Joseph from Chełm goes to Warsaw
Written by: Shalom Zuckerman & Amit Azaz
Illustrated by: Ron Levin
Many of the stories about the wise men of Chełm make us smile and trigger our compassion. They are amusing because they remind us of ourselves in moments of ridicule or embarrassment…
The tales about the wise men of Chełm are passed down from one generation to the next. They bring worlds that are no longer back to us, while at the same time being relevant to the life of any person, at any time, anywhere. The same is true for this story of Joseph, who leaves Chełm for Warsaw, and inadvertently returns to his beloved town and friends, who love the place in which they live just as much as he does. Like the wise men of Chełm, many people care about the place in which they live, as the Talmud says:
The favor of a place in the estimation of its inhabitants
[Babylonian Talmud, Sotah, 47a]
The story of Joseph invites us to look kindly upon our town, its homes, balconies, and neighbors.
The Wise Men of Chełm
Chełm is a city in Poland, and in Jewish folklore, it is the hometown of the wise men of Chełm, who are not actually all that smart: they are ridiculous and naïve, and their stupidity is often depicted with a smile and much compassion. The wise men of Chełm have become known for their silliness and pointless actions, and are the protagonists of many amusing tales. The term "wise men of Chełm" has come to mean those who act irrationally and absurdly. The stories about the wise men of Chełm can be found in collections and anthologies for both children and adults.
Reading together, experiencing together