Enlivening The Stories Of Our Tradition

Brian was honored in 2013 by JT News as one of 10 Jewish people under 40 who are doing important and inspirational works within in the community.  Click here for more information.

Storyteller Brian Rohr -- Image by JeffCamPhoto.com
Image by JeffCamPhoto.com

“The oral tradition of storytelling offers insight, inspiration and meaning in our
own journey as we travel our unique Jewish Path.”  -Brian Rohr

Using cultural folktales as well as story’s from the Torah and other sacred texts, Storyteller Brian Rohr lifts the stories out of their usual written context and brings them to life in the realm of the oral tradition.  Through doing so, we are invited to find ourselves within the ancient stories and find a deeper understanding of how the sharing of the stories in this way offers us new perspectives within our tradition.

“Your presence here over S’lichot was such a blessing to all of us. [The storytelling] truly set the tone not only for the evening, but for our ongoing learning about belonging, believing and becoming. Thank you once again for your special spirit that you brought to that evening.” -Rabbi Stephen Hart, Temple Chai in Long Grove, IL

Brian has performed and taught for a number of Jewish communities and organization throughout the country.  A selected list includes:

– The 14th International Jewish Renewal Aleph Kallah,

– The P’nai Or and Havurah Shalom communities in Oregon,

– As an Artist-In-Resident at Camp Solomon Schechter located in Olympia, WA,

– Temple Chai located in the Chicagoland area

– Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, WA.

– Congregation Bet Shira in Port Townsend, WA

– A Keynote Performer at the “Tapestry of Jewish Learning” in Austin, TX

– Tell It Like It Is: Portland’s Jewish Storytelling Festival and more

Honi the Circle Maker 
14th International Aleph Kallah in Redlands, CA.
7min 56Sec (Complete Story)
**Please note that the beginning of the video is shaky, because the camera is handheld. The camera steadies itself after just a few moments.

Audio Sample:

Short 2 min. audio clip from region-wide performance of the Hearing Lightning, Seeing Thunder event.

“Brian, I would like to take the time to thank you for your work as a story telling artist at Bet session this summer. I was very pleasantly surprised with the level of detail in your planning for running both the daily activity session that you ran and the all camp program. I have spoken with many of the campers and staff about your time here at Schechter and the feedback was that you were fun, interesting and very easy to work with. I love the way that you involved and immersed yourself in camp while you were here. Story telling is an easy way for camp to reach its goal to Jewishly educate informally, and you put together an excellent program for camp at a very reasonable price. Thank you again.” -Sam Perlin, Executive Director, Camp Solomon Schechter

Examples of Jewish Storytelling Programs that are offered (but not limited to):

1) Calling the Sacred: Stories of Connecting with the Divine – In this program, Brian will share stories drawn from Jewish and other cultures, showing the human need for a direct relationship with the Divine.  During this time, we will explore how so often that connection we long for comes from those strange and hidden parts of ourselves, and our community, that we regularly choose to ignore in favor of being civil and accepted.

2) From Trickster to Patriarch: Jacob’s Initiatory Journey  – In his performance, Brian will lift the story of Jacob out of its usual context of the written Torah and bring it to life in the realm of the oral tradition.  During this telling, we will hear about his adventures with his brother Esau, stealing the birthright and blessing, running away from home, falling in love with his beloved, being betrayed by his uncle, his dark night of his soul and ultimately a great reunion.  This is his story of moving through his initiation into adulthood, from a trickster to a patriarch.  (This is a full-length performance which can also be shared as a shorter excerpt or turned into a more intimate workshop setting)

3) Finding Miracles: Stories of Darkness and Light – In this program, the listener is invited to connect with the magic and energy inherent in the holiday of Chanukah.  Through stories of miracles, darkness and the hidden light we will be reminded of our own miraculous journeys and learn to celebrate them amongst the ancient tales.

4) Hearing Lightning, Seeing Thunder  –  In this performance, we journey with Moses and our ancestors to the base of Sinai, where we as a people have regularly returned for thousands of years, ready to connect with the divine.  In this program we will explore ritual preparation, connection, fear and awe as we delve into the meaning and mysteries of a sacred covenant.

Throughout the evening for any of these events (or another), participants will be invited to find themselves within these old stories.  In this way we all become more than just audience, we become participants in this ancient act, feeding our soul with the nourishment gifted by our ancestors.

“Brian, thank YOU! It was a pleasure working with you and learning with you! You created an experience specifically for our students, meeting them where they were at and crafted a story that helped personalize and contextualize our congregational learning theme for the year. I appreciate that we spent time planning together and you came prepared and ready to work with our students while being quite flexible and accommodating. I’d recommend your workshops for other high school students anytime!”  – Laura Siegel Perpinyal, Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Chai