One woman show comes to Holocaust Centre North

Ruth Steinberg will be performing her moving story, A Flower is Not a Rat, on Sunday


Story-teller Ruth Steinberg

Leeds-based storyteller Ruth Steinberg is set to captivate audiences with her poignant and partly biographical performance, A Flower is Not a Rat, on Sunday.

Ruth, 71, a skilled story-weaver, draws inspiration for her one-woman show from her Jewish heritage, her husband Len Biran, 87, and her own personal experiences.

Born in 1952 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Steinberg proudly identifies as a “Jewish Geordie”.

Len was born was in 1937 in pre-war Krakow before moving to Israel and then Ethiopia with his father, who was a pharmacist. He then came to the UK when he was 18 on a scholarship to study medicine.

The couple met in 2000 when Ruth was in her 50s and after Len lost his wife of 34 years.

A Flower is Not a Rat is inspired by a woman named Basia, who is from Krakow and who and was best friends with Len’s mum before the war.

Ruth said: “She was Catholic but a Partisan who helped Jews out of the ghetto during the war. During our visit to Krakow in 2001, Basia uttered something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. She said: ‘A flower is not a rat’ and that this reflected humanity – to choose what is right over what is easy.” Ruth believes these words are ever truer in today’s world.

Her performance blends personal anecdotes, folktales and Yiddish song, taking the audience on an emotional journey that elicits both laughter and tears.

Ruth continued: “The challenge with my show it to keep people engaged. One of my skills is to deal with difficult subjects with a very light touch. I never wanted to do Holocaust stories, but I want people to know Basia.”

Now living in Leeds, Ruth worked for Leeds City Council for over 30 years as a librarian and in mental health.

Since her retirement in 2010, she has dedicated her life to helping others through more creative pursuits, thus expanding her interest in the arts.

Ruth took up storytelling performance after doing a three-month course in 2012 and has perfomed at the Ilkley Literature Festival, Leeds Love Arts Festival and Limmud.

Ruth emphasised the importance of storytelling. “We all have a story. People’s stories need to be heard. The power of hearing somebody’s story is a transformative thing – it’s everything.”

“A Flower is Not a Rat” will take place at the Holocaust Centre North on Sunday, June 16.

Start time: 1pm

Cost - £5 / £3.50 for OAPs and University of Huddersfield students

To book, click here

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