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The Human Touch

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The fat two-volume abridged (!) New Oxford dictionary, which was obtained by barter, the full procedure of which was described fully in last Sunday’s Bulletin, has been installed in one of the most accessible bookshelves, displacing from five to six other, and more transitory, works. It may possibly intrest some of my readers to know that the first word looked up in this copy of the New Oxford was—imagine!—labile, a word I never knew existed, a word I have never before had occasion to use and shall never have occasion to use again. Whenever I shall have the need to communicate the idea looked up in the word labile, I shall use the smaller words into which it is defined. I wonder, however, if Rabbi Silver has that word in his dictionary.


Der Stuermer, edited by Julius Streicher, the journalist, exploiter of non-existent Jewish crimes, the man who recently attempted to whip Germany’s possibly flagging hate of the Jew into refreshed frenzy by publishing the ritual murder libel, must be getting to the bottom of his anti-Semitic trunk. In the latest issue of Der Stuermer to reach these shores, we learn of the latest crime which world Jewry undoubtedly will have to expiate. And that is that Alexandre Dumas, pere and fils, had Negro-Jewish blood in their veins, and that they were thus and so, if not much worse, and that they were plagiarists, which sounds like pretty cold potatoes now, and that among the authors from whom they plagiarized were Goethe and Schiller.

Der Stuermer, however, is being entirely too kind. It forgot to launch the real charge against the Dumas boys. Their real offense is that they were—Frenchmen.

I think that Jews may take comfort in Der Stuermer’s charge. I don’t mean that Jews should be in a hurry to take away from the Creoles and the French the honor and the glory of fathering and mothering two of the most colorful figures in literary history. The Dumases belong to France, no less than Pushkin, who also had a touch of the tar-brush in his blood, belongs to the Russians. The touch of comfort that I detect in the accusation is that Der Stuermer must be washed up, or nearly so, on its anti-Semitic material.

It isn’t difficult to imagine Herr Streicher tearing his hair when his underling editor brought the proof sheets of the Dumas accusation. “Mein Gott!” yelled Streicher, “is that the worst we can say about the Juden in this issue?” The underling replies mournfully, and fearfully, that it is; that the scouts haven’t been able to find anything really serious against the Jews. And Herr Streicher is obliged to give unwilling assent to the story, adding a curt command that the staff had better find something really nasty with which to charge die Juden in the next issue.

It will be interesting to discover what men of letters, or science or art Der Stuermer gives the Jews in its next issue.


A sober friend of mine who rarely drinks anything stronger than broken glass took a wee drap too much the other day in the middle of the afternoon, and a hot afternoon at that, and had to be guided home. He was celebrating in anticipation of a wedding. When he reached home, about three, he stretched out and in no time was snoring. When he awoke the light was still in the sky, but he thought it was very odd that he should awake in the morning with his clothes on, but being too relaxed to think, he fell asleep again and awoke at six the following morning, refreshed, and persuaded that sweet can be the uses of liquor when it can give you a sixteen-hour sleep.

The other day I was asked whether I had attended such and such a wedding. No, I replied. I had not, and added that I didn’t usually attend weddings and funerals and things like that, whereupon the party of the first part, to my amazement, doubled up in soundless, helpless laughter as if I had said something really funny. There’s no being serious with some people.


The pleasant recollection I still have of the Maurice Schwartz presentation of “The Wise Men of Chelm,” which I saw early last season, clothes in specific local color this rather silly Solomonic story which I have just read in Jacob Richman’s collection, “Laughs from Jewish Lore,” to which one Max Levy called my attention recently. I quote:

“The Jewish community of Chelm was on the verge of a civil war. A public bath was in the course of construction. It was being built by Jews, for Jews, and with Jewish money. . . . The town was divided into two hostile camps; one demanded to have the flooring made of smoothly planed boards so there would not be any splinters; the other maintained that a smooth floor would constitute a source of danger — it would be slippery and people might fall and be injured.

“The matter was brought before the rabbi.

” ‘My decision is,’ he said, ‘that the boards should be planed. But,’ continued the sage, turning to the rough-board champions, ‘in order to remove the danger that might ensue from rough boards, I shall direct the carpenters to lay the boards with the smooth sides downward.’ “


I met a Japanese rich in roubles the other day. But despite his roubles he’s as poor as a church mouse. He is a painter who has never been to Russia. But some of his paintings were sent there and one of them was sold for one thousand roubles, which would mean, if it were ever translated into American money, five hundred dollars. But that sum will never go through that process of translation. If Friend Artists want his thousand roubles he’ll have to come and get them and, after he’s got them, spend them all in the good old U.S.S.R.

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