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The humor of Eastern Europe especially was centered on defending the poor against the exploitation of the upper classes or other authority figures, so rabbis were made fun of, authority figures were made fun of and rich people were made fun of. After Jews began to immigrate to America in large numbers, they, like other minority groups, found it difficult to gain mainstream acceptance and obtain upward mobility (As Lenny Bruce lampooned, "He was charming. The Jewish comedy tradition continues today, with Jewish humour much entwined with that of mainstream humour, as comedies like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Woody Allen films indicate.
Sigmund Freud considered Jewish humor unique in that its humor is primarily derived from mocking of the in-group (Jews) rather than the "other".
However rather than simply being self-deprecating it also contains a dialectical element of self-praise, which works in the opposite direction.
He waved his handkerchief, and there was lake on the right, lake on the left, but no lake in the middle." To which the second retorted, "That's nothing. He was walking once, and there was a huge mountain in his path. He waved his handkerchief, and it was Shabbos on the right, Shabbos on the left, but not Shabbos in the middle!
He waved his handkerchief, and there was mountain on the right, mountain on the left, but no mountain in the middle! " Caesar said to Joshua ben Hananiah "Why does the Sabbath dish have such a fragrant odor?
One Rabbi said, "We simply called an exterminator and we never saw the squirrels again." The other Rabbi said, "We just gave them all a bar mitzvah, and we never saw the squirrels again." The rate of Jewish intermarriage is a serious problem.
Scientists estimate that unless something can be done to stop intermarriage, in 100 years, the Jewish people will be reduced to a race of gorgeous blondes.
The jokes were almost always centred on silly solutions to problems.
Some of these solutions display "foolish wisdom" (reaching the correct answer by the wrong train of reasoning), while others are simply wrong.
He sent off an angel with two sacks, one full of wisdom and one full of foolishness. Here are a few examples of a Chełm tale: In Chełm, the shammes used to go around waking everyone up for minyan (communal prayer) in the morning.