Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Shmoozing in shul (not during the davening), a gentleman told a story about a relative of his who played in a traveling band in the 1930s. Most of the musicians were Jewish; one was black. They called the black one "Shvartze." One day the black musician asked the storyteller's relative what "shvartze" means; the relative answered that it means a person with good rhythm. So the black musician went around telling people, "Hey, I'm a shvartze." The storyteller went on to say, "My ancestor was--."

"Not a nice person," I said, trying to help out.

"No, he was a very nice person. He just sometimes liked to make nasty jokes."

I'm not going to waste my electrons or your time explaining that this was just pure nastiness and not a joke. I only note that this story was considered perfectly acceptable, and downright funny, in an Orthodox synagogue.