In celebration of our jokes issue, we asked Moment staff to submit their favorite Jewish jokes. Vote for the funniest joke using the form at the bottom. May the best joke win!
Prelude: What’s the difference between a schlemiel and a schlamazel?
A schlemiel is the waiter who spills the soup on the tray as he gets to the customers’ table.
A schlamazel is the hapless person who gets the soup spilled on him/her!
Joke: A famous neighborhood schlemiel walks into an old-style dairy restaurant. He sits at a table and, as is customary, the waiter brings 3-4 pieces of rye bread and butter on a plate.
The customer is supposed to nibble on buttered bread as he/she surveys the menu.
The schlemiel butters his bread and draws it to his mouth. Of course, he drops it on the floor (no surprise)!
But it lands butter side up!
It’s a miracle, the schlemiel thinks. “Of course, I dropped the bread, but it landed butter side up!” the schlemiel thinks. “Surely, that is a sign from God that I am no longer truly a schlemiel.”
He runs out of the restaurant, down the block and to the schul where he finds the Rabbi.
“Rabbi, Rabbi, the most amazing thing has just happened,” the schlemiel says, breathlessly, as the Rabbi listens patiently but dubiously.
“The rye bread fell out of my hands, but it landed butter-side up,” the schlemiel explains. “Is this not a sign from God that I am no longer a schlemiel?”
The Rabbi scratches his chin, thinks a bit, and then responds, “Ach, schlemiel! You’re still a schlemiel; will always be a schlemiel. You buttered the wrong side of the rye bread!”
—Dan Freedman, Senior Editor
Do you know Jews believe in three velts (worlds)?
- Diese velt (this world);
- Yenemsvelt (the next world);
—Diane Heiman, Senior Editor (her grandfather’s joke)
A guy walks into a resort in the Catskills for the first time–one of those famous Borscht Belt places. Some of the old time comics are sitting around telling jokes. One of them says, “seventeen” and everyone roars with laughter. Another one of them says, “thirty-two” and again, they all laugh and holler.
Well, the new guy can’t figure out what’s going on, so he asks one of the locals next to him, “What’re these old-timers doing?” The local says, “Well, they’ve been hanging around together so long they all know all the same jokes, so to save time they’ve given all the jokes numbers.”
The new fellow says “That’s clever! I think I’ll try that.”
He stands up and says in a loud voice, “Nineteen!”
Everybody just looks at him, but nobody laughs. Embarrassed, he sits down again, and asks the local fellow, “What happened? Why didn’t anyone laugh?” “It’s all in the delivery.”
—Sarah Breger, Editor
A Jewish man in his nineties goes to confession. He confesses to the priest that he is having relations with a woman in her twenties. The priest says, “But you are Jewish. Why are you telling me?” The man says, “I’m telling everybody.”
—Pam Janis, Editor of Beshert and Moment Memoir
Four Europeans go hiking together and get terribly lost.
First they run out of food, then out of water.
“I’m so thirsty,” says the Englishman. “I must have tea!”
“I’m so thirsty,” says the Frenchman. “I must have wine.”
“I’m so thirsty,” says the German. “I must have beer.”
“I’m so thirsty,” says the Jew. “I must have diabetes.”
—George Johnson, Senior Editor
Abe and Moyshe met one day, and Abe said, “Moyshe, long time no see. How are you?”
Moshe said, “I’m fine, but I’ve changed my name to be more American—to C.E. Stanton, in memory of our old street on the Lower East Side.”
Abe replies, “What a nice idea. But what is the C.E. for?”
Moshe, “Corner Essex.”
—Eileen Lavine, Senior Editor
On pleasant days, Moshe eats a brown bag lunch in the plaza outside the building where he works. On this day during Passover, his wife has packed him a container of tuna salad and a few whole squares of matzo to go with it. He seats himself on a bench next to a man who seems to be enjoying the weather and the sounds around him. In fact, the man is blind. Moshe, no lover of matzo, taps the man on the shoulder, extends a piece of matzo and says, “Would you like some of this?” Not wanting to offend Moshe, the man accepts the offer and takes the matzo. He proceeds to pass his fingers over it to figure out what it is, and then he asks Moshe, “Who writes this crap?”
—Terry Grant, Senior Editor
Jesus and Moses were playing golf. Moses teed off and his ball flew into the trees, out of bounds, and got lost. Then Jesus hit his ball. It too flew into the trees and would have also been lost, but a bird came swooping down, grabbed the ball in its beak and flew out to the middle of the fairway, dropping it there. Then a squirrel came along and pushed the ball all the way up onto the green within inches of the cup. Then a worm snuggled up to the ball and pushed it into the cup. A hole in one! At which point, Moses turned to Jesus and said, “You wanna play golf, or you wanna fool around?”
—Francie Schwartz, Senior Editor
Moishe is a fishmonger in a market in the Old Country, one where both Jews and non-Jews shop. One day, a non-Jewish acquaintance of his stops at his market stall and, after a friendly chat, says, “Moishe, I want to ask you a question. I hear some people in the village are saying that you Jews are smarter than anyone else. Is that true? And if so, what’s your secret?”
Moishe thinks about this a minute, then he leans forward confidentially and says, “Look, I wouldn’t tell this to just anyone, but it IS true, and there IS a secret. But you must promise not to tell anyone else.”
“Of course, of course!” says the non-Jew excitedly. “What’s the secret?”
“Well, you see these fish I’m selling? Most people eat just the body of the fish. But we Jews also eat the head of the fish, and this makes us smarter.”
“Really?” the non-Jew asks.
“Really. And since you’re such a good friend, I’m willing to sell you the head of this fish here, so you can try it for yourself. In fact, I’ll sell it to you for just five rubles.”
The non-Jew reaches for his money, then stops and says, “But wait, if I buy the whole fish, with the head on it, that only costs three rubles.”
“You see–you’re smarter already!”
—Amy Schwartz, Book & Opinion Editor
When does a Jewish fetus become a person?
When it graduates law school.
—Dina Gold, Senior Editor
An Italian barber, giving a man a haircut, learns that his client is a Protestant minister. When it comes time to pay, the barber says, “Reverend, of course I am not a Protestant. But I respect any man of God. I will not accept money from you.” The minister is very touched, thanks the barber, goes out, and an hour later comes back and gives him a beautiful edition of the New Testament.
A few days later, a man in a clerical collar comes in for a haircut. When it comes time to pay, the barber says, “Father, I, of course, am also a Catholic. I will not take money from you.” The priest is very touched, thanks the barber, goes out, and an hour later comes back with a beautiful crucifix.
A few days later a man comes in for a haircut. While talking to him, the barber learns that he is a Rabbi. When it comes time to pay, the barber says, “I, of course, am not a Jew. But I respect any religious leader. I will not take money from you.” The Rabbi is very touched, thanks the barber, and an hour later comes back with another Rabbi.
—Hannah Feuer, Intern (from the book “Jewish Humor” by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin)
Two astronauts jump out of their spaceship and onto the moon. They walk around looking at the celestial body they just arrived on, and run into two hassidic men hunched over sewing machines. They incredulously ask the hassids, “What are you doing on the moon?”
The hassids say back, “Who are you to ask?” The astronauts reply, “We are astronauts, we have been training for months to get here.” The hassids look at each other disappointedly and respond, “Astronauts? We asked for pressers!”
—Bella Levavi, Intern
Top Photo: Roosevelt, rye bread and an astronaut. Credit Wikimedia and Unsplash.