Stories from Chelm, Yiddish Jokes, and Other Dark Humor
(Trigger Warning: This is dark humor, written by and for a Jewish audience living in challenging times.
These will not all fit everyone's sensibility of what's appropriate or funny. If you find something offensive, it was not intended to be so. )
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 absurdity. The second sack was much heavier. So after a time it started to drag. Soon it got caught on a mountaintop and so all the absurdity spilled out and fell into Chełm.
“Which is more important, the sun or the moon?” a citizen of Chelm asked the rabbi.
“What a silly question!” snapped the cleric. “The moon, of course! It shines at night when we really need it. But who needs the sun to shine when it is already broad daylight?”
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!"
During the days of oppression and poverty of the Russian shtetls, one village had a rumor going around: a Christian girl was found murdered near their village. Fearing a pogrom, they gathered at the synagogue. Suddenly, the rabbi came running up, and cried, "Wonderful news! The murdered girl was Jewish!"
During World War II, a sergeant stationed at Fort Benning gets a telephone call from a prejudiced 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!"
One Rabbi was such a 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?"