Text Context

Dark Humor

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

 Earlier this year, New York magazine ran a cover story announcing the death of Jewish humor. “Twilight of the Tummlers” was a profile of Woody Allen and Larry David, tied to the movie “Whatever

Works,” but it was also a prediction that their particular brand of bleak, self-lacerating comedy was not long for this world.

PHOTO: AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE: French refugee children, Portugal, 1941.

Swaggering Through The Shuk

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

I’m god. No—I’m bigger than god. And badder. I’m Clint Eastwood. I’m Jesus Christ, Captain America, and the Beatles.

I mean, look at me. Do you see me? Do you see me in my olive-green uniform, beret, and shiny black boots? Do you see the assault rifle slung across my chest?

That’s me! Finally! I am the badass Israeli soldier at the side of the road, in sunglasses, beret, forearms like bricks. And honestly—have you ever seen anything quite like me?

The 188th Crybaby Brigade

Taking Humor Seriously

Staff Writer
03/18/2010

 

Ruth Wisse has taught a course on Jewish humor at Harvard for years, but you might not know it given her most recent work. “Jews and Power,” published by Nextbook/Schocken in 2007, was a very serious book.

It argued that throughout history Jews have often blamed themselves for problems not of their own making. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, in 70 C.E., Wisse detected a pattern in Jewish history in which Jews aligned themselves with ideas that ran counter to their own interests in the hope that it might save them.

Ruth Wisse

Subversive and Sublime

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

 When Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsburg, two 50-something lifelong friends from Boston who between them have seven marriages, three children and several stepchildren they don’t talk about, come to Los Angeles to promote their book, “You’ll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Remarriage for Jewish Singles,” they announce that they love the used bookstore they find themselves in because “everything is half-off” – and then berate the hapless Jewish clerk they meet because his wife isn’t Jewish.

Jewish Women’s Archive: Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers,Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein

All In The Timing

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

Thirty years ago, when we were finishing up “The Big Book of Jewish Humor,” a few older comedians were still doing what comedians had always done. They told jokes — by which we mean funny little stories of indeterminate authorship — about a man and an elephant walking into a bar, for example, or a rabbi, a priest and a minister on a train.

PHOTO BY ADINA MENASHE, 2008, Marrakech/ the Kivunim photo exhibition, "ImagiNation: Young Photographers Engage the World"

Call and Response

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

I really admire considerate telemarketers who listen and try to sense your mood without immediately forcing a dialogue on you when they call. That’s why, when Devora from YES, the satellite TV company calls and asks if it’s a good time for me to talk, the first thing I do is thank her for her consideration. Then I say politely that no, it isn’t.

“The thing is that just a minute ago I fell into a hole and injured my forehead and my foot, so this isn’t really the ideal time,” I explain.

“A Rabbi Walks Into a Bank . . . ”

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

 A witty man was once asked: “A doctor and a banker — which one is more important in the eyes of the Lord?”

Literary lights Alter Druyanov, Y.H. Ravnitzky, Simon Dubnow, Mendele Mocher-Seforim and Chaim Nachman Bialik

Text Context March 2010: Humor

Our contributors this month look at the genius of humor, and some share a good joke. Did you hear the one about...

03/18/2010
The Humor Issue

High-Wire Act

The eruv — that ethereal yet physical boundary enabling observant Jews to push strollers and use wheelchairs on Shabbat — fosters community even as it sparks tensions.

03/06/2009
Before the Internet Age rendered geography irrelevant to community there was the eruv, the rabbinic response to spatial separation. A strategically placed wire here, a natural hedge border there, the inclusion of a fence or a highway, turns a neighborhood into an imaginary walled community of halachic intent, as such a deliberate remembrance of pre-diasporic Jerusalem.  

A Taste Of The World To Come

04/03/2009

My practice of blessing before the meals began not as an act of theology but of desperation. As the mother of two young children, I was struggling to limit mealtime chaos. In my mind, meals were meant to be episodes of calm and connection and not the free-for-all they often became. I wanted my children to appreciate the food in front of them, not just complain and make demands for substitute foodstuffs. Looking for an alternative to coaxing and pleading (and occasionally yelling) for more focus, I considered the possibility of the blessings before food.

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