Perspectives

Storytelling Can Build Community and Bridge Cultural and Religious Divides


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Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff believes in the power of stories and storytelling to build communities and to bridge cultural and religious divides in our country.
Zunikoff is a storyteller, poet, educator, facilitator and coach and is the founder and director of The Golden Door: Storytelling for Social Justice.
“It is an organization that brings storytellers and facilitators to schools to coach teachers and to educate students and build safe, encouraging classroom communities,” says Zunikoff.
For almost 10 years she also co-taught Oral Histories of Holocaust Survivors at Goucher College and coached over 100 students in the genre of oral histories.
Zunikoff will be in Athens this weekend as part of a weekend collaborative “Community Building” workshop organized by the Appalachian Ohio Storytelling Project. The theme of the weekend is “A Welcoming America: Take Your Place at Our Table,” according to Thomas Burnett, director of the Storytelling Project.
Zunikoff will be the featured storyteller at a Saturday, April 6, concert at Christ Lutheran Church at 69 Mill Street, Athens, Ohio at 7:30pm. There is a suggested donation of $10.00.
Sunday’s, April 7th, “Building Community in Athens” workshop is at The Athens Friends Meeting House 26 Birge Street in Chauncey, Ohio from 2 to 4pm . There is no charge for the workshop and it is open to the public.
Zunikoff told the Spectrum podcast about the power of storytelling. Although she is a strong force in telling the stories of Judaism, Zunikoff has spearheaded projects bringing Jewish and Muslim communities together through stories to bridge cultural and religious divides.
She is a believer that personal stories can lead to inclusiveness.
She was named a 2016 Baltimore Social Innovator by the Warnock Foundation. She also is a fellow with the Institute of Islamic, Christian and Jewish studies.
Zunikoff is a strong advocate of not only telling powerful stories but in “listening” to the voices of others. She says that the best storytellers are great listeners.