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JEWels: The Poetry of Jewish Humor

May 30, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

| $10

A Cartoon Editor, a Poet, and a Storyteller Walk into a Bar…(Mitzvah?)


City Lore Presents


The Poetry of Jewish Humor


Host: Flash Rosenberg

Featuring: Bob Mankoff, Bob Holman, Esther Cohen, Zev Shanken, Steve Zeitlin


Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 7:00 pm

City Lore Gallery, 56 East 1st Street

Tickets: $10 in advance here

             $15 at the door 

Transportation: F train to 2nd Ave or 6 train to Bleecker St.


Witty people are invited to bring original poetic jokes to be performed, and possibly included in: JEWels, the upcoming book of Jewish jokes and tales expressed as poems.


City Lore, New York City’s center for urban folk culture, is hosting JEWels, Thursday, May 30th, a special evening dedicated to the poetry of Jewish humor, featuring a mini-minion of top NYC storytellers, humorists, and poets – Esther Cohen, Bob Holman, Flash Rosenberg, Zev Shanken, Steve Zeitlin, and former cartoon editor for The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff.


The event is a kickoff, celebration, and call for submissions for “JEWels: Jewish Jokes and Tales as Poems…Teasing Out the Poetry in Jewish Humor and Storytelling“.  


The evening will be hosted by artist, bon vivant, and storyteller, Flash Rosenberg.


Highlights include:

  • Humorist Bob Mankoff talking about his new collection of “Jewishy” cartoons, Have I Got a Joke for You?
  •  Zev Shanken hosting an interactive version of Jewish Jeopardy where the punchline is given first and the audience has to guess the joke.
  •  Poet Bob Holman and Cartoonist Mankoff engaging the audience in a game where jokes and tales crafted as poems will be read aloud by Esther Cohen, Flash Rosenberg, and Steve Zeitlin, for playful debate to anoint what’s a JOKE, STORY, BUDDHIST KOAN…um, or dud?

“Jewish jokes seem to lend themselves to poetry,” says City Lore founding director Steve Zeitlin, author of several award-winning books on folk culture and poetry. In this upcoming book he says “We mine, combine, and refine our Jewish stories, folktales and jokes into JEWels. I sought to cut and carve each joke and story till they sparkle. Although some will simply make you laugh, most exist in that profound human space where you do not know whether to laugh or cry.” (Samples from Zeitlin’s JEWels below.)


Witty people are invited to submit a Jewish joke or folktale/story reinterpreted as a poem to be considered for publication in JEWels to: steve@citylore.org

At a Bungalow in the Rockaways

Four women play Mah Jongh in hushed silence

No sound but the clicking of tiles

Then, unable to sustain the quiet, the first one utters, Oy

Again silent, she places her tile on the board

The second can’t help herself, utters Oy vei


The third gives in, Oy veis meir

OK, Says the fourth

I thought we weren’t going to talk about our children



Six Differences Between a Joke and a Poem

1. A joke is something your mother couldn’t tell; a poem is the same thing but with your father.

2. Jokes don’t get better the more you hear them.

3.  A performer can’t misread a poem she fully understands, but the moment she fully understands a joke, she kills.

4. A joke answers, “To get to the other side.” A poem answers, “To see time fly.”

5. Freud never had to write a book called Poems and Their Relation to the Unconscious.

6. A joke never waits for you.


~ Zev Shanken


The Rabbis Argued

How do we know

The instant night turns into day

and it’s time to say the morning prayer


The first said, when you can tell a red thread

From a blue


The second, no, when you can tell a purple

From a blue


The third, when you can recognize the face

Of your fellow human being



May 30, 2019
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Category:


City Lore


City Lore Gallery
56 E. 1st Street
New York, NY 10003 United States
+ Google Map
212-529-1955 x18

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