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Smiling portrait of Yitzhak Buxbaum c. 2015, wearing glasses, colourful Mizrahi-style kippah, white jacket
Yitzhak Buxbaum

Yitzhak Buxbaum is an American author and maggid (preacher/storyteller).


Published workEdit

Most of Buxbaum's books and articles relate to Hasidism, especially its storytelling tradition, and Neo-Hasidism. He has authored the following books.

  • Jewish Spiritual Practices Jason Aronson, 1991 ISBN 978-1-56821-206-7
  • Storytelling and Spirituality in Judaism Jason Aronson, 1994 ISBN 978-1-56821-173-2
  • Real Davvening: Jewish Prayer as a Spiritual Practice and a Form of Meditation for Beginning and Experienced Davveners |Jewish Spirit Booklet Series, 1996 ISBN 978-1-5114-3313-6
  • An Open Heart: The Mystic Path of Loving People . Jewish Spirit Booklet Series, 1997 ISBN 978-0-9657-1122-7
  • A Tu BeShvat Seder: The Feast of Fruits from the Tree of Life Jewish Spirit Booklet Series, 1998 ISBN 978-0-9657-1123-4
  • The Life and Teachings of Hillel 376 pp. Jason Aronson, 2000 ISBN 978-1-56821-049-0 According to WorldCat, the book is held in 168 libraries[1]
  • A Person is Like a Tree: A Sourcebook for Tu BeShvat Jason Aronson, 2000 ISBN 978-0-7657-6128-6
  • Storytelling and Spirituality in Judaism Jason Aronson, 2001 ISBN 978-0-7657-6166-8
  • Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy Jossey-Bass, 2002 ISBN 978-0-7879-6272-2
  • Jewish Tales of Holy Women Jossey-Bass, 2002 ISBN 978-1-118-10443-9
  • The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov Continuum, 2005 ISBN 978-0-8264-1772-5
  • Serach at the Seder: A Haggadah Supplement, illustrations by Shoshannah Brombacher Jewish Spirit, 2012

Reviews of Buxbaum's work have appeared in Jewish publications with a variety of perspectives,[2] including The Algemeiner Journal,[3] Hadassah Magazine,[4] The Jewish Chronicle,[5] and Tikkun.[6] His books have been reviewed for broader audiences in the journal Parabola[7] and the website Spirituality and Practice.[8][9]

Manuscripts and drafts of The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov are archived at Cornell University Library.[10]


Buxbaum tells stories "in Jewish and non-Jewish settings to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences", with a focus on "the spiritual nature of storytelling."[11][12] He has been grouped among "the most active tellers in the Jewish world."[13]

Maggid training programEdit

Building on his ordination as a maggid by Shlomo Carlebach,[14] Buxbaum established a program to train women and men as maggidim (plural of maggid).[15] Graduates include Shoshana Litman, described as Canada's first ordained female Jewish storyteller,[16] and Tamir Zaltsman, who states that he is the first ordained Russian-speaking maggid.[17] Some graduates are themselves training maggidim.[18]

Background and personal lifeEdit

Buxbaum graduated from Cornell University (class of 1964).[10]

He has told interviewers that as a young man, he identified as an atheist and felt disconnected from his Jewish roots. But a time of intense soul-searching, and encounters with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, led him to devote his life to Jewish spirituality.[19]

In 2007, Buxbaum was one of six spiritual leaders from different faiths who opened the memorial celebration for Sri Chinmoy at the United Nations.[20]

Buxbaum lives in Brooklyn. He is married to actor and storyteller Carole Forman.[21]


  1. ^ WorldCat book entry
  2. ^ On The Bookshelf (column) (July 11, 1996). "The art of davvening is meaningfully taught in new booklet by Jewish Spirit". Sentinel: The Voice of Chicago Jewry.
  3. ^ Kurzweil, Arthur. "Light and Fire". The Algemeiner Journal (December 15, 2006).
  4. ^ Shluker, Zelda (2013-03-27). "Serach at the Seder: A Haggadah Supplement". Hadassah Magazine. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  5. ^ Demant, Jason (7 September 2006). "The Jewish Chronicle - Getting to the heart of Chasidism". Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  6. ^ Frankel, Estelle. "Stories That Heal the Soul". Tikkun (May/June 2006): 73.
  7. ^ Kurzweil, Arthur (Fall 2004). "The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov, Yitzhak Buxbaum (book review)". Parabola (31:3).
  8. ^ Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann. "The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov, 2005 S & P Award Winner | Book Reviews | Books | Spirituality & Practice". Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  9. ^ Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann. "Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy | Book Reviews | Books | Spirituality & Practice". Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  10. ^ a b "ArchiveGrid : Yitzhak Buxbaum papers, 1991-2005". Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  11. ^ Horowitz, Rosemary, ed. Elie Wiesel and the Art of Storytelling (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2006), 5.
  12. ^ "The Best of the Besht: Brooklyn man is master of thousands of tales". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  13. ^ Schram, Peninnah (1995). Chosen Tales: Stories Told by Jewish Storytellers. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson. pp. xxxvi. ISBN 1-56821-352-2.
  14. ^ silvers, emma. "Tale of the maggid: Jewish storytelling enters a new era | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  15. ^ "Tales of a Maggid: Sacred Hints for Davening and Dance". The Jewish Week | Connecting The World To Jewish News, Culture & Opinion. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  16. ^ Lee, Jan. "Maggidah is a Canadian First". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  17. ^ "First Ever Russian-Speaking Maggid Graduation Party". February 5, 2012.
  18. ^ "Maggid Staff and Instructors: Bruce "Dov" Forman, Shoshannah Brombacher".
  19. ^ "Radical Mystic - Tablet Magazine – Jewish News and Politics, Jewish Arts and Culture, Jewish Life and Religion". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  20. ^ "Celebration of the Life of Sri Chinmoy at the United Nations – Sri Chinmoy Centre News". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  21. ^ "Meet Carole Forman Storytelling and Acting". Retrieved 2016-04-25.

External linksEdit

Article by Yitzhak Buxbaum: Real Davening: Chasidic Answers to the Crisis in Prayer. The Jewish Review: A Journal of Torah, Judaism, Philosophy, Life and Culture 4:3 (March 1991 / Adar 5751)