Tales of the great Jewish mystics; Howard Schwartz, PhD, Professor Of English, University of Missouri-St. Louis

There is a substantial body of Jewish mystical tales that constitute the legendary dimension of the Jewish mystical tradition. These tales cover a range of mystical experiences, not only of mystical union but of visions, dreams, soul travel, encounters with angels and demons, possession by both good and evil spirits, miracles and experiences out of body and out of time. This lecture is based on the stories collected in Gabriel’s Palace: Jewish Mystical Tales, edited by Howard Schwartz.

Howard Schwartz is Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has published three books of poetry, Vessels, Gathering the Sparks and Sleepwalking Beneath the Stars, and several books of fiction, including The Four Who Entered Paradise and Adam’s Soul. He has also edited a four-volume set of Jewish folktales, which includes Elijah’s Violin and Other Jewish Fairy Tales, Miriam’s Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from Around the World, Lilith’s Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural, and, most recently, Gabriel’s Palace: Jewish Mystical Tales. He has also edited three major anthologies. Reimagining the Bible: The Storytelling of the Rabbis, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for 1999. In addition, Schwartz has also published ten children’s books, including The Diamond Tree, which won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in 1992, Next Year in Jerusalem: 3000 Years of Jewish Tales (which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Aesop Award of the American Folklore Society, both in 1996), A Coat for the Moon (with Barbara Rush, which won Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award for 1998 and the 1999 Honor Title of the Storytelling World Awards, and The Day the Rabbi Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of Magic (which won the National Jewish Book Award and The Aesop of the American Folklore Society for 2000). His book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, won the National Jewish Book Award in 2005, and his children’s book Before You Were Born won the Koret Jewish Book Award the same year. His most recent book is Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales. Schwartz lives in St. Louis with his wife Tsila, a calligrapher.