Seha the wise clown transmits Moroccan-Jewish values

Seha the Clown (and his alter ego, Seha the Sage) has long been the central character in  Jewish folktales from Morocco. Now Marc Eliany (with an introduction by Annette Fromm) has assembled stories told to him by his grandparents in a new book.

Jewish Folktales from Morocco: Tales of Seha the Sage and Seha the Clown (Sephardic and Mizrahi Studies) by [Marc Eliany, Annette B. Fromm]

Seha, the traditional wise man-fool in Jewish Morocco is a popular fictional hero in simple, yet rich tales, playful yet witty enough to provide life lessons with commitment to social fairness and mutual respect. In this collection of tales the author introduces readers to his grandparents and the lessons they imparted. Through humorous Seha tales, the author transmits deeply engrained Jewish values, accentuated in accompanying socio-historical commentaries, which shed light on the evolution of Seha as a popular fictional hero, as well as, on processes of social change and modernization experienced by Moroccan Jews subject to three national movements competing for their soul in Israel, France and Morocco.

Endorsements: “Eliany’s tales of Seha the Sage and Seha the Clown convey with humor and wit the colors, shades, flavors and fragrances of community values that bridge folktales to social-history, social change and modernization in Jewish Morocco. Eliany’s work indicates that recounting thousands of years of a community’s history requires telling its folktales too.” —Dr. Dan Albo, Bar Ilan University. Israel.

“With this volume, Marc Eliany becomes a transformational agent who introduces to readers the tales of Seha that he heard in his family’s oral tradition. The sage-clown, who could be a trickster and a fool, represents two aspects of wisdom in the folklore of many peoples. Seha joins a gallery of Jewish wise-clowns in Ashkenazic and Sephardic narratives.” — Prof. Dan Ben Amos, University of Pennsylvania, USA

“Through the memories of his beloved grandparents, the author transmits his appreciation for the humor, way of life and values of Moroccan Jewry. They present us the witty character Seha, which has been enjoyed by many generations of both children and adults. We are grateful for the author’s works which preserve the culture of Moroccan Jewry which has been transmuted by modernity and emigration.” —Prof. David Bensoussan, Université du Québec, Canada.

“Eliany’s allegorical tales, convey with wit a community quest for intercultural respect and emancipation. Entertaining and informative.” —Dr. Yigal Bin-Nun, Paris VIII University, France.



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