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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XX, No. 4, December 1964

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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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