Sigmund Freud once wrote of Jewish jokes: "I do not know whether they are many other instances of a people making fun to such a degree of its own character." Why this should be so is the subject of Jewish Humor, an erudite, opinionated, and hilarious examination of comedy as the mirror of culture, woven around more than a hundred of the best Jewish jokes, some classic, some newly minted, ever compiled. The jokes are analyzed by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, a well-known authority on Jewish life who is as celebrated for his wit as for his scholarship. Through humor, Telushkin identifies the keystones of Jewish character: family love and torments; relations with G-d; the push of anti-Semitic oppression and the pull of assimilation; chutzpah and its flip side, self-denigration; the love of learning, the passion for arguing, the commitment to justice and others. The specific issues Telushkin addresses include how Jews cope with persecution and discrimination, how Jews view money and financial successes, what Jews think about sex, how Jews see rabbis and other religious leaders, what Jews think about violence, what Jews think about assimilation and intermarriage with non-Jews and how Jews see other Jews. Insightful, sometimes stinging, and always funny, Jewish Humor offers no less than a portrait of the Jewish collective unconscious. It is destined to become the classic work on the subject.
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|