Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit


Storytelling is a major component of Jewish tradition and this book honors that heritage with stories that celebrate the joys, sorrows and challenges of being Jewish. Some stories are timely and others are timeless, yet all are filled with heart-and, of course, love.

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Storytelling is a major component of Jewish tradition and this book honors that heritage with stories that celebrate the joys, sorrows and challenges of being Jewish. Some stories are timely and others are timeless, yet all are filled with heart-and, of course, love.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558748989
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/13/2001
  • Series: Chicken Soup for the Soul Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,565,424

Meet the Author

Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, #1 New York Times and USA Today best-selling coauthors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, are professional speakers who have dedicated their lives to enhancing the personal and professional development of others.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, #1 New York Times and USA Today best-selling coauthors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, are professional speakers who have dedicated their lives to enhancing the personal and professional development of others.

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is the spiritual leader of The Jewish Center of Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author and editor of over thirty books, including Hasidic Wisdom, Melodies from My Father's House, Forty Days of Transformation, and others. His bestselling book, Teaching People to Love Themselves, is used as a text in universities in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.


While Jack Canfield himself may not necessarily be a household name, it's very likely that you have heard of his famed Chicken Soup for the Soul series and nearly as likely that you have at least one of them sitting on your very own bookshelf! Having got his start as an inspirational speaker, Canfield's own story is nothing less than inspirational.

Jack Canfield had been traveling around delivering key note speeches and organizing workshops to help audiences build their self-esteem and maximize their potential when he had an in-flight brainstorm that changed his life. While flying home from a gig, Canfield realized that the very same advice he had been delivering during his in-person addresses could potentially form the basis of a book. Canfield used inspirational stories he'd gleaned over the years as the basis of his speeches, and he thought it would be a terrific idea to gather together 101 inspirational stories and anthologize them in a single volume. Upon returning home, Canfield approached friend and author Mark Victor Hansen about his concept. Hansen agreed it was a great idea, and the two men set about finding a publisher. Believe it or not, the mega-selling series was not an easy sell to publishers. "We were rejected by 123 publishers all told," Canfield told "The first time we went to New York, we visited with about a dozen publishers in a two day period with our agent, and nobody wanted it. They all said it was a stupid title, that nobody bought collections of short stories, that there was no edge -- no sex, no violence. Why would anyone read it?"

Canfield wisely practiced what he preached -- and persisted. Ultimately, he and Hansen sold the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book to a small press based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, called Health Communications. The rest, as they say, is history. There are currently 80 million copies of the Chicken Soup books in print, with subjects as varied as Chicken Soup For the Horse Lover's Soul and Chicken Soup For the Prisoner's Soul. Canfield and Hansen ranked as the top-selling authors of 1997 and are multiple New York Times bestsellers. Most important of all, the inspirational stories they have gathered in their many volumes have improved the lives of countless readers.

This year, expect to see Canfield's name gracing the covers of such titles as Chicken Soup For the Scrapbooker's Soul, Chicken Soup For the Mother and Son Soul, and Chicken Soup For the African American Woman's Soul. He and Hansen have also launched the all-new "Healthy Living" series and 8 titles in that series have already been released this year. There is also the fascinating You've GOT to Read This Book!, in which Canfield compiles personal accounts by 55 people each discussing a book that has changed his or her life. The most compelling of these may be the story of young entrepreneur Farrah Gray, who read Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success at the age of 11 and made his first million dollars at the age of 14!

With no sign of slowing down, Canfield continues to be an inspiration to millions, who fortunately refused to give up when it seemed as though he would never even get his first book published. "Mark and I are big believers in perseverance," he said. "If you have a vision and a life purpose, and you believe in it, then you do not let external events tell you what is so. You follow your internal guidance and follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell used to say."

Good To Know

Canfield is the founder of two California based self-esteem programs, "Self-Esteem Seminars" in Santa Barbara and "The Foundation For Self Esteem" in Culver City.

Writing the first Chicken Soup book was a lot more daunting than Canfield expected. After the first three years of research, he and Mark Victor Hansen had only compiled 68 stories -- 33 tales shy of their goal of 101 stories.

Along with co-writing dozens of full-length books, Canfield also publishes a free biweekly newsletter called Success Strategies.

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Canfield:

"My inspiration for writing comes from my passion for teaching others how to live more effective lives. I started out as a history teacher in an all-black inner city high school in Chicago, graduated to a teacher trainer, then psychotherapist, then trainer of therapists, then large group transformational trainer and then a writer and keynote speaker. All along the way, my desire was to make a difference, to help people live more fulfilling lives. That is what I still do today. Most people don't know this but I was not a good writer in college. I got a C in composition. Nobody would have ever believed I would grow up to be a bestselling author."

"I play guitar, and I am learning to play the piano. I love movies and some TV shows. My favorites are Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy, House and Lost. I love to play Scrabble, poker and backgammon with my in-laws, nieces and nephews. We really get into it. I love to travel. I have been to 25 countries and try to add two or three new ones every year."

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    1. Hometown:
      Santa Barbara, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 19, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Diamonds Polished Here

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.


Although I gave up my rabbinic pulpit in 1959 to practice psychiatry, the lore, wisdom and ethical beliefs that imbue my family mythology and formed my growing years have never left me.

As a psychiatrist, I specialize in treating addiction. Twenty-five years ago I founded The Gateway Rehabilitation System in Pittsburgh. I am often asked whether any particular treatment modality is employed at Gateway. I always answer that our strength lies in our belief in the inherent goodness of every client. This quality is not always easy to recognize in a person who has led a destructive lifestyle for decades, someone whose use of alcohol or drugs has caused great suffering for others. But in all my years of treating illnesses of the heart and soul, this belief has never failed me; each individual's integrity is always there, lurking right beneath the surface, eager to emerge.

A story occurs to me of a man named Avi. I first met him while I was in Tel Aviv speaking before a group of ex-convicts in recovery who were coming into our Israeli rehabilitation program, a sister home to Gateway. When I began to speak of self-esteem, this man interrupted me. "How can you talk to us of this? I've been a thief since I was eight. When I'm out of prison I can't find work and my family doesn't want to see me."

I stopped him and asked if he'd passed by a jewelry store lately. "Consider the diamonds in the window," I said. "Try and think what they look like when they come out of the mine as lumps of dirty stone. It takes a person who understands the diamond to take the shapeless mound and bring out its intrinsic beauty. That's what we do here: We look for the diamond in everyone; we help the soul's beauty come to the surface; we polish it until it gleams." I looked at Avi, all disheveled and hunched over, nearly hiding in his seat, and said, "You're like that dirt-covered stone. Our business is to find the diamond within and polish it until it glows."

Two years passed. Avi had graduated from the treatment center, and when the following event took place he had already completed his stay in the halfway house and was integrated into the community, working in construction. One day Annette, who manages the halfway house, received a call from a family whose elderly matriarch had died. They wanted to donate her furniture to the halfway house. Annette called Avi and asked him to pick up the furniture, which he willingly agreed to do. When he went to pick it up, he saw that it wasn't worth saving, but not wanting to insult the family, he hauled it anyway.

While Avi was laboring to carry the shabby sofa up the stairs to the halfway house, an envelope fell from the cushions. After getting the couch inside, Avi retrieved the envelope, in which he found five thousand shekels (about $1,700). Now Avi,
remember, had served time in prison for burglary. When he was doing drugs he would have broken into a home for twenty dollars. But now Avi called Annette and told her about the envelope. Annette said it must be reported to the family.

The family was so gratified by Annette's and Avi's honesty that they told her to keep the money for the halfway house. As a result, the halfway house was able to buy one more bed and provide room for one more guest, creating another opportunity for recovery. And Avi wasn't a crook anymore.

Avi relayed this story to me in a letter. He wrote, "When I used drugs, I would get a high for a very short time. When the high wore off I felt terrible, worse than before. It's been three months since I found that money and every time I think of what I did, I feel good all over again. How different a feeling than a temporary fix."

Another year went by and I returned to the halfway house where Avi's good deed had set off a chain of events which led to, among other things, an extra bed. There was a sign hanging above the entry. It read: DIAMONDS POLISHED HERE.

ùRabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

We Are All Jews Now

The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery, to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves have been flown for religious ideas.

ùWilliam James

Viewed from high on the rimrock cliffs that run along the northern edge of Billings,
Montana, the city presents an attractive sight, a thriving metropolis nestled within the great open spaces of the American West. Citizens of Billings say it's a good, civilized place to live. They pride themselves on the quality of their schools and their strong family values.

So it came as a shock to many when, in November 1995, a series of hate crimes took place against minority groups in the city.

Whoever was responsible for these acts must have thought that their victims would be easy targets. Billings is predominantly white; Native Americans,
African-Americans and Jews make up only a small percentage of the population.
But there are just enough of them to frighten and harassùor so the haters must have thought.

They mounted a series of nasty attacks. Graves were overturned in a Jewish cemetery.
Offensive words and a swastika were scrawled on the house of a Native-American woman. People worshipping at a black church were intimidated. A brick was heaved through the window of a Jewish child who was displaying a menorah in her window.

But the white supremacists, or whoever they were, had reckoned without the

citizens of Billings, who had an answer for themùand it wasn't what the hate-mongers were expecting. An alliance quickly emerged, spearheaded by churches, labor unions, the media and hundreds of local citizens.

The results were dramatic. Attendance at the black church rose steadily. People of many different ethnic backgrounds and faiths began to attend services there.
Their message was clear: "We may all be different, but we are also one.
Threaten any one of us and you threaten us all."

A similar spirit propelled volunteers to come together and repaint the house of Dawn Fast Horse, the Native-American woman. This happened at amazing speed. Dawn had awoken one morning to see that her house had been defaced. By the evening,
after two hundred people showed up to help, the house had been repainted.

When it came to the incident of the brick being thrown through the window of the Jewish child, an interfaith group quickly had a creative idea. They recalled the example of the Danes during World War II. When the occupying Nazis proclaimed that all Jews must wear the yellow Star of David, the King of Denmark appeared in public wearing one, too. And so did many other Danes.

So the people of Billings got organized, and a campaign began. Everyone pitched in,
including the local newspaper, which printed a Hanukkah page, including a full-color representation of a menorah. Thousands of Billings residents cut out the paper menorah and displayed it in their windows. By late December, driving around Billings was a remarkable experience. Nearly ten thousand people were displaying those paper menorahs in their windows, and the menorahs remained in place throughout the eight days of Hanukkah. It was a brilliant answer to the hate-mongers. A town that had few Jews was saying with one collective voice, "We are all Jews now."

The story of what happened in Billings quickly spread, inspiring a national movement called "Not in Our Town." That Jewish child who had so innocently displayed her menorah in the window helped set in motion a chain of events that affirmed all over America the liberating principle of unity in diversity.

Not for nothing does a menorah have many candles flickering on a single stand.

ùBryan Aubrey

Diamonds Polished Here.
Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski.
We Are All Jews Now.
¬1999 Bryan Aubrey.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul

by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Rabbi DovPeretz Elkins. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher.
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL

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