Maggid David Arfa
16 Wilde Road
I was born and raised in Suburban Detroit. My dreams were of Paul Bunyan, visiting the moon and playing with the glorious Detroit Tigers. We were all surprised that I discovered meaning in storytelling, forests and Jewish education. I became hooked on storytelling when I witnessed the ability of stories to leap directly into the hearts of toddling four year old's, the coolest of teens and serious adults.
Nearly 15 years ago, I reclaimed the role of Maggid by bringing stories to prayer services, family programs, and interfaith events. I've also produced two storytelling cd's:
"The Birth of Love: Tales for the Days of Awe", contains ancient mythology, old world Yiddish tales (set in my neighborhood of the Berkshire foothills), and other stories first told at High Holyday services
"The Life and Times of Herschel of Ostropol: The Greatest Prankster Ever To Live", is filled with light-hearted tales and introduces the quick-witted and beloved Ida of Ostopol,
"The Jar of Tears: A Memorial for the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto" is a full-length storytelling performance that won the Charles Hildebrandt Holocaust Studies Award in honor of its artistic excellence, depth of vision and technical mastery.
My Jewish journey deepened over twenty years ago with a year of classical text study in a Jerusalem Yeshiva. It was there I first discovered Judaism’s ancient love affair with the natural world. Combined with my M.S. in Environmental Education, back in the early 90's, I worked with Ellen Bernstein at Shomrei Adamah, and then developed the Shalom Center's Eco-Shalom Corps with Arthur Waskow. Over the years, I've enjoyed creating and leading innovative environmental programs for the Jewish community. I'm particularly interested in the roles of wonder, grief and hope play in both environmental activism and Jewish spirituality.
During the summer of 2012, I trained a cadre of young Maggidim, of young tellers, and created the first Storytelling program at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI). BCI is a month long arts immersion and Jewish study program for 19-26 year olds located in Southern California. In addition, I’ve performed and taught at a variety of venues including Limmud Boston, the Teva Seminar, Hazon, CAJE the Aleph Kallah and Poland’s International Storytelling Festival.
I’ve also developed Try Stories for a Change workshops based upon the work of Marshal Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. These workshops, built around intimate story circles, help participants find their own stories to build volunteers, raise funds and activate communities.
Along the way, assorted odd jobs have helped make ends meet, including bread baking, map-making, database building, Jewish teen educating, Hebrew school principal-ing, and teaching new Americans digital literacy. WARNING: Don’t get me started on the dark shadow side of computing (assorted essays at www.maggiddavid.net/blog). These jobs have funded additional training including courses at Hebrew College, DLTI, an innovative two year course in prayer leadership, and many great learning seminars.
A little known fact about David is that he is a “Shretelech guide” (Yiddish for the magical little people). He draws on his experience as an environmental educator and leads “Shretelech Expeditions”. Kids spot the kindly Shretelech easily, however adults usually have less luck. At the very least, everyone enjoys the quiet pleasures of field and forest, a taste of Judaism’s ancient environmental wisdom, and a few good stories.