NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XX, No. 4, December, 1964
FROM A COLLECTOR'S NOTEBOOK:
YIDDISH ANECDOTES, JOKES AND SAYINGS
by Ruth Rubin
My notebooks and files contain examples of East European
Yiddish folk humor that vividly reveal the ways of life and local
mores. Others of an American vintage do the same for the local
scene. They have circulated in Yiddish and indicate intellectual
and other interests.
One of the popular East European figures, like the Tyl
Eulenspiegel type, was Motke Chabad from Vilna (Lithuania). One day,
as he was sitting together with several other fellows in the Synagogue,
during the study period in the afternoon, he overheard
several of them talking. “When I die,” said one, “I hope they’ll
bury me near the Chernobiler Rabbi!” Said another wistfully,
“And when I pass on, I wish they’d bury me beside the Sadigurer
Rabbi!” “As for me,” said Motke, “I’d like to lie beside the rich
man Opatov’s daughter!” “WHAT?” — they all exclaimed. “But
she’s not dead!” “Well”, he answered, “am I?”
The above humorous anecdote recalls an American one, which
I heard some time back, and which went as follows: A widow,
whose husband had been dead for some 15 years, was hailed into
court for some misdemeanor. Upon questioning her, they discovered
that she had 3 children all under 14 years of age. “How
come?” asked the Judge. “Well, your honor,” she replied, “my
husband may be dead, but I ain’t.”...
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