Eвропейски ден на еврейската култура 2012European day of Jewish culture 2012 – The spirit of Jewish humor

На 23 септември 2012 г.  от 10.00 ч. в София  ОЕБ „Шалом”  и  РОЕ „Шалом” – София  организират традиционния Европейски ден на еврейската култура – Ден на отворените врати  на тема „Духът на еврейския хумор” в Зала „Йерусалим” на Еврейския културен дом, бул. „Ал. Стамболийски” 50. Специален гост на събитието ще бъде г-жа Йорданка Фандъкова, кмет на София, както и   представители на държавни институции, дипломатически мисии и неправинтелствени организации.

This year, the organizers of the traditional day of Jewish culture chose “The spirit of Jewish humor” as a theme. There is no doubt that humor in art always demonstrates distinctly the traits of the nation that creates it. In world literature, one can find different publications on the subject, such as Eвреи шутят, Jewish humor, Jüdisher Humor, Mathematicians joke, Physicists laugh. These are publications that not only describe the characteristics of this particular type of folklore, but also enrich it by different short examples of funny situations, jokes and anecdotes.

Our eminent scholar, Prof. Issak Passy, defined the term “joke” as “a short, made up funny story, which is usually told to make the listeners laugh”, while, according to him, an anecdote would have the same aim, but would be based on a true story. The joke is a comic miniature, based on witticism, it is short, but this does not prevent us from viewing it as a literature work, in which an artistic turn is used in a specific way. The joke has been formed in more recent times, and with the development of book-printing, more and more books of jokes in different languages have come up. Such books present the reader with traits that mark the specifics of different regions, even nations.

Идеята за Европейския ден на еврейската култура – Ден на отворените врати  възниква през 1996 г.по инициатива на Европейския съвет на еврейските общности и Б`ней Б`рит, през 1999 г. придобива популярност и  днес празникът се отбелязва в 28 европейски страни – Белгия, Босна и Херцеговина, България, Великобритания, Германия, Гърция, Дания, Италия, Испания, Латвия, Люксембург, Македония, Норвегия, Полша, Португалия, Румъния, Словакия, Словения, Сърбия, Турция, Украйна, Унгария, Франция, Холандия, Хърватска, Чехия, Швейцария, Швеция. В България Денят се отбелязва в Бургас, Варна, Плевен, Пловдив, София, Стара Загора, Шумен. Основната цел на Деня на отворените врати е да се популяризира еврейската култура и да се даде възможност на повече хора да се докоснат до еврейските ценности, традиции, обичаи и религия.

Всяка година европейските организатори определят темата на празника и тази година тя е „Духът на еврейския хумор”. Корените на еврейския хумор са заложени още в Тората (Петокнижието) и в Мидраша (библейско учение за тълкуване на текстове), т.е. още в древния свят,  а в по-ново време чрез предаване на хумористична случка – автентична или измислена, словесно от човек на човек.

The world-known physicist and philosopher, Prof. Azaria Polikar, member of numerous academic institutions, one of the most gifted authors and “spreaders” of jokes believed that the most common way to popularize jokes was “from mouth to ear”, rather than by press. He also thought that for a joke to be valued well, 25 it should be “neither sweet, nor too bitter”. No one knows where or by whom good jokes are made, yet it is certain that they would spread around in a matter of days. To enjoy a joke, one should try not to look for logic, but just to feel the funny part. Humor is a specific expression of people’s aspirations to bring about a happy mood in a conversation, to then lead to a sincere,genuine laughter; it provokes the will to have fun. People react to humor regardless of age, they love to be entertained, to smile and to laugh, in other words, they show “a sense of humor”. To feel the joke means to be aware of the twofold nature of life and to make it understandable for the listeners, so they would accept it from its funny side. In our literature, a definition of humor is given by the wellknown humorist Chudomir, born in Kazanlak. In the introduction of his selected works /1971/ he says: “They say nations are like children – they don’t like being given moral advice, and they want to find out truths by having fun. They also say that if satire is like a surgical knife, humor is a healing balsam for wounds. If this is true, we have nothing left, but to wish each other that this balsam would be mass-produced and given to everyone, since at home, there are many wounds to heal.”

Jewish humor

There isn’t just one type of humor, there are distinctions dividing humor into different categories, according to nation, class or profession, but what they all have in common, is that they are all funny, and also often provoke us into deeper insight into things. According to the great German poet Heinrich Heine, German humor is as heavy as German beer, English humor is misty like whiskey, French humor is light, fizzy and shiny like Champagne, while Scots were deprived of any sense of humor. The roots of Jewish humor were set in the Torah / Pentateuch/ and in the Midrasha /Biblical study for analyzing texts/, in other words, we can trace it all the way back in ancient times, but mainly it was created more recently, as it was mentioned above, by spreading humor stories, authentic or made up, “mouth to ear”. “Laughter helps us not only to live and work, but to get through everything that is in our way of living and working”. At traditional events in Jewish life, well-meaning people moderating celebrations like weddings tell joyful jokes to entertain hosts and guests alike. But those aren’t your court jesters who would spit out peppery and ambiguous comparisons; rather, they are all jolly chaps using their jokes to humor all and kind-heartedly spread love for the mankind. A distinctive mark of Jewish humor is the presence, in jokes, anecdotes, vaudevilles and satire, of a well expressed self-irony. There is a distinct difference between jokes made up and told by Jewish people about themselves, and jokes about Jews made up by non-Jews. Even though the first don’t lack imputed flaws, such as fibs, smaller or more significant wiles or going around the truth, egotism and inclination to fish out of tough situations and so on, they still express sympathy, compassion, willingness to forgive negative acts, criticism is not mean, always certain softness is felt. However, jokes that were made up about Jews by non-Jews, invariably give out taste of Anti-Semitism.  The humor and the witticisms are directly anti-Jewish, there is cruelty, hatred, the Jewish hero in the story is represented solely by negative characteristics, such as stinginess, stone-heartedness, badly covered  revengefulness – all of them flaws, imputed in Shakespeare’s character, the money-lender Shaylock from “The Merchant of Venice”. From a historic point of view it is possible that on the grounds of this kind of a collective portrait of the Jewish people, come all beliefs that Jews were responsible for all negativity in the world – a misconception as old as the world, an approach which does not search for the real reason for disasters but blames innocent people, notably the Jewish. Many more things could be said about humor. The sense of humor is a person’s most valuable gift of nature, and the Jewish people are rich with it. According to Cicero “jokes and witticisms are pleasant and always useful, but those qualities are not to be studied, the efforts of learning by lessons, the making up and the telling of a joke or a witticism are pointless. The attempts by those deprived of a sense of humor, to crack jokes, become a tasteless exercise doomed not to be understood, as a result of the toothless and boring wittiness and a futile еsprit.”

Heny Lorrer

There is a famous anti-Jewish joke from the time of the fascist

regime in Germany:

Goebbels – the minister of propaganda in Hitleristic Germany

was inspecting a school. The teacher, who wanted to please the

minister asked the students the following political question:

– Friedrich, tell us why did Germany lose the First World War?

The student stood up and said:

– The reason for the loss of the war is that there were Jews in the

army. They are cowards and they ran away from the front.

The teacher was pleased with the answer.

– Hans, what do you think, why did Germany lose the war?

Hans confidently answers, that there were Jews in the commandantship,

and as is popular they are thieves, they stole all the

food and that’s how Germany lost the war. The teacher greeted

Hans and turns to the student Goldstein with the question:

– Now, Jew, you answer, why did Germany lose the First World


Goldstein stood up and said:

– The loss occurred because there were Jewish people in the gen28

eral staff.

– What are you talking about? There were never Jews in the general

staff of Germany!

– I never said there were Jews in the German general staff. I

meant that there were Jews in the French general staff, that’s

why Germany lost the war.


10.00 ч. Официално откриване. Въведение към темата „Духът на еврейския хумор” – проф. Хени Лорер. Приветствия

Представяне на:

  • Изложба на художествени карикатури от Марко Бехар – презентация на Михайлина Павлова, гл. редактор на в. „Еврейски вести”;
  • Изложба на художествени карикатури, подбрани от  Еврейски исторически  музей на ОЕБ „Шалом” и „Ротари клуб Средец” – София презентация на Владимир Пауновски, директор на ЕИМ.

11.00 ч. Художествено-музикална програма с участието на: Еврейски вокален ансамбъл  „Агада – Бенедикт Молхов”,  диригент Дориан Молхов, проф. Майер Франк, Ицхак Финци, Лика Ешкенази, Ева Волицер, Йосиф Шамли, Ида Финци, Калина Вачкова, Деси Тенекеджиева, Любомир Младенов и Шкумбата.

Режисьор – Симон Еди Шварц

12.30 ч. Закриване на програмата.

Централната софийска синагога и Еврейския исторически музей,  гр. София  ул. „Екзарх Йосиф” 16 ще бъдат отворени  за посещения  на 23 септември 2012 г.  (неделя) от 12.00 . до 16.00 ч.  Вход свободен.