And this just in from someone with a cryptic AOL address. Today being the first day of Chanukah, I thought it might bring a smile to faces Jewish and gentile alike. In these politically-correct times, I feel I should preface it by saying I am a trustee of the Shoah Foundation, and it didn’t offend me. So I trust no one else — including aviary-rights advocates — will be offended either. It’s a joke:

Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home one night when he passed a pet store (perhaps a PetSmart — PETM?) and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish, “Quawwwwk … vus machst du … yeah, du … outside, standing like a schlemiel … eh?”

Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn’t believe it. The proprietor sprang out of the door and grabbed Meyer by the sleeve. “Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot.”

Meyer stood in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and said, “Vus? Ir kent reddin Yiddish?”

Meyer turned excitedly to the store owner. “He speaks Yiddish?”

In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars down on the counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him. All night he talked with the parrot in Yiddish. He told the parrot about his father’s adventures coming to America, about how beautiful his mother was when she was a young bride, about his family, about his years of working in the garment center, about Florida. The parrot listened and commented. They shared some walnuts. The parrot told him of living in the pet store, how he hated the weekends. Finally, they both went to sleep.

Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tefillin, all the while saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know what he was doing, and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted to do it too. Meyer went out and handmade a miniature set of tefillin for the parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to daven, so Meyer taught him how read Hebrew, and taught him every prayer in the Siddur with the appropriate nussach for the daily services. Meyer spent weeks and months sitting and teaching the parrot the Torah, Mishnah and Gemara. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew.

On the morning of Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose, got dressed and was about to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that Shul was not a place for a bird, but the parrot made a terrific argument and was carried to Shul on Meyer’s shoulder. Needless to say, they made quite a sight when they arrived at the Shul, and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and Cantor, who refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days. However, Meyer convinced them to let him in this one time, swearing that the parrot could daven.

Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (even money) that the parrot could NOT daven, could not speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc. All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song passed – Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, “Daven!”

Nothing.

“Daven … feigelleh, please! You can daven, so daven … come on, everybody’s looking at you!”

Nothing.

After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched home quite upset, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the Shul, the bird, happy as a lark, began to sing an old Yiddish song. Meyer stopped and looked at him.

“You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why? After I made your tefillin, taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to bring you to Shul on Rosh Hashanah, why? Why did you do this to me?”

“Don’t be a schlemiel,” the parrot replied. “You know what odds we’ll get at Yom Kippur?!”

If you like that joke and are Jewish, like me, you may retell it. If you are not Jewish, maybe not. But my main concern is that whoever wrote it has gotten no credit for it. In hope of finding some attribution, I used the Alta Vista engine to search on “Meyer” and “Parrot” — and it turns out (seriously!) there’s a guy named Meyer who has a parrot, but not a Jewish parrot. When I added Rosh Hashanah into the search mix, I came up blank. Thanks, in any event, to whoever started this thing orbiting. I assume he’s Jewish.

 

 

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