Wise and Not So Wise Ten Tales from the Rabbis

  • Phillis Gershator (author)
  • Alexa Ginsburg (illustrator)
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About the Book

Ages 6 and up.

Talmudic and midrashic folklore use the teachings of the ancient sages to answer questions and teach moral lessons, often with a dash of humor. In this delightful collection of stories, Phillis Gershator takes these spiritual and folkloric elements and weaves them together with her own unique humor and wisdom to create a very special version of the wondrous tales that have captivated readers for centuries.

Gershator, inspired by hearing talmudic and midrashic tales from her late father-in-law (a rabbi), has assembled ten of her favorites in this volume. Stories of flying rabbis, miraculous loaves of bread, wise women, muscle-bound angels, and goats that carry bears on their heads will enchant children of all ages and those who read to them.

From “Making It Rain,” about a husband and wife who helped bring rain to a parched land, to “The Observant Cow,” a religious cow who manages to convert a nonbeliever into an observant Jew, each story contains lessons, truths, jokes, surprises, and happy endings. Author’s notes help readers understand the subtle meaning of each story.


A 2005 National Jewish Book Award Finalist


This delightful collection of stories…blends wisdom with humor… the illustrations and inviting format join with the stories to comprise one outstanding package!

—Jewish Book World

This appealing book is enticing to read.
—Hadassah Magazine

An appealing collection … written in simple yet effective language that preserves their richness and charm without becoming didactic.

—School Library Journal

Phillis Gershator

Phillis Gershator is the author of 20 books for children, including Honi’s Circle of Trees (JPS, 1995). Gershator, who lives in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, is a former children’s librarian and a longtime RIF volunteer. She is a recipient of the Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award.

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).

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