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A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, 1955.

Here are some samples from A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, edited by Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, drawings by Ben Shahn. First published 1955, Andre Deutsch, London. Most are short stories but there are some quick gags in the final chapters of the book.


A Hearing Aid.

Someone saw a Chelmite writing a letter in an unusually large hand and asked, “Why such huge letters?’

“I am writing to my uncle, who is – may you be spared the like – very deaf.”


A Proper Answer

They asked a Jew of Chelm, “What would you do if you found a million rubles in the market place and knew who had lost them? Would you withstand the temptation and return the money?”

The Jew of Chelm answered, quick as a flash, “If I knew that the money was Rothschild’s I’m afraid I couldn’t withstand the temptation and would not return it. But if I knew that the million rubles belonged to the poor shammes of the old synagogue I’d return it to the last penny.”


The Right Spot

A Chelmite once went about on the outskirts of the town, searching for something on the ground.

“What are you looking for?” a passer-by asked him.

“I lost a ruble in the synagogue courtyard, so I’m hunting for it.”

“You poor Chelmite,” the stranger mocked him, “why are you hunting for it here when you lost it in the synagogue courtyard?”

“You’re smart, you are!” the Chelmite retorted, “The synagogue courtyard is muddy, whereas here the ground is dry. Now where is it better to search?”

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