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By joking about it, we succeed in transcending the tragic character of an event and bringing it under our control.

This rakish face embodying an ineffable mix of hilarity and crying beat out "refugee" and "fleek"

What do you suppose makes Jews joke so much about adversity? His satire and irony have one virtue: you never for a moment suspect that his barbs are directed at you. To stay alive, in spite of all forms of oppression, has been one of the major concerns of the Jewish people through the centuries, and their jesters found many ways to convey this message in humorous terms. A Jew manages to hide in a psychiatric asylum during the war.


He is acting like the other demented patients. I am not!

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Even in the face of impending doom there may still be some hope, as the following story will tell us:. Prominent scientists have just announced that, as a result of the global warming phenomenon, an uncontrollable flood would soon devastate Planet Earth and bring death to every living being. There were only three days left before doomsday.

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We must prepare ourselves to meet our Maker and pray that God may receive us with love and compassion. The lesson of the story is quite significant: Jews wish the world to know that they are determined to survive even the worst hell, says Bulka. They will mobilize all their energies and abilities to stay alive, even in the midst of severe persecutions.

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The victims of discrimination and injustice have no other way than to rely upon their wit and intelligence in order to overcome the hatred of their enemies. Because they faced discrimination and anti-Semitism so many times in the past, Jews had to find ways of responding with dignity — but often also, with a certain amount of biting wit — to these unwarranted attacks on their personalities.

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One of these stories brings a Jew and an anti-Semite face to face:. Now, suppose you and I were to go to Japan, it would then have one of each!

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In the battle of wits, unlike other battles, a Jew could win an argument by exposing the absurdity of the prejudice. From the Jews — and the bicycle riders! Why the bicycle riders? This article is the first in a four-part series on the characteristics of Jewish humor. To read the next article in the series, click here. This series originally appeared as a single article in Midstream magazine, which was anthologized in Best Jewish Writing Please sign in with Facebook or Google below:. If you have an older Salon account, please enter your username and password below: sign in Forgot Password?

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Laughing Through Tears

Our frustrated emoji year: A laughing-through-tears smiley face is the Oxford dictionary "word" of This rakish face embodying an ineffable mix of hilarity and crying beat out "refugee" and "fleek" Related How nonviolence changed our faces. Editor's Picks Ansari reflects on MeToo in new special. Where is the "Breaking Bad" tarantula? Will lies win the election? Our awakening to Marianne Williamson.

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