Sholom and Congregation Beth Am in Tampa, as well as Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater. Through storytelling, character pieces and dramatic performance, Ross will tell the story about Joseph and Pharaoh's dreams (Parsha Miketz) at all three congregations.

Ross, a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is a founding company member of Storahtelling, which makes ancient stories and traditions accessible for new generations through dramatic performance.

“I’ll be bringing theater into the sanctuary – providing a tool for accessing the text of the Torah,” said Ross. “A lot of people feel a disconnect between the ritual of reading Torah and their own lives. Prayer is personal, but this is a world we don’t identify with. Storahtelling tries to bridge that gap -performance gives you permission to access and own the stories of our tradition. You're no longer just looking at a book of text in your lap. You're actively engaged in the story.”

Ross also travels the country teaching Jewish educators how to use Storahtelling techniques with their students, and he will be teaching those techniques to Tampa Bay Jewish educators during a special training session this weekend as well. He estimates that more than 50 synagogues around the country have embraced Storahtelling techniques in their classrooms and services.

“A generation from now, kids learning through Storahtelling today can become people who do this as part of congregational life,” Ross said.

Congregation Beth Am is one of the local congregations welcoming Ross.

“Our job as Jewish leaders and Jewish educators is to try to make the Torah come alive, to show that it's not just an old book of stories, but a sacred book which helps us understand our own stories, and our own lives,” said Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am. “Storahtelling has been building a reputation as masters of just that. They build Jewish identity and knowledge through hands-on, fun, interactive, creative programs.”

“It’s about engaging the congregation,” said Judy Van Der Stelt, the Director of Education for Congregation Rodeph Sholom, which is also welcoming Ross to its sanctuary. “I’m so excited for our community to experience Storahtelling because it’s visible, it’s auditory, and it’s live. Just like going to the theater.”

Amichai Lau-Lavie, who founded Storahtelling in 1999, believes that Storahtelling events translate the Jewish legacy into accessible, exciting conversations, connecting Jews of all ages and backgrounds to the core values of Judaism.

”Storahtelling bridges the gap between modern Jews and ancient Judaism by focusing on the essential building blocks of Jewish identity: the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and the rituals that honor these inherited stories and enable us to wrestle with their modern meaning,” said Lau-Lavie.

Ross is currently on tour with his new solo show, "G-d of Our Fathers," in which he plays all the members of a fictional Jewish family living through a generation of assimilation. And he has performed his first solo show, "Walking in Memphis: The Life of a Southern Jew," Off-Broadway and around the globe.

For more information about Ross and Storahtelling, please visit and

-LMPK staff

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