The Power of Song And Other Sephardic Tales

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  • Rita Roth, PhD (author)
  • Alexa Ginsburg (illustrator)
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About the Book

From Hanina, the daughter of a Jewish tailor who cures a sultan’s only child by taming a lioness to get her milk, to Nahum Bilbas, the brave rabbi-in-training who dares to confront the great warrior El Cid in order to secure peace for the Jews of Valencia, the folktales in this delightful collection contain lessons, truths, surprises, and happy endings. To add to the reader’s enjoyment and understanding, each story is accompanied by Roth’s own commentary on its origin and meaning and a definition of some of the foreign words that appear in the tale. The author’s introduction gives a special insight into the history of Jewish folktales and specifically those of the Sephardic Jews. When the Jews fled the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 and scattered all over Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, they took with them the folktales that had become an integral part of their unique heritage. As they settled into their new homelands, they borrowed many of the literary devices and motifs from their adopted countries and added a unique flavor to the traditional Jewish story.


2007 National Jewish Book Award Winner in the category of Jewish Family Literature.


The stories are the perfect centerpiece for family storytelling . . . readers are taken on a ride through Jewish Mediterranean history.
—Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
This book is wonderful reading for young adults and adults to expand their knowledge of Sephardic culture.
—National Jewish Post & Opinion

Rita Roth, PhD

Rita Roth was, for twenty years, an associate professor in the education department at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. She received her master’s degree in teaching from Webster University in St. Louis and her doctorate in education from Washington University.

Alexa Ginsburg

Alexa Ginsburg holds a BFA from Cooper Union College. She is a graphic artist, a designer of homemade textiles, and the owner of a computer services company. She is the illustrator of Wise and Not So Wise: Ten Tales from the Rabbis (JPS 2004) and The Power of Song (JPS, 2007).

Study Guides


Q & A with the Author.

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