cover image Yiddish Folktales

Yiddish Folktales

. Pantheon Books, $21.95 (413pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54618-6

The repetitive nature, didacticism and brevity (some are a mere paragraph long) of its tales limits the appeal of this newest volume in Pantheon's Fairy Tale and Folklore Library; it has considerable value as a reference tool but not as an absorbing collection of short stories. Weinreich, a research associate at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, culls from YIVO's archives 178 examples of moral allegories, religious stories with ethical messages, children's, fairy and humorous tales, and legends of saints, villains and supernatural demons. Much here has a Jewish flavor: rabbis and Elijah the Prophet people stories set on Passover, Sukkoth or the Sabbath. But one is also struck by the similarity of many of these tales to those gathered by the Brothers Grimmreaders will wish for greater documentation of dates and sources and more analytical material comparing this work and its elements to others in the folklore genre, as well as discussing its place in Yiddish literature. (Nov).