Tales of Chelm

A Four-Part Original Series

JArts TheatreWorks Group Presents

Tales of Chelm

On February 24, 2022, JArts will be streaming all four episodes in our Tales of Chelm series. We invite you to catch up on any episodes you might have missed, rewatch your favorite moments, and enjoy 41 minutes of fun and antics!

Watch the Tales of Chelm

Episode Summaries

Episode 1: “How the Town of Chelm Came to Be”

The first installment in the series, “How the Town of Chelm Came To Be” is an origin story told entirely through shadow puppetry. Audiences are invited to witness the plight of two angels, sent by God and instructed to create a more holistic society. The first angel collects wise folk to disperse among other populations. The second angel attempts to gather all of the foolish folk from across the land and places them in a sack; however, her plan is thwarted when the sack hits a tree, releasing its contents and resulting in a town inhabited exclusively by fools.

Run Time: 6 minutes

“How the Town of Chelm Came To Be”

Episode 2: “To Catch a Thief”

“To Catch a Thief” explores the friendship that inadvertently blossoms between Gedaliah the Goniff and Zalman Shlomo the Gate Keeper. Told entirely through puppetry, the episode opens with Gedaliah stealing a coin purse from Reb Fishel, the town mayor. Zalman Shlomo attempts to pursue Gedaliah, only to be tricked by him in a variety of idiotic ways. As the narrative progresses, Gedaliah’s plans to evade Shlomo become increasingly ridiculous.

Run Time: 13 minutes

“To Catch a Thief”

Episode 3: “How the Chelmites Stole the Moon”

In this third installment in the Chelm series, Gimpel and Barel the Beadle concoct a plan to capture the moon and help the poor citizens of Chelm. Gimpel proposes that they capture the moon by bringing in a big barrel of borscht. When the moon is reflected in barrel, they seal and cover it to “entrap” it. However, upon uncovering the barrel, they realize that they have made a crucial mistake. This installment is jam-packed with zaniness and utilizes mask work.

Run Time: 8 minutes

“How the Chelmites Stole the Moon”

Episode 4: “Winter of Discontent”

In the final segment of the series, audience members witness the Chelmites bemoan their situation for the very first time. The inhabitants of Chelm acknowledge the extreme disparity between the rich and poor folk, concluding that there is no true justice in Chelm. They therefore send two members of the community to go seek justice elsewhere. When these two Chelmites come across others who claim to have an entire warehouse filled with barrels of justice, they jump at the opportunity to procure one. However, upon returning to Chelm, they discover that the barrel isn’t filled with justice at all, but something else entirely. Ultimately, the Rabbi of Chelm guides everyone towards a deeper understanding of the very nature of fairness.

Run Time: 14 minutes

“Winter of Discontent”

About Tales of Chelm

The JArtsTM TheatreWorks production of Tales of Chelm is based on the book, “The Wise Folk of Chelm” by Rabbi Seymour Rossel.

Adaptors Jesse Garlick and Dori Robinson approach classic Jewish folktales through a modern lens in Tales of Chelm, reimagined by JArts TheatreWorks. Composed of four segments,  Tales of Chelm  utilizes innovate performance techniques, such as puppets, masks and clowning, to tell the stories of the people of Chelm— Eastern European villagers who considered themselves uniquely wise, and whose antics have been amusing us since the sixteenth century. Learn how the town of Chelm came to be, follow along as they attempt the seemingly impossible, and discover why Jewish culture has rendered these stories immortal. Zany fun for all ages! 

Read About Chelm:

“What You Always Wanted To Know About Chelm Before You Ever Knew About Chelm” by Rabbi Seymour Rossel

“Celebrating Chelm, or Shlimazel Tov” by Stuart J. Hecht

Q&A with Adaptor Jesse Garlick and Author Judy Bolton-Fasman

Download our Tales of Chelm Coloring Page, the perfect supplementary activity for young audiences:


Jesse Garlick is a Boston based actor, director and theater educator. 

Off-Broadway credits: Good  (PTP/Atlantic), Who Would Be King  (Ars Nova/Liars & Believers). Regional credits: A Christmas Carol, Journey to the West, Arcadia  (Central Square Theatre)  Good, Assassins, A Midsummer Night’s Dream  (New Repertory Theatre) Who Would Be King, Yellow Bird Chase, A Story Beyond  (Liars & Believers),  Hamlet, As You Like It (Brown Box Theatre Project)  Salome (Bridge Rep) Beowulf (Poets Theatre). Jesse is a former faculty member at the Boston Ballet’s ECI Department. In addition, Jesse has taught acting, devising and movement at numerous schools and summer programs across the Northeast. Jesse holds a BFA in acting from Boston University as well as having attended the Academia Dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy and Shakespeare&Company in Lenox, MA. He is currently an MFA candidate at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University as well as acting Education Director for the Boston based devising company Liars & Believers, with whom he will be bringing the original deaf-accessible play Yellow Bird Chase to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2022. 

Dori Robinson is a director, playwright, dramaturg, and educator. She seeks and develops projects that explore social consciousness, personal heritage, and the difference one individual has on their community. Some of her great loves are the Oxford comma, trees, intersectional feminism, and exchanging with artistic collaborators. 

With a Masters degree from New York University’s  Educational Theatre  program, Dori has been a director and experiential educator for years.  As an avid teaching artist, she shares her love of Shakespeare, new play development, physical theatre, political theatre, and gender in performance. Directing credits include: Silent Sky (Elliot Norton Winner for Best Production – Fringe, Flat Earth Theatre), A Bright Room Called DayJulius Caesar (co-director), The Merchant of VeniceDie Kleinen (Parts 1 & 2), The Lion in WinterExtremitiesFlightPippinJames and the Giant Peach, and Peter and the Starcatcher. Dori’s original plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Boston, including: The Great HarvestThe Principal StreamName of a WomanSix Wings to One, and most recently The Elm Tree with her company, Alight Theater Guild.


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