Israeli storyteller wins prize at Edinburgh Festival

By Jennifer Lipman, August 28, 2012

An Israeli performer triumphed in an international storytelling contest held as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – despite having no experience in the genre.

Shachar Lavi's reminiscence of his barmitzvah earned him the top prize at the annual Grant's True Tales Festival of Storytelling, which pitted established storytellers against first-timers like Mr Lavi. He decided to enter on a whim after helping organise a similar event in Tel Aviv.

Mr Lavi, 28, recounted the tale of how his childhood pet – a lamb – was slaughtered by his shochet grandfather in honour of his coming of age. "Everything was decorated, everyone was happy," he said. "I look at the stage and I see my grandfather at the right and on the left I see a tree and a rope and a sheep."

"It was a traumatic, inhumane sight," explained the music producer, who told the audience he was from a religious family of Moroccan Jewish descent. He revealed how he then ran into the woods and was comforted by his father, but said the experience prompted his first adult experience after his barmitzvah.

"I decided to become a vegetarian," he said.

Mr Lavi's victory was rewarded with a bottle of rare whisky nearly as old as him.

He said he had enjoyed meeting people from around the world while performing in Edinburgh. "I felt like we're one big family and I had a chance to show them a different side of Israel. Also how the Israeli people are not like what they see on international media."

Last updated: 12:24pm, August 28 2012