The Wise Folk of Chelm (Paperback)

By Seymour Rossel

Rossel Books, 9780940646438, 174pp.

Publication Date: August 26, 2013

List Price: 14.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


- Welcome to CHELM -

A cornucopia of irrepressible characters awaits within The Wise Folk of Chelm to welcome you to Europe's most famous town of fools. All this, author Seymour Rossel explains, is to bring the Chelm tradition into the twenty-first century. For the past hundred years, most Chelm stories have been published for children though only a handful of the tales are child-appropriate. It is no great surprise that the same few stories regularly reappear while many of the best of the stories-those that have amused and bemused adults since the seventeenth century-largely go unseen.

For a decade, Rossel has combed the traditional Yiddish, Hebrew, and English canons of Chelm stories. He has turned up fascinating research on the origins of Chelm. He has experimented with telling the stories in so many ways to so many different groups that colleagues have taken to calling him "the Houstoner Maggid," which loosely translates as "the parable-maker from Houston." Indeed, it has been said--mainly by his wife and children--and with some justification--that he knows his way around Chelm better than around Houston.

The Wise Folk of Chelm is Rossel's new vision of the classic tales. First, the new heroes and heroines you will want to meet... Second, new streets to walk with them, new caf's and shops wherein to laugh with them, and new chances to attend the flamboyant, ever-surprising deliberations of Chelm's town council... Third, Rossel serves up a new kind of narrative that begs to be read out loud. He calls it "narrative slapstick" or "slapstick narrative." You'll call it entertainment.


"The Wise Folk of Chelm is a delightful foray into the topsy-turvy world of the men and women of Chelm. A sweet, modern telling that will rekindle fond memories for those who grew up with the stories and bring smiles and laughter to those who have never before encountered Chelm." -- Bob Alper, rabbi and standup comic, author of Life Doesn't Get Any Better Than This and A Rabbi Confesses

About the Author

I am Seymour Rossel. I love a good story (ask anyone) and I have been collecting, writing, editing, publishing, discussing, lecturing on, speaking about, and telling good stories throughout my career. I use stories in my teaching and (as a rabbi) in my preaching. I gifted stories to my children like a legacy of family jewels and now I am privileged to gift stories to my grandchildren. I think The Wise Folk of Chelm can be treasured and gifted, especially if the stories are shared out loud. People I know (even some professional publishers) tell me that publishing has become increasingly difficult-with local bookstores giving way to internet warehouses, reviewers having fewer major outlets, and (so it is claimed) people reading less. I acknowledge these changes but also note some positive ones. Publishing, I think, is becoming more intimate--word of good reads spreads from friend to friend, among family members, and widens through the web. Books can depend less on exaggerated and expensive advertising and more on merit. And new opportunities exist for interaction between author and readers. So I invite you to discuss your Chelm experience with me. You can find a formal biography of me at Wikipedia. You can reach me by email from my site And you can friend me in all the usual places. Let's share some good stories.