Ellen Frankel

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Ellen Frankel (born 1951) was the editor-in-chief of The Jewish Publication Society from 1991 until 2009, and also served as CEO of the JPS for 10 years.[1] She retired in 2009 to pursue her own writing and scholarly projects, remaining with JPS as Editor Emerita.[2][3]


Frankel received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1973 and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 1978.

Frankel travels widely as a storyteller and lecturer, speaking to synagogues, summer study institutes, Hillels, Jewish women's groups, JCCs, museums, schools, retirement communities, and radio audiences. Among the programs she presents are Reading the Torah through a Woman's Eyes; The Evil Eye, Hamsas and Other Jewish Superstitions; Jewish Tales of Love and Romance; Jewish Ethics through Jewish Tales; From Spark to Fire: How Jewish Books Are Born; and The History of Jewish Publishing in America; and Writing a Jewish Children's Bible.

A scholar of Jewish folklore, Frankel has published The Classic Tales: 4000 Years of Jewish Lore, a collection of 300 traditional Jewish tales; and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols, co-authored with artist Betsy Teutsch. She is also the author of The Five Books of Miriam: A Woman's Commentary on the Torah, published in an Israeli Hebrew edition as Midrash Miriam. She is the editor of The Jewish Spirit: A Celebration in Stories and Art, and contributing author to the ten-volume series, My People’s Prayerbook. She is also the author of The Illustrated Hebrew Bible, and the JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible.

Frankel has published two books for young people - Choosing To Be Chosen, a collection of stories for Jewish pre-teens, and a sequel, Tell It Like It Is: Tough Choices for Today’s Teens, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter.

She has a wonderful niece named Lily who is so spectacular and her sister June who is even more spectaculars

Frankel has also written libretti for two oratorios composed by Andrea Clearfield, Women of Valor and The Golem Psalms. The first was premiered in Los Angeles in 2002; the second in Philadelphia in 2006. She is currently at work on an opera libretto, The Golem of Prague.

Frankel wrote the libretto for the fact-based opera Slaying the Dragon with music by American composer Michael Ching, based on the book Not by the Sword by Kathryn Watterson. The opera was commissioned by the Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia, and had its world premiere in June 2012, conducted by Andrew M. Kurtz.

Frankel received the Myrtle Wreath Award from Hadassah in February 2000, and the Bernard Reisman Professional Excellence Award from Brandeis University in May 2009.[citation needed]


Stories, Essays, Articles, Reviews

  • "Tales of the Crystal Shofar," Shofar Magazine (1982–86)
  • Essays/Reviews, Moment, Judaism, Jewish Spectator, Jerusalem Report (1977-)
  • Stories anthologized in Taking the Fruit: Women's Midrash:
    • Chosen Tales, edited by Peninnah Schram
    • Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children, Donna E. Norton
    • Humanist Readings in Jewish Folklore, Bennett Muraskin
  • My People’s Prayerbook, contributing author to 10-volume series (2000—)
  • On One Foot: A Middle East Guide for the Perplexed, Mitchell Bard - contributing author (2002)
  • “Jewish Women in Publishing,” Nashim, (Spring 2008)
  • “Jewish Symbols,” in Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora (2008)


  • Choosing To Be Chosen (Ktav, 1985)
  • George Washington and the Constitution (Bantam, 1987)
  • The Classic Tales: 4000 Years of Jewish Lore (Aronson, 1989)
  • The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols (Aronson, 1992)
  • Tell It Like It Is: Tough Choices for Today's Teens (Ktav, 1995)
  • The Five Books of Miriam (Putnam, 1996)
  • The Five Books of Miriam, paperback edition (Harper San Francisco, 1997)
  • The Jewish Spirit (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1997)
  • The Illustrated Hebrew Bible (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1999)
  • Midrash Miriam, Hebrew Edition (Am Oved, Israel, 2007)
  • The JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible (Jewish Publication Society, 2009)

Work as Editor

  • Consulting Editor, Folktales of the Jews (2005--)
  • Consulting Editor, The Contemporary Torah (2007)

Musical Libretti

  • “Sarah,” “Miriam,” “Hannah” and “Ruth” for Women of Valor, music composed by Andrea Clearfield, premiered at UCLA, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, May 2000
  • “The Golem Psalms,” music composed by Andrea Clearfield, premiered at University of Pennsylvania, Mendelssohn Club, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Sanford Sylvan, soloist, May 2006; also performed at Haverford College by the Bryn Mawr/Haverford choir and orchestra, Indiana University, and in March 2010, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, performed by the Temple University Choir and Orchestra
  • “The Golem of Prague,” opera, in development


  1. ^ Susan Berrin, "Ellen Frankel", Jewish Women's Archive (accessed November 2, 2010).
  2. ^ "JPS CEO/Editor-in-Chief Ellen Frankel to Step Down", Jewish Publication Society, June 29, 2009 (accessed November 2, 2010).
  3. ^ Aaron Passman, "Pulpit to Publishing: A New Leader for JPS", Jewish Exponent, July 08, 2010.