Don’t pass over holiday laughs


The Jewish Internet with Mark Mietkiewicz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

Passover humor? Is this some kind of joke? Actually, yes. Although Passover is more associated with maror (bitter herbs) than mirth, let’s look at the lighter side of the holiday of liberation.

And what do we talk about when we talk about Jewish humor? Food, of course.

Mark Mietkiewicz
Mark Mietkiewicz

David Bader has taken great strides in simplifying our religion with his Yo-Yo Diet Guide to the Jewish Holidays. He divides the Jewish holy days between those on which we must starve and on which we must eat:

• Rosh Hashanah — Feast
• Tzom Gedalia — Fast
• Yom Kippur — More fasting
• Sukkot — Feast
• Hoshanah Rabbah — More feasting
• Simchat Torah — Keep feasting
• Purim — Eat pastry
• Passover — Do not eat pastry (

That may sound concise but another wit has condensed Judaism even tighter in the Short Summary of Every Jewish Holiday, certainly applicable to Passover:

They tried to kill us…
We won…
Let’s eat! (

Do you think you know everything about Passover? Then try the Passover Quiz. Here’s a sample question from a huge humor site:

On Seder night, we are supposed to drink wine until…
(a) Uncle Irving’s jokes sound new to you
(b) you can no longer tell the difference between Pharaoh and Moses
(c) you don’t miss bread (

Another on the riddle front:
Question: Who was the best businesswoman in the Bible?
Answer: Pharaoh’s daughter — she pulled a profit out of the water. (

Or how about a round of Passover Jeopardy (in which you get the answer and try to figure out the question)?
Answer: A classroom, a Passover ceremony, and a latke.
Question: What is a cheder, a seder, and a tater? (

The Four Questions (revised):
I. Can we eat?
II. Do we eat now?
III. When do we eat?
IV. Will we ever eat? (

Richard Lederer compiled these Biblical Bloopers — actual mistakes made by little scholars from around the world. Try reading these at your Seder and see who spots the errors first:

“Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make beds without straw. Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments. The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. The Fifth Commandment is humor thy father and mother. The Seventh Commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery. Moses ate nothing but whales and manner for 40 years. Moses died before he ever reached Canada.” (

But we shouldn’t be too hard on the kids, really. Especially when you watch this excerpt from the British game show, Are You Smarter than a 10-year old?

In this particular episode, adult contestant Sarah is asked, “What is the name of the flat unleavened bread Jews eat on Passover?”

Unable to answer, Sarah elicits the help of 10-year-old Lisa who writes the answer, matzah, in both English and Hebrew (albeit with a small spelling mistake).

I highly recommend watching this clip as Sarah wrestles with her doubts about Lisa’s response even after her young helper pleads, “I’m Jewish.” (

And finally, this from the Truth is Funnier than Fiction Department. Back in 2003, Nabil Hilmy, dean of the faculty of law at Egypt’s Zagazig University, reportedly told Al-Ahram newspaper that if the story of the Exodus is to be believed, Jews fleeing Egypt “stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless.” (

Calling the alleged heist the “greatest fraud history has ever known,” Hilmy said that he and a number of Egyptian jurists will sue “the Jews of the world” for these lost treasures, the value of which Hilmy estimates in the trillions of dollars. (

Was Hilmy’s a lone, litigious voice in the wilderness?

It seems not. Just last year, Egyptian columnist Ahmad Al-Gamal, who writes for the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, advocated suing Israel not only for those treasures but “compensation for the (Ten) Plagues that were inflicted upon (us) as a result of the curses that the Jews’ ancient forefathers (cast) upon our ancient forefathers.”(”

If this ever gets to court, we’ll have interesting company. Al-Gamal also has a legal bone to pick with the Turks for the Ottoman occupation, the French for the Napoleonic invasion, and the British for colonialism. No joke.

Mark Mietkiewicz writes about resources for Jewish life to be found on the Internet. Contact him at

To read the complete April 2016 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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