Life in Chelm—Jewish storytelling for all ages and religions

The Brothers Schlemiel Book Cover - illustration "The Blue House" by Marc Chagal

Looking for programs with humor and heart?
Want to inspire storytelling in your community?

Mark Binder has a huge array of original and true stories filled with laughter and delight. An award-winning Jewish writer and storyteller, Mark Binder will bring you a wide assortment of programs for young people, families, seniors and adults.

“Storytelling crosses generational boundaries,” Mark explains. “Broadening the minds of youngsters, it also connects adults with the joys of listening to literature.”

Mark Binder’s Jewish Stories are for ANY religion, ALL affiliations and EVERY generation.

Mark began writing stories and books of Chelm as the editor of the Rhode Island Jewish Herald. Since then he has written more than 100 stories and a novel of Chelm. His book, “A Hanukkah Present” was shortlisted for the National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature.

As a storyteller, he has performed for congregations and religious schools, senior groups, adults and high schoolers in synagogues, schools, churches and community centers across the United States.

Programs include

Hanukkah, Passover, New Year, Harvest, Springtime, Tu b’SHevat, Purim, Telling Family Stories, Challah Baking, Stories for Peace and Harmony, Wisdom, Food and Fools and more.

Workshops include

Explorations of Jewish identity • Telling Stories Across Generations (recording and preserving family stories)

Drop us an email ( or call us at (401) 272-8707 for questions and to book dates.

You can check out his books and stories of Chelm here.


“Mark Binder is a real person who tells real stories from the heart! He touches all ages with universal tales… He is a consummate professional, who entertains with ease and joy. Every time he has performed here at the Yiddish Book Center he has surprised and delighted our audiences.”
—Program Director, National Yiddish Book Center

“Mark was wonderful in every sense of the word.  His stories were heartwarming and engaging. Thank you Mark for spreading your unique brand of joy!”
— Rabbi Max Davis, Congregation B’nai Torah

For Booking Information…

Please contact Beth Hellman (, click here,
or call us at (401) 272-8707 to discuss possibilities.

Mark Binder’s Life in Chelm Bibliography

  • The Brothers Schlemiel: The epic novel of Chelm. Abraham and Adam Schlemiel are identical twins, born in the village of fools and confused from birth. Originally published in an abridged version by JPS (2008), this edition restores the complete text of the original 100 installment serialization and features a beautiful cover illustrated by Marc Chagal
  • A Hanukkah Present: Eleven original stories and a novella from the village of Chelm. Includes, “The Lethal Latkes” and the origin of “A Hanukkah Present.”
  • Matzah Mishugas: From the Mrs. Chaipul’s lead sinker matzah balls to the “Mega Matzah” here are eight original Passover stories from the village of Chelm that will delight readers and listeners of all ages.
  • The Misadventures of Rabbi Kibbitz and Mrs. ChaipulShe owns the only restaurant in Chelm. He’s the wisest man in this village of fools. Together, they make an unlikely and lovable pair. 

Want a quick quote?

Please contact us. We keep costs reasonable, but fees vary depending on your needs.

In an era of tight budgets, we want to assure you that Mark’s programs are 100% worthwhile. We offer a money-back guarantee. We do offer discounts on block bookings, and can help with grant writing and funding possibilities. Skype/Video visits can also offer a lower-cost pathway for Mark to visit.

Mark’s Jewish Author and Storyteller Bio

For more than 20 years, Mark Binder has been creating stories – both written and spoken that transmit joy and celebrate Jewish life. As a writer, his four volumes of “Life in Chelm” transform the stereotypical village of fools into a living and breathing community rich with characters, humor and heart. Though based in a mythical past, the stories resonate with today’s issues and challenges. Because his audience are “readers of Jewish newspapers,” his stories can be enjoyed on many levels by young and old alike.

Two of his books, A Hanukkah Present, and the forthcoming The Misadventures of Rabbi Kibbitz and Mrs. Chaipul are “novels of stories.” They take individual stories (of holidays and weddings) and weave them together into a narrative arc. Matzah Mishugas is a more traditional collection of eight Passover Tales, and The Brothers Schlemiel is an entire novel spanning decades.

He began writing these stories as the editor of The Rhode Island Jewish Herald, and has published dozens of them in Jewish (and secular) newspapers and magazines around the world, including Hadassah, The Forward, Canadian Jewish News, Washington Jewish Week, and many more. His novel, The Brothers Schlemiel, was originally serialized over two years in the Houston Jewish Herald Voice. An abridged version was published by JPS. His collection A Hanukkah Present was a finalist for The National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature. The audio book was given a Storytelling World Storytelling Magazine Honor. His work has also been nominated for an Audie Award and won a Parents’ Choice Gold for Audio Storytelling. Both as a writer and as a performance storyteller he brings his work to live audience of all generations – from senior citizen through elementary schools, families and adults. A frequent presenter at the National Yiddish Book Center he has been invited to share his work with Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Chabad, Reconstructionist and Non-Affiliated Congregations.