Where are the roots of Jewish comedy? What makes a joke Jewish? The Bible has comedy and jokes – not much, but who’s counting? The Talmud and early Rabbinic literature grew a special brand of Jewish humour, as has our experience of Diaspora. Throw in some history, the festival of Purim, struggle, persecution, poverty, Rabbinic discourse and a fear of assimilation, and we find a rich culture of Jewish humour which everybody loves, we hope. And if they don’t, we will make a joke about that too. Before anyone else does….
Maureen Kendler is a Teaching Fellow at the London School of Jewish Studies and has degrees in English Literature and Jewish Education. She is a dedicated Limmudnik and teaches there and internationally on a wide variety of Jewish texts, ancient and modern. She broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 2 “Pause For Thought” and contributes to the Jewish Chronicle “Thought For the Week” column.