The archive
story of


The “People of Chelm Want To Know” column was spawned by the excitement and enthusiasm developed years ago in the Me'ah and Adult Education classes at Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, Massachusetts. Besides an active, engaged body of adult learners, we were also blessed to hear from many scholars and educators at the many local colleges, as well our own leaders. Rabbi Lewis Mintz was Beth Elohim’s founding rabbi, retiring in 2017. He was succeeded by Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, who brought an equally vast knowledge of  Judaism and a special focus on social justice.  And my friend Ellen "Waky" Waks, a longtime Beth Elohim religious school teacher has been the key editor and fact checker throughtout the entire life of this project.

You can read any of the questions by simply clicking on any highlighted year in the paragraph below. Each yearly file contains all the months question and answers for that year. A few of the most interesting questions are repeated in multiple years.

Initially, there were three questions per month in each issue of the STAR during these years 2000 (starting in May), 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 (January only). I simply had too many other activities and so the column was paused.  At Waky's suggestion, the column was revived after I retired and there were 2 questions per month for the following years 2019 (starting in September), 2020 and 2021. Then the STAR ceased to be a printed publication at the end of 2021. In 2022 a new, on-line monthly version of the STAR was developed and soon after - in July 2022 - the People of Chelm column was revived once again but with just one question in each issue. The questions are archived in the year after they appear in the STAR. Here and 2022 and 2023 versions.

This archive is intended as a resource for any who enjoy exploring the many dimensions of Jewish learning. Do not be discouraged because many of these questions are fairly difficult and you should be congratulated for trying to wrestle with any of them. And as you learn, please share your new knowledge with your family, your neighbors, fellow congregants, and friends. We can all contribute to making the inspiring and uplifting lessons of Judaism accessible to everyone, even to the storied people of Chelm. The legend of the mythical people of Chelm may not be familiar to some, so this article may help you appreciate their plight. If you have an idea for a good question, you are always welcome to write me at