Foreword by Rabbi Shlomo Gazlan
Gevalt, is this thing on?
I told the shmendriks in logistics to make sure everything is prepared before I start this part.
HELLO? CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?
waves of feedback from the speakers, the congregation cringes
feedback sounds like a shofar until everyone is sick of it, congregation laughs
Ah! so those shlimazels can actually do something for once. Since they didn't manage to block the credit crunch, I lost faith in them.
So, chevralach, thank you all for coming for this pre-Shabbat get together of the congregation. I especially like to thank Mrs. Rubinstein for preparing all the lovely krepalach for the meeting. Thank you Rebecca, much appreciated.
General murmurs of agreement
I wanted to gather you all together because lately I've been seeing a lot of new faces. It's like we've got Jews coming out of the woodwork. What, is somebody giving away coupons?
Well, as you all know, I like to give a little talk on occasions such as this. Some of you have probably heard this one before; I like to call it "What it Means to be a Jew".
Congregation prepare themselves for a long speech
To be a Jew means you are one of God's Chosen; A Child of Israel. That should be worth something; yes? Well, a very long time ago, back before we left Egypt, we noticed that we weren't pulling in a good price at the slave markets.
HA! We should be so lucky! No, we were expected to haul boulders for their pyramids until we were kaput, and for what? A palmful of salt and a slice of unleavened bread! We realized that if we were ever going to be able to quit with the hard labor and move to something a little more white collar, we'd have to raise our asking price. After all, who will care if poor Berechiah gets pinned under a stone if we're literally a dime a dozen? It all started with one bright young economist: Robert Nathan Noah Naomi Neriah Immanuel Moses. His friends called him Nate, but they're all kaput, so he's Moses now. But let me tell you more about this whole slavery history.
Cana'an, the land of the belly dancers
In the very beginning, there was this guy named Abraham. He came from Babylon, where he had smashed idols with a club and an axe, and he then rode Barny the Bronco through Brooklyn and then Manhattan (going through Jamaica, of course), until he came upon a frontier town called Hebron. This was in a mysterious land full of beautiful belly dancers, and he was entranced. He fell in love with a belly dancer named Sarai, and so she became his cowgirl. That led to a cowbaby, Yitzhak (named after the sound he made when he first got sick). Abraham (particularly as far as his nose was concerned) was overwhelmed by having to take care of the baby, so he handed the kid off to his wife. He then set up a cowboy shop and started a decent ranch goin'. One fine day, God comes out of nowhar and started asking Abraham to sacrifice his sonny on some mountain or other. So he saddled his hoss and took his boy, and out came the axe when some animal rudely interrupted him. A woman name of Judy owned the animal, a nice looking ram. She haggled with God, and ultimately the latter went, "Okay, fine. Go with the ram. If you ladies like people, then you might as well keep the people!". In Judy's honor, her idea that people were better off alive rather than sacrificed was called "Judy-ism". And so Abe had kids, Abe's sonny had kids, and those kids had kids, and eventually the kids of kids of kids of kids got into trouble with the wonderful politicians running Egypt, particularly the more kinky of the bunch. This led to 400 years of bondage, sadism, masochism, and otherwise strange-ish sex.
We Were Slaves in Egypt
Slavery in antebellum Egypt was the way of things until Moses, egged on by Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, had his revelation. Until about 950 years before that con-man Jesus Christ was born (what we did to him was a stroke of pure genius, but that's for another story), Jews were most likely to be found contentedly toiling away building monuments and highways for the Egyptians, while the Egyptians themselves busied themselves with cat preservation and walking in a silly way. Jews were plentiful and breeding like rabbits, happy in the knowledge that their abundant offspring would be assured gainful employment, plenty of spicy Egyptian food, and at least three beatings per week. While this suited most fine, there were a few uppity Jews that thought they might be entitled to something more. These rabble rousers were organized by Moses and his brother Aaron.
Moses was a chipper young lad, all bright and full of ideas, so it was only natural that he would be a terrible, useless slave. His owners frequently told him this, mostly through the medium of interpretive beatings. Moses was unfazed, and the numerous concussions only sharpened his economic intellect. He had always been good with numbers, as a lost text containing teachings of Moses' mother, Jochebed, discovered in the early 18th century shows:
“כן, כן. משה תמיד היה טוב עם מספרים. עכשיו שב לאכול, אתה רזה מדי.”
Before long, he had his theory: The Egyptians treated the Jews so poorly because they were so cheap. If the Jews only cost more money, it would be fiscally impossible for the Egyptians to mistreat them. Therefore, Moses reasoned through his concussed haze, he needed only to reduce the Jew supply, thus upping the demand and increasing Jewish value.
Although slavery afforded the Jews a life of relative comfort, it would never raise the value of the Jewish people to the level they desired. So Jewish instigators Moses and Aaron negotiated with Pharaoh to leave Egypt with its plentiful food, and wander through the desert for 40 years. Initially Pharaoh was reluctant to relinquish his hold on the Jew community, but after a few of Aaron's cheap magic tricks (including rubber snakes in a can, red dye in a river, and conjuring thousands of amphibians and insects on a whim), Pharaoh readily agreed. The harsh conditions of the desert claimed an entire generation, somewhat successfully increasing the value of Jews as a commodity. During a heat and dehydration-induced fever, Moses had a final flash of brilliance. He decided the Jews would be even more valuable if they were perceived to come from an exotic foreign land. He concocted a back story about a Jewish homeland, called it Israel and renamed the Jews Israelites.
Aaron, on the other hand, went in a different direction. How better to thin out their numbers than to piss off Yahweh? To that end, he collected all the jewelry the Jews had managed to earn during their time as slaves, melted it down and fashioned it into an idol sure to upset Yahweh: a statue of Yahweh's mother-in-law. Yahweh spoke to Moses and suggested murdering a significant portion of Jews as punishment. Moses and Aaron immediately saw the wisdom in this opportunity and killed a third of the Jewish population; then they had a nice nosh and contemplated what to do next.
Interlude by Rabbi Shlomo Gazlan
And then came that whole business of us being brought up to the mountain being chosen as God's people and getting the ten commandments. But there is one thing they don't really tell you.
Congregation gasps in appreciation
Moses came up the mountain, got the commandments, and then looked up and said..."And....?"
Congregation stares in silent awe
"And what?" thundered the creator.
"What's in it for me?" inquired the insolent schmuk.
Congregation murmurs disapproval
Well Jewish Mothers and gentlemen, the resulting scene looked like two Jews fighting over the last matzah. Only with lightning bolts and shouts of gevalt!.
Strangled giggles can be heard from one of the far corners of the hall
ISSER LEIBOVITZ! I can see you back there in the corner! You won't find this funny as soon as I go over there and pluck your ears out!
In the silence that ensues, only the rustling of dollar notes can be heard
That's better. So, onwards went Moses into what became our first venture into self inflicted genocide.
After the Jews had wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40 years, Moses determined that the attrition rate was not sufficient to overcome the Jewish proclivity for breeding. They were reproducing like they were still comfortable Egyptian slaves. Moses and Aaron decided that if they were ever going to get the population down to a valuable amount they were going to have to try something different. Aaron, always the practical one, suggested they attempt to conquer some land. Moses knew that a lengthy war to take and keep a territory for themselves had the potential to wipe out at least a whole generation of Jews, thereby not only lowering the population, but severely hindering future breeding. He also realized his own experiments at sterilizing the population were famously unsuccessful. Moses set his sights on Canaan, which at the time served as a busy trading hub as well as the only source of kosher hot dogs, coincidentally Moses favorite food.
After several years of fighting and the death of thousands, the Jews were finally able to drive out all Gentiles and got down to business settling their newfound home. Moses decreed that all Jews would only plant peanuts and sunflowers knowing that the crops would fail in the harsh climate. Moses also decreed that all Jews only raise pigs, which of course they weren't allowed to eat. Moses' plan to starve the Jews worked well until the Jews realized they could just order take-out from Galilee. He then ordered the Jews to construct a temple reasoning that the death rate of pyramid building slaves could be easily duplicated with another large construction project. Unfortunately, the temple was completed several decades ahead of schedule and Moses was forced to find another way forward for the Jews.
A new age came upon the Mideast: the Era of People with Outrageously Peculiar Names. About 850 BC a descendant of Moses named Zedekiah took over the mantle of leading the Jews. His first act was to send a missive to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The contents of this missive were unknown to the rest of the Jews, but the Babylonian reaction was swift and severe. Nebuchadnezzar sent his bodyguard Nebuzar-adan to Canaan with orders to destroy the temple and capture as many Jews as possible. The Jews once again found themselves under the comfortable blanket of slavery; however this time around they discovered that their asking price had risen considerably and would continue to rise as the Babylonians were well known for their taste for slow roasted Jew. The long lost Zedekian Missive (as it came to be known) was rediscovered in the latter half of the 17th century finally resolving the mystery of what Zedekiah said to cause the Jews to be re-enslaved. The missive reads as follows:
“Nebuchadnezzar, I heard that your mother couldn't make a decent Baba Ghanoush even if it was the only thing that can save your empire from the Persians”
Convinced that they could command a higher price, the Jews emigrated en masse to Babylon, putting native Babylonians out of work in the process with their efficiency. For instance, Daniel, one of the first Jews used as currency, put several royal fortunetellers and advisers out of work. To increase the value of his people, Daniel bravely attempted to sacrifice himself to lions, but the lions disliked his Kosher smell and preferred the meaty flavor of the Babylonian advisors that Daniel would replace instead.
Envious of the prosperity of the Babylonians, the Persians invaded Babylon, and took control of all valuable contents therein. This included a beautiful and very clever Jewish woman named Esther, who was named queen by gullible king Xerxes. She soon had poor king Xerxes wrapped around her little finger, and could ask for anything she wanted. The Jews were permitted to freely kill their enemies during a riot which became known as Purim, and a number of anti-Jewish royal advisers and other Jew-haters were hanged, stoned, or killed with the sword. Once all the advisers were now pro-Jewish advisers, it was only a matter of time before the Jews had their city of Jerusalem rebuilt, and were gifted the land surrounding Jerusalem, as an early Hanukkah present.
Interlude by Rabbi Shlomo Gazlan
So that's the way it was for about five hundred years until some Persian schmuck came along and freed us. Freed us! Can you think of a more insulting thing? Free people; like we're some grocery store flyer. You get good deals from those by the way. I picked up a very nice piece of fish just yesterday at a very reasonable price by paying attention; something more of you should be doing. Anyway, we certainly couldn't have that so we basically pulled the same gag with the Romans.
"And they fell for it?" calls a voice from the back of the room.
Bah! The Romans were a bunch of schmendricks! They couldn't take their heads out of their keisters long enough to see what was going on around them. Things looked promising, but then along came the key to moving the plan to the next level...
Early on into the Jewish stint as Roman slaves a young hippy Jew started gaining popularity with young ladies as well as young men who were prone to wearing sandals and long burlap dresses. He gave frequent motivational speeches promoting "peace" and "love" and other such nonsense. After some time his following grew large enough to present a dilemma for the Jewish leaders of the time. After all, if peace towards Jews caught on it would allow them to rebuild their satisfactorily degraded population.
After some debate (and many bagels) a consensus was formed: they would allow Jesus' following to reach a significant number and then the Jews would arrange for him to be murdered in a public setting. By making sure to take credit, Jews would benefit in two ways. First they would be rid of a pesky problem and second, and more importantly, they would incur the bloody wrath of these new "Christians".
Unfortunately, after being spoon fed thoughts of peace and love, the Christians' retaliation was not as severe as the Jewish elders had hoped it would be. Luckily the Jews found an unlikely ally in the Muslims. The Muslims had an unexplained effect on the Christians, driving them into a blood thirsty rage. By placing themselves in the middle of the ongoing war between the two factions, the Jews were able to achieve satisfactory losses.
Unfortunately the Christians eventually caught wind of the Jewish machinations and in a cruel turn of events began to force the Jews to take shelter in Christian churches while the Christians proceeded to burn down the villages around them. When the crusades finally came to an end around the turn of the 14th century, Jewish scholars were forced to admit that the whole affair had been a bit of a bust. The Jewish population continued to slowly grow for the next several hundred years while the demand for Jews had reached a plateau.
In the spring of 1934 a young Jewish historian named Oscar Liebowitz, taking a cue from ancient Jews, paid a Jewish prostitute 10 pounds sterling to give a young German politician syphilis. Five years later an insane and resentful Adolf Hitler started a war in order to wipe out the people responsible for his sickness. After getting the Italians and Japanese support, he began rounding up Jews and slaughtering them wholesale. Jews were amazed at the German efficiency and eventually had to admit that perhaps this time around the plan was working a bit too well. Eventually the Jews, who by now controlled most of the United States, were forced to end the war. In the end over six million Jews were killed making it the most successful mass culling in history.
The New Old Nation of Israel (aka...you guessed it...Catan)
Although the "concentration camps" had been useful in reducing population, they were shut down by well-meaning Allied Troops when Germany lost the war. Jews were at a new high in value, and they took advantage of this to form a new plot to assure continued high value as a people, and secure valuable land at the same time. As a scattered group/race of individuals, Jews had not nearly been persecuted enough to keep their numbers down in the long run, so it was decided that a new nation of Jews would be formed. To ensure that their population would be limited, raising the scarcity of the Jews, the nation was established right exactly in the center of enemy nations, in a historic and strategic location so that the former occupiers of the land, as well as neighboring nations, would continue to cause trouble for the Jews. These continuing wars would unite the Jews as a people, and cause the survivors to become increasingly valuable.
Conclusion by Rabbi Shlomo Gazlan
And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is what it means to be a Jew. It hasn't always been easy or pleasant, but look at us now!
Congregation murmurs in agreement
We control the world's banks, governments, and resources. We're in a nice, comfortable spot where we can avoid persecution. We even have luxuries such as silly hats and a funny-sounding language!
So remember, next time some goyim pokes fun at you for picking up a nickel or going to temple, remember:
"Put that nickel somewhere safe!" calls a voice from the back. The Congregation bursts into laughter.
That goes without saying. But also remember this: your ancestors put up with the antics of countless generations of shlimazels to get where we are today. It wasn't always easy or fun, but that's what it means to be a Jew.
Congregation bursts into applause. Yarmulkes are thrown into the air.
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