Jewish humour


Jewish humour

Jewish humour is the long tradition of humour in Judaism dating back to the Torah and the Midrash, but generally refers to the more recent stream of verbal, self-deprecating and often anecdotal humour originating in Eastern Europe and which took root in the United States over the last hundred years. Beginning with vaudeville, and continuing through radio, stand-up comedy, film, and television, a disproportionately high percentage of American and Russian comedians have been Jewish. [While numbers are inevitably fuzzy, Paul Chance, reviewing Lawrence Epstein's "The Haunted Smile: The Story Of Jewish Comedians In America" ("Psychology Today", Jan-Feb, 2002) wrote "While Jews make up only about 3 percent of the U.S. population, 80 percent of professional comics are Jewish." Accessed [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1175/is_1_35/ai_82261813 online] 25 March 2007. Comedian Mark Schiff, [http://www.aish.com/jewlariousFeatures/jewlariousFeaturesDefault/Why_Are_Jews_Funny$.asp reviewing the same book on Jewlarious.com] , writes "Most of the comedians that made us all laugh in the 1950s, '60s and '70s were Jewish." Similarly, Drew Friedman (author of "Old Jewish Comedians"), in a March 22, 2007 [http://www.mrmedia.com/2007/03/fridays-with-mr-media-drew-friedman.html interview on Fridays with Mr. Media] : "Somebody said, 'You could do an Old Protestant Comedian book,' and I said, 'Well, that would be a pamphlet, wouldn’t it?'" ]

The history of Jewish humour

Jewish humour is rooted in several traditions. The first is the intellectual and legal methods of the Talmud, which uses elaborate legal arguments and situations often seen as so absurd as to be humorous in order to tease out the meaning of religious law. [http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/HumourOUSCASESTALMUD.htm#_ednref1] .

Hillel Halkin in his essay about Jewish humour [ [http://www.hagshama.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=2180 "Why Jews Laugh at Themselves"] , an essay by Hillel Halkin, "Commentary Magazine", Vol 121, April 2006, No 4, pp. 47-54 ] traces some roots of the Jewish self-deprecating humour to the medieval influence of Arabic traditions on the Hebrew literature by quoting a witticism from Yehuda Alharizi's "Tahkemoni".

A more recent one is an egalitarian tradition among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe in which the powerful were often mocked subtly, rather than attacked overtly—as Saul Bellow once put it, "oppressed people tend to be witty." Jesters known as badchens used to poke fun at prominent members of the community during weddings, creating a good-natured tradition of humour as a levelling device. Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, a scholar of Jewish humour, argued:

After Jews began to emigrate to America in large numbers, they, like other minority groups, found it difficult to gain mainstream acceptance and obtain upward mobility. (As Lenny Bruce lampooned, "He was charming... They said, 'C'mon! Let's go watch the Jew be charming!'") The newly-developing entertainment industry, combined with the Jewish humour tradition, provided a potential route for Jews to succeed. One of the first successful radio "sitcoms," The Goldbergs, featured a Jewish family. As radio and television matured, many of its most famous comedians, including Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, George Burns, Henny Youngman and Milton Berle, were Jewish. The Jewish comedy tradition continues today, with Jewish humour much entwined with that of mainstream humour, as comedies like "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" indicate.

Sigmund Freud in his "Wit and the Unconscious", among other things, analyzes the nature of the Jewish jokes.

Types of Jewish humour

Religious humour

As befits a community to which religion was so important, much humor centers on the relationship of Judaism to the individual Jew and the community.

quotation|Two Rebbes argued late into the night about the existence of God, and, using strong arguments from the scriptures, ended up indisputably disproving His existence. The next day, one Rabbi was surprised to see the other walking into the Shul for morning services.

"I thought we had agreed there was no God", he said.

"Yes, what does that have to do with it?" replied the other.

Wits

Similarly, in the tradition of the legal arguments of the Talmud, one prominent type of Jewish humour involves clever, often legalistic, solutions to Talmudic problems, such as:

quotation
Q: Is one permitted to ride in an airplane on the Sabbath? A: Yes, as long as your seat belt remains fastened. In this case, it is considered that you are not riding, you are "wearing" the plane.

Tales of the Rebbes

Some jokes make fun of the "Rebbe miracle stories" and involve different hasidim bragging about their teachers' miraculous abilities:

The lives of the early hasidim, while not funny in and of themselves, are rich in humorous incidents. The dealings between rabbis, tzaddikim, and peasants form a rich tapestry of lore.

Eastern European Jewish humour

A number of traditions in Jewish humour date back to stories and anecdotes from the 1800s.

Chelm

One popular humorous tradition from Eastern Europe involved tales of the people of Chełm, a town reputed in these jokes to be inhabited by fools (including their rabbi). The jokes were almost always centered on silly solutions to problems. Some of these solutions display "foolish wisdom" (reaching the correct answer by the wrong train of reasoning), while others are simply wrong.

Chelm tales were told by authors like Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer. A typical Chelm story might begin, "It is said that after God made the world, he filled it with people. He sent off an angel with two sacks, one full of wisdom and one full of foolishness. The second sack was of course much heavier. So after a time it started to drag. Soon it got caught on a mountaintop and so all the foolishness spilled out and fell into Chelm."

Here are a few examples of a Chelm tale:Fact|date=December 2007

quotation|In Chelm, the "" used to go around waking everyone up for "minyan" (communal prayer) in the morning. Every time it snowed, the people would complain that, although the snow was beautiful, they could not see it in its pristine state because by the time they got up in the morning, the "shammes" had already trekked through the snow. The townspeople decided that they had to find a way to be woken up up for "minyan" without having the "shammes" making tracks in the snow. The people of Chelm hit on a solution: they got four volunteers to carry the "shammes" around on a table when there was fresh snow in the morning. That way, the "shammes" could make his wake up calls, but "he" would not leave tracks in the snow.

Or,

Or,

quotation|The sexton of the synagogue decided to install a poor box so that the fortunate might share their wealth with the needy. On shabbes eve, he announced to the congregation that a new opportunity for "mitzvoh" was available. "But," one member complained, "it will be so easy for the goneffs to steal from the box." The sexton thought long and hard that night, and announced the next day that he had found a solution. Pointing upward, he showed, the poor box was now suspended from a chain at the ceiling, high, high, high overhead. "But now how do we put money in the box?" The next week, the congregation saw the wonderful solution. A lovely circular stairway now ascended to the poor box making it easy to contribute.

Hershele Ostropoler

Hershele Ostropoler, also known as Hershel of Ostropol, was a legendary prankster who was based on a historic figure. Thought to have come from Ukraine, he lived in the small village of Ostropol, working as "shochet", a ritual slaughterer. According to legend he lost his job because of his constant joking, which offended the leaders of the village.

In his subsequent wanderings throughout Ukraine, he became a familiar figure at restaurants and inns.

Eventually he settled down at the court of Rabbi Boruch of Medzhybizh, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. The rabbi was plagued by frequent depressions, and Hershele served as a sort of court jester, mocking the rabbi and his cronies, to the delight of the common folk.

After his death he was remembered in a series of pamphlets recording his tales and witty remarks.

He was the subject of several epic poems, a novel, a comedy performed in 1930 by the Vilna Troupe, and a U.S. television program in the 1950s. Two illustrated children's books, "The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol", and "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins", have been published. Both books were written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. In 2002, a play entitled "Hershele the Storyteller" was performed in New York City. [http://www.geocities.com/hershele_the_storyteller/]

Humour about antisemitism

Much Jewish humour takes the form of self-deprecating comments on Jewish culture, acting as a shield against antisemitic stereotypes by exploiting them first:

quotation|Rabbi Altmann and his secretary were sitting in a coffeehouse in Berlin in 1935. "Herr Altmann," said his secretary, "I notice you're reading "Der Stürmer"! I can't understand why. A Nazi libel sheet! Are you some kind of masochist, or, God forbid, a self-hating Jew?" "On the contrary, Frau Epstein. When I used to read the Jewish papers, all I learned about were pogroms, riots in Palestine, and assimilation in America. But now that I read "Der Stürmer", I see so much more: that the Jews control all the banks, that we dominate in the arts, and that we're on the verge of taking over the entire world. You know – it makes me feel a whole lot better!"

Or, on a similar note:

quotation|After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, a government official in Ukraine menacingly addressed the local rabbi, "I suppose you know in full detail who was behind it." "Ach," the rabbi replied, "I have no idea, but the government's conclusion will be the same as always: they will blame the Jews and the chimneysweeps." "Why the chimneysweeps?" asked the befuddled official. "Why the Jews?" responded the rabbi.

And another example, a direct slice of "galgenhumor" (gallows humour):

There is also this sort of humour originating in the United States, such as this one:

quotation|Down South during World War II, a sergeant gets a telephone call from a woman."We would love it," she said, "if you could bring five of your soldiers over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner." "Certainly, ma'am," replied the sergeant. "Oh... just make sure they aren't Jews, of course," said the woman. "Will do," replied the sergeant.So that Thanksgiving while the woman is baking, the doorbell rings. She opens her door and, to her horror, five black soldiers are standing in front of her. "Oh, my!" she exclaimed. "I'm afraid there's been a terrible mistake!" "No ma'am," said one of the soldiers. "Sergeant Rosenbloom never makes mistakes!"

This one combines accusations of the lack of patriotism and avarice:

American Jewish humour

The role of Yiddish

Some Yiddish words may sound comical to an English speaker. [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yinglish"] Terms like shnook and shmendrik, shlemiel and shlimazel (often considered inherently funny words) were exploited for their humorous sounds, as were "Yinglish" shm-reduplication constructs, such as "fancy-schmancy". Yiddish constructions—such as ending sentences with questions—became part of the verbal wordplay of Jewish comedians.

About religion

One common strain of Jewish humour examines the role of religion in contemporary life, often gently mocking the religious hypocrite. For example:

quotation|A Reform Rabbi was so compulsive a golfer that once, on Yom Kippur, he left the house early and went out for a quick nine holes by himself. An angel who happened to be looking on immediately notified his superiors that a grievous sin was being committed. On the sixth hole, God caused a mighty wind to take the ball directly from the tee to the cup — a miraculous shot. The angel was horrified. "A hole in one!" he exclaimed, "You call this a punishment, Lord?!" Answered God with a sly smile, "So who can he tell?"

Or, on differences between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements:

quotation|An Orthodox, a Conservative, and a Reform rabbi are each asked whether one is supposed to say a "brokhe" (blessing) over a lobster (non-kosher food, normally not eaten by religious Jews). The Orthodox rabbi doesn't know what a "lobster" is. The Conservative rabbi doesn't know what to say. The Reform rabbi says, "What's a "brokhe"?"

In particular, Reform Jews may be lampooned for their rejection of traditional Jewish beliefs. An example, from one of Woody Allen's early stand-up routines:

Jokes have been made about the shifting of gender roles (in the more traditional Orthodox movement, women marry at a young age and have many children, while the more liberal Conservative and Reform movements make gender roles more egalitarian, even ordaining women as Rabbis). The Reconstructionist movement was the first to ordain homosexuals, all of which leads to this joke:

In "Without Feathers", Woody Allen takes ignorance to an absurd level:

quotation|Rabbi Zwi Chaim Yisroel, an Orthodox scholar of the Torah and a man who developed whining to an art unheard of in the West, was unanimously hailed as the wisest man of the Renaissance by his fellow Hebrews, who totaled a sixteenth of one per cent of the population. Once, while he was on his way to synagogue to celebrate the sacred Jewish holiday commemorating God's reneging on every promise, a woman stopped him and asked the following question: 'Rabbi, why are we not allowed to eat pork?' 'We're not?' the Rev said incredulously. 'Uh-oh.'

Often jokes revolve around the "social" practice of the Jewish religion:

quotation|A man is rescued from a desert island after 20 years. The news media, amazed at this feat of survival, ask him to show them his home. "How did you survive? How did you keep sane?" they ask him, as he shows them around the small island. "I had my faith. My faith as a Jew kept me strong. Come." He leads them to a small glen, where stands an opulent temple, made entirely from palm fronds, coconut shells and woven grass. The news cameras take pictures of everything — even a "torah" made from banana leaves and written in octopus ink. "This took me five years to complete." "Amazing! And what did you do for the next fifteen years?" "Come with me." He leads them around to the far side of the island. There, in a shady grove, is an even "more" beautiful temple. "This one took me twelve years to complete!" "But sir" asks the reporter, "Why did you build "two" temples?" "This is the temple "I" attend. That other place? Hah! I wouldn't set foot in that other temple if you PAID me!"

As with most ethnicities, jokes have often mocked Jewish accents, sometimes gently, other times, not so much. One of the kinder examples is:

quotation|One early winter morning, Rabbi Bloom was walking beside the canal when he saw a dog in the water, trying hard to stay afloat. It looked so sad and exhausted that Rabbi Bloom jumped in, and after a struggle, managed to bring it out alive. A passer-by who saw this remarked, "That was very brave of you! You must love animals; are you a vet?" Rabbi Bloom replied, "And vhat did you expect? Of course I'm a–vet! I'm a–freezing cold as vell!"

About Jews

Jewish humour continues to exploit stereotypes of Jews, both as a sort of "in-joke", and as a form of self-defense. Jewish mothers, "cheapness", hypochondria, and other stereotyped habits are all common subjects. Frugality has been frequently singled out:

quotation|An old Jewish beggar was out on the street in New York City with his tin cup. "Please, sir," he pleaded to a passerby, "could you spare seventy-three cents for a cup of coffee and some pie?" The man asked, "Where do you get coffee and pie for seventy-three cents in New York? It costs at least a dollar!" The beggar replied, "So who buys retail?"

Or,

Or,

quotation|A Buddhist monk goes to a barber to have his head shaved. "What should I pay you?" the monk asks. "No price, for a holy man such as yourself," the barber replies. And what do you know, the next day the barber comes to open his shop, and finds on his doorstep a dozen gemstones. That day, a priest comes in to have his hair cut. "What shall I pay you, my son?" "No price, for a man of the cloth such as yourself." And what do you know, the next day the barber comes to open his shop, and finds on his doorstep a dozen roses. That day, Rabbi Finklestein comes in to get his "payoss" [sideburns] trimmed. "What do you want I should pay you?" "Nothing, for a man of God such as yourself." And the next morning, what do you know? The barber finds on his doorstep — a dozen rabbis!

Or,

quotation|A Jewish man lies on his deathbed, surrounded by his children. "Ah," he says, "I can smell your mother's brisket — how I would love to taste it one last time before I die." So one of his sons hurries down to the kitchen, but he returns empty-handed. "Sorry, papa. She says it's for "after" the funeral."

Or,

About traditional roles of men and women in Jewish families:

quotation|A boy comes home from school and tells his mother he got a part in the school play. "That's wonderful!" says the mother, "Which part?" "The part of a Jewish husband," says the boy, proudly. Frowning, the mother says, "Go back and tell them you want a "speaking" role!"

Or, on parenting, (from David Bader's "Haikus for Jews"):

quotation|Is one Nobel Prize so much to ask from a child after all I've done?

or

quotation|"Sarah, how's that boy of yours?" "David? Ach, don't ask - he's living in Miami with a man named Miguel" "That's terrible!" "I know - why couldn't he find a nice Jewish boy?

Regarding hypochondria:

Or, on kvetching,

quotation| A Jewish man in a hospital tells the doctor he wants to be transferred to a different hospital.
The doctor says "What's wrong? Is it the food?" "No, the food is fine. I can't kvetch." "Is it the room?" "No, the room is fine. I can't kvetch." "Is it the staff?" "No, everyone on the staff is fine. I can't kvetch." "Then why do you want to be transferred?" "I can't kvetch!"

A version of that joke is quoted in "Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods", by Michael Wex, who writes,

"It contains virtually every important element of the Yiddish-speaking mind-set in easily accessible form: the constant tension between the Jewish and the non-Jewish; the faux naivete that allows the old man to pretend that he isn't disturbing anyone; the deflation of the other passenger's hopes, the disappointment of all his expectations after he has watered the Jew; and most importantly of all, the underlying assumption, the fundamental idea that kvetching - complaining - is not only a pastime, not only a response to adverse or imperfect circumstance, but a way of life that has nothing to do with the fulfillment or frustration of desire." [cite book
last = Wex
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Wex
coauthors =
title = Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods
publisher = St. Martin's Press
date=August 25, 2005
location =
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0312307411
]

About Christianity

Many Jewish jokes involve a rabbi and a Christian clergyman, exploiting different interpretations of a shared textual background. Often they start with something like "A rabbi and a priest..." and make fun of either the rabbi's interpretation of Christianity or (seeming) differences between Christian and Jewish interpretation of some areas.

quotation|A rabbi and a Catholic priest are having lunch in a restaurant. The priest's food arrives, a scrumptious-looking ham entrée.The priest attacks his lunch, savouring every bite of the ham. Noticing the rabbi eyeing him, he asks, "So tell me, Rabbi Goldblum, have you ever had any pork before?" The rabbi hesitates. "Well, it's not for me to say..." The priest pushes on. "Oh, c'mon, Rabbi. We're both men of God here. We can tell each other our sins. Nothing to it." "Umm... well, yes, as a matter of fact, I did have pork once." Smugly the priest teases him, "And a fine meat it was, wasn't it? Heheh." "Yeah, I'll say." A few moments pass. The rabbi asks the priest: "Tell me Father, have you ever had sex with a woman before?" "Why of course... well, before I took holy orders, that is." The rabbi smirks, "Sure beat the taste of pork, didn't it?"

Or, much more succinctly,

quotation|A Catholic priest says to a rabbi, "It seems to me that, since the Creator made pork, He must have made it for some purpose. Therefore, it must be a sin not to "use" it, don't you think? So, will you finally eat some pork?" The rabbi replies, "I "will" try some — at "your" wedding, Father"

A few more examples:

quotation|A rabbi once asked his old friend, a priest, "Could you ever be promoted within your Church?" The priest says, thoughtfully, "Well, I could become a bishop." The rabbi persists, "And after that?" With a pause for consideration, the priest replies, "Maybe I could be a cardinal, even." "And then?" After thinking for some time, the priest responds, "Someday I may even rise to be the Pope." But the rabbi is still not satisfied. "And "then"?" With an air of incredulity, the priest cries, "What more could I become? God Himself?" The rabbi says quietly, "One of "our" boys made it."

Or,

quotation|A rabbi is on his deathbed, and a friend asks him if he has any last requests. The Rabbi asks his friend to find him a Catholic priest, so that he might convert.Confused, his friend asks, "Rabbi, why? You have been a great teacher and leader of your followers, and you have led a good and honorable Jewish life. Why would you want to become a Catholic now, before you die?" He says, "Eh, better one of them than one of us.":(Note: This joke is also seen with an Irish Catholic replacing the Rabbi, and a Protestant minister replacing the Catholic priest.):(Note: Also a nationalistic joke with one of the persons Romanian and the other Hungarian; religious joke too, since Romanians are mostly Orthodox Christians and the Hungarians are Catholics or Protestants

Or,quotation|A minister told his friend Rabbi Goldman, "Last night, I dreamed of the Jewish Heaven. It was a slum, and it was overflowing with people — running, playing, talking, sitting — doing all sorts of things. But the dream, and the noise, was so terrific that I woke up." The rabbi said, "Really? Last night, I dreamed of the Protestant Heaven. It was a nice, proper suburb, with neatly trimmed lawns, and houses all neatly lined up." "And how did the people behave?" asked the minister. "What people?"

Or,

quotation|A Catholic priest is called away by a family emergency one day, while on duty attending confession. Not wanting to leave the confessional unattended, he asks his friend, a rabbi from the synagogue across the street, if he can fill in for him. The rabbi says he wouldn't know what to do, so the priest agrees to stay with him for a few minutes and show him the ropes. They enter their half of the confessional together and soon enough, a woman enters and says, "Father forgive me, for I have sinned." "What did you do?" asks the priest. "I have committed adultery." she replies. "How many times?" continues the priest. "Three times." "Do three Hail Marys, put $5 in the poor-box, and sin no more." finishes the priest. The woman leaves and not long after a man enters and says, "Father forgive me, for I have sinned." "What did you do?" "I have committed adultery." "How many times?" "Three times." "Do three Hail Marys, put $5 in the poor-box, and sin no more." The man leaves. The rabbi tells the priest he thinks he's got it figured out now, so the priest leaves, and the rabbi waits until another woman enters the confessional, who says, "Father forgive me, for I have sinned." "What did you do," asks the rabbi. "I have committed adultery," she replies. "How many times?" "Twice." "I tell you what," says the rabbi. "Go do it one more time and come back. We got a special this week, three for $5!"

And finally, possibly the most gigantic clash of religions:

quotation|One Pope, in the Dark Ages, decreed that all Jews had to leave Rome. The Jews did not want to leave, and so the Pope challenged them to a disputation to prove that they could remain. No one, however wanted the responsibility... until the synagogue janitor, Moishe, volunteered. As there was nobody else who wanted to go, Moishe was given the task. But because he knew only Hebrew, a silent debate was agreed. The day of the debate came, and they went to St. Peter's Square to sort out the decision. First the Pope waved his hand around his head. Moishe pointed firmly at the ground. The Pope, in some surprise, held up three fingers. In response, Moishe gave him the middle finger. The crowd started to complain, but the Pope thoughtfully waved them to be quiet. He took out a bottle of wine and a wafer, holding them up. Moishe took out an apple, and held it up. The Pope, to the people’s surprise, said, "I concede. This man is too good. The Jews can stay." Later, the Pope was asked what the debate had meant. He explained, "First, I showed him the Heavens, to show that God is everywhere. He pointed at the ground to signify that God is right here with us. I showed him three fingers, for the Trinity. He reminded me that there is One God common to both our religions. I showed him wine and a wafer, for God's forgiveness. With an apple, he showed me original sin. The man was a master of silent debate." In the Jewish corner, Moishe had the same question put to him, and answered, "It was all nonsense, really. First, he told me that this whole town would be free of Jews. I told him, Go to Hell! We’re staying right here! Then, he told me we had three days to get out. I told him just what I thought of that proposal." An older woman asked, "But what about the part at the end?" "That?" said Moishe with a shrug, "Well, I saw him take out his lunch, so I took out mine."

About Antisemitism

Jewish humour in the Soviet Union

In the Stalinist police state, it was not uncommon to get purged not only for telling a casual joke, but even for not reporting it to the authorities. "See Russian joke in general, or more specifically Rabinovich jokes, Russian Jewish jokes, Russian political jokes; also History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union"

quotation
"Q:" Rabinovich, what is a fortune? "A:" A fortune is to live in our Socialist motherland. "Q:" And what's a misfortune? "A:" A misfortune is to have such a fortune.
Orquotation|An old Armenian is on his deathbed: "My children, remember to defend the Jews." "Why Jews?" "Because if they are gone, we will be next."Orquotation|An old Jewish man is picked up by the Stalinist police and brought in for questioning:
"Q:" Where were you born?! "A:" St. Petersburg. "Q:" Where do you live?! "A:" Leningrad. "Q:" (menacingly) Where would you like to die?! "A:" St. Petersburg.
Or, in the last years of the Soviet Union:quotation
"Q:" Comrade Lev, why now, just when things are getting better for your people, are you applying for an exit visa to make "aliyah" to Israel? "A:" Well, comrade, there are two reasons. One is that my next-door neighbor is "Pamyat" and he tells me that after they get rid of you communists, they are coming next after the Jews. "Q:" But they will never get rid of us communists! "A:" I know, I know, of course you are right! And that's the "other" reason.
Orquotation|An old Jewish man was finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union, to emigrate to Israel. When he was searched at the Moscow airport, the customs official found a bust of Lenin. "Customs:" What is that? "Old man:" What is that? What is that?! Don't say "What" is that?" say "Who" is that?". That is Lenin! The genius who thought up this worker's paradise! The official laughed and let the old man through. The old man arrived at Tel Aviv airport, where an Israeli customs official found the bust of Lenin. "Customs:" What is that? "Old man:" What is that? What is that?! Don't say "What" is that?" say "Who" is that?". That is Lenin! The sonofabitch! I will put him on display in my toilet for all the years he prevented an old man from coming home. The official laughed and let him through. When he arrived at his family's house in Jerusalem, his grandson saw him unpack the bust. "Grandson:" Who is that? "Old man:" Who is that? Who is that?! Don't say "Who" is that?" say "What" is that?" "That", my child, is eight pounds of gold!

Israeli humour

Israeli humour featured many of the same themes as Jewish humour elsewhere, making fun of the country and its habits, while containing a fair bit of gallows humour as well, as a joke from a 1950 Israeli joke book indicates:

There are also jokes on different groups in Israel, such as Moroccan Jews:quotation
A: What is written on the first page of a Moroccan cooking book? Q: "First of all, relax..."

Or about the Israelis' view of themselves:quotation
An Israeli, a Brit, a Russian, a Vietnamese man, and an American are sitting in a restaurant. A reporter comes by and asks, "Excuse me, but can I get your opinion on the recent grain shortage in the third world?" The Brit asks: "What's 'shortage'?" The Vietnamese man asks: "What's 'grain'?" The Russian asks: "What's an 'opinion'?" The American asks: "What's the third world?" The Israeli asks: "What's 'excuse me'?" : (As a note, this is not strictly an Israeli joke; the Israeli can be replaced by other people with little effect to the joke—for example, New Yorkers)
Fact|date=October 2007

Finally, in a clash of Rabbinical humor and Israeli humor:

On February 14, 2006, in response to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, and, in particular, to the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, an Israeli group announced an Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest. The contest was opened to Jewish cartoonists only, who were invited to poke fun at their own religion and ethnicity.

Notes

References

* [http://www.sdjewishjournal.com/stories/cover_aug04.html San Diego Jewish Chronicle on Jewish Humour]
* [http://www.agiftforlaughter.com/description.htm Funny People - A Film About Jewish Humour]
* [http://www.haruth.com/jhumourlink.htm Harry Liechter's Clean Jewish Humour Site]
* Novak, William & Waldoks, Moshe "Big Book of Jewish Humour", originally published by Harper Perennial (1981) ISBN 0-06-090917-X.
* [http://www.awordinyoureye.com The Jewish jokes of a word in your eye]

See also

* Ethnic joke
* List of American Jewish comedians
* Humor

Further reading

*Jay Allen (1990). "500 Great Jewish Jokes." Signet. ISBN 0-451-16585-3.
*Morey Amsterdam (1959). "Keep Laughing." Citadel.
*Elliot Beier (1968). "Wit and Wisdon of Israel." Peter Pauper.
*Noah BenShea (1993). "Great Jewish Quotes." Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-38345-1.
*Arthur Berger (1997). "The Genius of the Jewish Joke." Jason Aronson. ISBN 1-56821-997-0.
*Milton Berle (1996). "More of the Best of Milton Berle's Private Joke File." Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-0719-5.
*Milton Berle (1945). "Out of my Trunk." Bantam.
*Elliot Oring (1984). "The Jokes of Sigmund Freud." Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-7910-7.
*Richard Raskin (1992). "Life Is Like a Glass of Tea. Studies of Classic Jewish Jokes". Aarhus University Press. ISBN 87-7288-409-6.
*Joseph Telushkin (1998). "Jewish Humour: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews." Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-688-16351-3.
*Ralph Woods (1969). "The Joy of Jewish Humour." Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-10355-5.

External links

* [http://www.yiddishradioproject.org/gems/23/ "On Jewish Humour"] a discourse in English by "the Jewish Philosopher", C. Israel Lutsky. Yiddish Radio Project (one of their few English-language recordings). 7-minute RealAudio recording.
* " [http://www.slate.com/id/2167961/slideshow/2167764/entry/2167759/fs/0/ The Jewish Mother] ", Slate, June 13, 2007
* [http://www.aish.com/jewlarious/ Modern Jewish Humor]


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