11 Quintessential Jewish Jokes
Some old and some new, and all have an underlying point.
1. How many Jews does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Four: One to convince others to do it, a second to donate the bulb, a third to screw it in, and a fourth to make a speech saying the entire Jewish people stands behind the new bulb.
2. Two men, a Jew and a Gentile, were marooned on a desert island. The Gentile immediately got to work, dragging rocks to spell out “SOS” in huge letters on the beach, gathering driftwood to build a bonfire, and thinking about ways to build a boat.
The Jew, however, merely sat on the beach and waited.
“What’s the matter with you?” the Gentile exclaimed. “Don’t you want to be rescued?”
The Jew said calmly, “Look, I live in a city with a big Jewish Federation. Last year, I donated a million dollars to them. The year before, I donated a million dollars to them. This year, wherever I am, they’ll find me!”
3. Two men are waiting for a train. The younger man asks the older man for the time, but the older man ignores him. After a while, the younger man again asks for the time and again the older man ignores him. Frustrated, the younger man finally asks, “Why won’t you answer me when I ask you for the time?”
The older man sighs and explains: “Look, if I tell you the time, we’ll start to talk. Then when the train comes, you might sit down next to me. Perhaps we’ll get to know each other, and maybe I’ll eventually invite you to my house for Shabbat dinner. Maybe then you and my daughter would really get along – why, you might even get engaged! And why would I want a son-in-law who can’t even afford a watch?”
4. A Jew is shipwrecked and finds himself alone on an island in the middle of the ocean. To pass the time, he first builds a house, then a synagogue. Eventually, after many years, he’s constructed an entire town.
One day he is rescued, but before he leaves the island he shows his rescuers around, pointing out all the building’s he’s made. Puzzled, the rescuers ask why if there’s only one of him, he’s built two separate synagogues.
“That synagogue,” the man sneers, pointing at one of the synagogues, “that’s the one I would never step foot in!”
Praying to God
5. A man had eight o’clock reservations at a downtown restaurant. It was nearly eight and he couldn’t find a single parking spot. He circled around the block with no luck. Finally, he called out “God, please help me find a parking space!”
Still no luck.
“God, if you give me parking spot, I’ll go to shul every day.”
“God, I’ll keep kosher!”
All of a sudden, right in front of the restaurant, a car pulled out – leaving a large parking space. Eagerly, the man maneuvered into it, while calling out, “Never mind God, I found one!”
6. All his life, Shloime hoped to win the lottery. Each week, he’d pray to God intently, pleading that this be the week he’d finally win.
For years he prayed for the lottery – but he never won.
Finally one day, in the middle of Shloime’s fervent prayers, a heavenly voice was heard in the synagogue: “Shloime, buy a ticket already!”
7. Moshe was a religious Jew who sported a hat, beard, and suit. He prayed in the synagogue every day, kept Shabbat, ate only kosher food, and gave abundantly to charity.
When Moshe turned 80, he thought, “I’ve been good all my life – let me try to have some fun.”
He went to a barber and shaved off his beard. He took off his hat, and bought some jeans and a tee shirt. He bought a brand new convertible too, drove to Las Vegas, and was cruising the strip, when – bam! A truck hit Moshe’s new convertible.
As Moshe lay in the wreckage, he called out “God! I’ve been a good Jew my whole life! I know I slipped a little the past few weeks, but did you really have to do this to me?”
“Moshe?” a Heavenly voice called out, full of concern. “Moshe – is that you? I didn’t recognize you!”
8. Rachel is a very religious woman. One day, a local river bursts its banks and floods her town. The mayor warns everyone to leave. Everyone panics and starts evacuating except for Rachel, who says God will save her.
Soon, the water has filled her first floor, and Rachel goes up to a second story window. A rescuer passes by in a rowboat and offers to help Rachel leave, but she says no – God will save her.
Next, the water rises even further and Rachel clambers up on her roof. A helicopter passes and a rescuer offers to take Rachel away, but she refuses, explaining that God will save her.
Finally, the water rises even higher and Rachel drowns. She goes to Heaven, where she comes face to face with God and asks, “Why didn’t you save me?”
“I tried,” explains God. “First I sent you an evacuation order from the mayor, but you didn’t listen. Then I sent you a rescuer in a rowboat and you didn’t listen. Then I sent you a rescue helicopter – and still you ignored me!”
9. When God was creating the world, He told the angels He was going to create an extra-special place called Israel. He described the beautiful hills, the verdant fields, the wonderful springs and rivers He planned to create. Then He described how the people who lived there would be smart and resourceful, and would create great cities, wonderful art, and amazing scientific innovations.
“Won’t the rest of the world be jealous, God, putting so many wonderful things inside Israel?” the angels fretted.
“Don’t worry,” said God, “wait until the world sees the neighbors I’m giving them!”
10. Through the centuries, Jews have sometimes dealt with the terrible persecution they faced by using humor as a coping mechanism. In some cultures this grim-edged ability to poke fun at the absurdity of a situation might be called having a graveyard sense of humor. In Yiddish, it's called "a bitterer gelekhter", or laughing through tears. While some jokes born out of tragedy, like this one, might seem irreverent, this type of joke helped Jews cope with reality of their situation using humor, the ultimate stress reducer.
Two hundred years ago in Poland, a town’s Jews were in a panic: a Christian girl had been found murdered, and the Jews were worried they’d be blamed for the crime.
The town’s rabbi called a special meeting to discuss the situation. Just as everyone was sitting down, a Jewish townsman ran into the hall. “I have wonderful news!” he told the gathering. “The murdered girl was Jewish!”
11. A woman called the switchboard of a hospital and asked how Mrs. Schwartz in room 102 was doing. The switchboard operator put her on hold for a minute, then came back and reported: “Mrs. Schwartz in room 102 is doing very well! Why, just this morning her lab work came back and everything is normal. Her doctor is pleased and says she will be able to go home next week.”
“Hurray!” shouted the caller.
“You must be a relative to be so happy,” observed the switchboard operator.
“No,” explained the caller, “I’m Mrs. Schwartz in room 102. Nobody tells me anything!”