One year ago, the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil launched the 8 Nights of Sto­ries series on The Pros­en­Peo­ple. For each of the eight nights of Chanukah, the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil set out to help our read­ers find more sto­ries — to read to chil­dren, to share with young adults, and to read on your own after the kids are in bed. For Chanukah 5775, we’re delight­ed to part­ner with the writ­ers of Hevria, a new col­lab­o­ra­tive of Jew­ish self-iden­ti­fied cre­ators, as guest con­trib­u­tors over the next eight nights.

To kick the series off this year, Hevria co-founders Matthue Roth and Elad Neho­rai share the sto­ries they think most worth sharing:

Matthue Roth

When I was a kid, I had an old, heavy hard­cov­er edi­tion of the book Sto­ries of King Solomon by Lil­lian S. Free­hof. The illus­tra­tions were vin­tage 70s paper­cuts in psy­che­del­ic col­ors. Each sto­ry was­n’t more than 2 or 3 pages, and I had­n’t yet learned to call them midrashim. But the sto­ries it was filled with were mag­i­cal and mirac­u­lous: his mag­ic car­pet, the quest for the worm that could cut through moun­tains, the demon Asmodeus who was as clever as Solomon, but was evil, and once altered his image and replaced him. Dis­ney princess­es serve their own pur­pose, but I want my kids to grow up to think that THIS is royalty.

Elad Neho­rai

If You Want to Write by Bren­da Ueland changed my life. I walked into Barnes and Noble, a young col­lege kid who just real­ized he want­ed to take up writ­ing. Then I saw this book that seemed about right called, If You Want to Write. I want­ed to write! So I picked it up, hav­ing no idea what was inside.

It turns out that it was writ­ten by a cool beat­nik lady in 1938 named Bren­da Ueland. Ueland opened my eyes for the first time into what writ­ing, and all art, was at its core: an expres­sion of our soul.

From the very begin­ning, she writes with enthu­si­asm and a clear love for her read­er, show­ing that heart is so much more pow­er­ful than mere mem­o­ry” and that a writer must learn to rise over the trau­mat­ic rejec­tion they’ve often had to face as sen­si­tive peo­ple in a world that is often cyn­i­cal and neg­a­tive, crush­ing the poten­tial­ly pos­i­tive, alive peo­ple of the world.

Ueland guides her read­ers as only she can into an explo­ration of the artist’s essence and poten­tial, show­ing them what they real­ly can become when they stop lis­ten­ing to the peo­ple stuck in their minds and start embrac­ing the part of them­selves that just wants to cry when it sees a sunset.

An absolute neces­si­ty for any­one who wants to write”.

Check back tomor­row for the next install­ment of Eight Nights of Sto­ries, in part­ner­ship this year with Hevria!

Relat­ed content:

Matthue Roth’s newest book is My First Kaf­ka: Rodents, Run­aways, and Giant Bugs, a pic­ture book, which will be released in June 2013. His young-adult nov­el Losers was just made a spe­cial selec­tion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. He lives in Brookyn with his fam­i­ly and keeps a secret diary at www​.matthue​.com.