Tracing One Jewish Joke Through Its Many Tellings

Stuart Schoffman has traced the lineage of his favorite Jewish joke to a compilation, The Book of Jokes and Wit, put together in 1922 by Alter Druyanov, a Russian Jew who collected thousands of such jokes and translated them into Hebrew. Although Schoffman doesn’t find many of the jokes funny, a few hold up, including his favorite:

A question was put to Alexander Moszkowski the mumar [a Jew who converted to another religion]: “You, who are both a goy and a Jew, maybe you know the difference between them?” Answered Moszkowski: “Of course I know. When a Gentile is thirsty, he takes three drinks one after the other; when a Jew is thirsty, he checks his blood sugar.”

A meme, a trope, too often a fact of life in Druyanov’s world. The Gentile as violent drunkard, the Jew as hypochondriac, expecting the worst.

Schoffman then connects this old joke to a modern version that you might have heard.

The Englishman says, “I am tired and thirsty; I must have tea.”

The Frenchman says, “I am tired and thirsty; I must have wine.”

The German says, “I am tired and thirsty; I must have beer.”

And the Jew says, “I am tired and thirsty; I must have diabetes.”

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More about: History & Ideas, Humor, Jokes

Who’s Really Politicizing Israel?

Aug. 22 2019

Responding to recent political controversies in the U.S. regarding the Jewish state, the columnist Thomas Friedman has argued that President Trump is trying deliberately to paint “the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.” Perhaps, writes Kevin Williamson, but that’s not the whole picture:

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More about: Democrats, Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar, US-Israel relations