Friday Noon Study Group

April 13, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Friday Noon Study Group

Friday, February 15, 12-1

Last week we discussed one of the longest chapters in Telushkin’s Jewish Humor, Chapter 7, which dealt with “Poking Fun at God, His Law, and His Spokesmen on Earth.” As with earlier chapters, there were some good jokes shared in this chapter, but there was also a lot of interpretive discussion on Telushkin’s part–much of which may have reflected his position as a rabbi (i.e. one of God’s spokesmen).  We noted that the humor directed toward God was for the most part gentle, but that it revealed a human skepticism that was not evident in our prophets.  In response to Isaiah’s prophesy of a messianic time when “the calf and the lion shall lie down together” (11:6), Woody Allen observed that “the calf won’t get any sleep.”  There seemed to be a paucity of jokes about rabbis–because they were held in high esteem for so many generations?  because Telushkin may fail to see the humor in such jokes?  When it came to humor about the friction between rabbis and their congregants (especially synagogue boards), the jokes came fast and furious.  Our group also spent some time on other synagogue issues raised by Telushkin:  High Holiday Tickets and publishing the names of major donors.

Next week, we will hold our final session on Telushkin’s book (complete with a siyyum, a light festive meal).  Our focus will be on the Jewish Humor‘s final two chapters, 8-9, covering Israeli humor (is that an oxymoron?) and humor that didn’t seem to fit into any other of Telushkin’s categories (pp. 173-191).

Our informal discussion group meets every Friday from 12-1 in the Library at Congregation Beth Israel on Murdock Avenue.  All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise.    If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at

Looking ahead, the study group will not meet on February 22, but will resume on March 1 with a new topic:  Amos Oz’s Dear Zealots.  Stay tuned to this web site for further details.



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