The Governments of the Wise Men of Chelm

Participatory Democracy in the Shtedl

In the Yiddish folklore of Eastern Europe, Chelm is the village of fools. Chelm is what is called a "shtedl", somewhere between the Russian Pale of Settlement and northeastern Poland. To image a shtedl think of Fiddler on the Roof, or the stories of Sholem Aleichem: part market-town, part peasant village, part rabbinical seminary town.Save for a few rich businessmen living in the outskirts, everyone is desperately poor.

Although the rest of the world, Jews and non-Jews alike, laugh at their folly, Chelm is proud of its great tradition of Talmudic wisdom embodied in the persons of about a dozen rabbis who form the Council of the Wise Elders. The Council meets irregularly, at times of major political crises, to resolve religious controversies, debate legal matters, or to sit around telling one another stories.

This book describes their many failed attempts to set up a viable system of government for the citizenry Chelm.

The price of "The Governments of Chelm" is $10

Send check, cash or money order to:

Roy Lisker
8 Liberty Street#306
Middletown,CT 06457

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