From the page to the stage
The Torah comes alive … and charges off in an unexpected direction
with Melissa Carpenter
Melissa is available to deliver Torah monologues, tell stories, and teach creative midrash workshops. To schedule Melissa, call 503-888-6938 or E-mail her at email@example.com
A writer with a passion for Torah, I create my monologues from the point of view of characters in the Torah, imagining what they might think and feel about their lives, their families, and their god. Audience members find my dramatic readings entertaining, moving, and inspiring. The stories of my characters raise questions about our own lives and our own ways of approaching the divine … and one another.
I wrote and delivered my first Torah monologue, “Abraham’s Unbinding”, on Rosh Hashanah for my home congregation, P’nai Or of Portland, Oregon. I’m still sharing Torah monologues there, and I’ve also presented monologues at Elat Chayyim in Canaan, CT, at Bet Shira in Port Townsend, WA, at the Portland Women’s Day of Jewish Learning, and at the Cactus Kallah in Tucson, AZ.
“Each story touches the heart …”
“Melissa Carpenter has developed a unique form of modern midrash. She brings the stories of the Torah to life with profound insight, scholarship, depth and humor. When I experience her dramatic readings I feel I am in the presence of the living Torah.” Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield zt”l
“Melissa Carpenter has attuned her soul to the tradition of living midrash. She not only uncovers fascinating and enlightening insights into Torah, but she does so in a way that makes is accessible to all of us. Her midrash is brilliant and emotionally alive. Moses and The Baal Shem Tov would love her work!” Rabbi David Zaslow
“Each story touches the heart in its own way, and evokes the beauty and grief and mystery of life and the Torah. They are full of soul and wisdom and tears and humor and lessons and inspiration. To come upon these stories and to let them wash over you is to feel that all the wanderings and stumblings that led you up to that point were all worth it.” Richard Seidman, author of The Oracle of Kabbalah
For more about my Torah monologues, click the Torah Monologues tab at the top of this page.
I am a certified maggidah, a Jewish storyteller and speaker. I like to take traditional Jewish tales and rewrite them to bring out the human dilemmas and add my own humor. Besides telling many stories for my home congregation, P’nai Or of Portland, OR, I have participated in storytelling concerts at the ALEPH Kallah in Redmond, CA, and at Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland, OR.
For more about my work as a maggidah, click the Storytelling tab at the top of this page.
Creative Midrash Workshops
Your own Torah lies deep inside you. I can help you coax out your own insights and interpretations through a process that uses both your left and right brain. In an all-day workshop, I share one of my own Torah monologues and review the process I used to develop my ideas. Then we dive into one of the stories in the Torah, and study some of the midrash and commentary written about it over the centuries. Moving from intellect to intuition, students then explore the theme with drawings, embody characters through bibliodrama, and write their own character-oriented poems, stories, or plays. I’ve taught creative midrash workshops for P’nai Or of Portland, Bet Shira, and the Cactus Kallah.
Magic Words in the Torah
Combine Shabbat or festival services, Torah monologues, Torah study, a storytelling concert, and a class or workshop, and what do you get? Great programming for a Shabbaton weekend! I have been leading Shabbat services, services for holy days, and Torah study at P’nai Or of Portland since 2004, and I enjoy using prayer, song, study, and imagination to lead everyone toward a deep connection with divine inspiration.