Stories We Tell: The Grateful Grapes

Judaism has a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, of passing down stories from one generation to the next. To carry on that tradition, Stories We Tell, from, will share a new story with you every Thursday. Whether you listen while driving to work, preparing Shabbat dinner, or taking your kids to school, each episode will give you a new story to reflect on and discuss with the people in your life. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life.

A farmer gifts a Kibbutz gatekeeper with a beautiful bunch of grapes, to thank him for always being so welcoming. Soon, the gift is shared in unexpected ways, and we learn that what goes around, really does come back around. Listen in as Rabbi Phyllis Sommer shares with us the wonderful story of the “Grateful Grapes”.

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[URJ Intro] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast presented from Judaism has always had a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, passing our stories down from one generation to the next. And here, each Thursday, we share a new story with you to carry on that tradition. This week, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, the director of congregational learning at Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois, shares the story of The Grateful Grapes.

[Rabbi Phyllis Sommer] One day a farmer knocked at the gate of a nearby kibbutz. When the gatekeeper opened up, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes. "Haver, these are the finest grapes my vineyard has ever produced. And I've come to offer them to you as a gift."

"Thank you, Toda Raba. I will take them to the Rosh kibbutz, our leader, immediately. They will be so delighted with this gift."

"No, no, no," said the farmer. "I brought them for you. For whenever I knock on the gate of this kibbutz, it is you who opens it. When I needed help because my crop was destroyed by drought, you shared your pita and hummus with me every day."

The gatekeeper held the cluster of grapes and spent the entire morning admiring it. Upon reflection, he decided that he would gift the grapes to the Rosh kibbutz, for it was the Rosh who always encouraged the gatekeeper with words of wisdom and helped everyone so much.

The Rosh kibbutz was very pleased with the grapes and admired their beauty for some time, taking in the color and the shapes. And then he recalled that there was a sick kibbutznik in the mirpa'a, the infirmary. And he thought, I'll give her the grapes. Who knows? They may bring her some joy and healing.

And that is what he did. The sick kibbutznik was overjoyed, and thanked the Rosh kibbutz for his generosity. She too was taken by how beautiful the grapes were, and saw in them a magnificent work of art-- patterns of repeated themes and variegated colors.

She thought to herself, you know, the kibbutz nurse has looked after me for so long, taking such good care of me. I'm sure he will enjoy these.

The nurse was also amazed at the beauty of the grapes. While admiring them he realized, these grapes are perfect, so perfect that no one could appreciate them more than the rabbi. Certainly the rabbi would see these grapes as a beautiful miracle from God.

But the rabbi, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the newest kibbutz member, who had only arrived that week. Perhaps, the rabbi thought, our newest kibbutznik might need to be reminded of the bounty of the land of Israel, since kibbutz life can be a little bit difficult.

And when the newest kibbutznik received them, he quietly recalled the first time he had come to the kibbutz, just a little while ago, hoping to be among a community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life. He pictured the person who had opened the gates for him. And so just before nightfall he took the grapes to the gatekeeper, who was just finishing up his shift.

Eat and enjoy them, he said. You spend most of your time alone here. These grapes are most deservedly yours. The gatekeeper accepted the grapes, because then he understood that the gift had always been truly meant for him.

[URJ Outro] After hearing the story of The Grateful Grapes, can you think of a time in your life when, in an effort to be generous, it turned out that people really just wanted to share with you? If you'd like to share that with us, we'd love to hear about it on social media. You can find us at And on Twitter, our handle is @ReformJudaism.

And thanks for listening to Stories We Tell. If you enjoyed this week's story, please subscribe and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can always find new episodes every Thursday on And don't forget to visit to learn a little bit more about Jewish rituals, or culture, or holidays, and more.

Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life. And until next week, l'hitroat!