Via @VaadHaBadchanim Twitter

Jewish Humor During A Pandemic

Origins and discussion of new COVID-19 Jewish jokes.

Because of COVID-19, people are stuck at home, adhering to social distancing guidelines. Deprived of face-to-face social interaction, we’re reaching out to each other over the Internet to maintain connection. Many are responding to the difficult situation with humor. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve started our own outbreak of jokes and memes. Jokes about toilet paper shortages, social distancing and the shortcomings of video conferencing abound. Much of the Jewish community has joined in enthusiastically, producing a subcategory of Jewish coronavirus humor.

Jews are known for our ability to respond to problems with a positive outlook and a sense of humor. Laughter and happiness are not only great coping mechanisms, they also have a spiritual power. Prophets could only receive prophecy in a state of happiness or contentment. In Tehillim it says, עבדו את ה׳ בשמחה “Worship Hashem with happiness.” Yom Kippur, a day dedicated exclusively to holiness, is said to be “כפורים”, like Purim, a day devoted to laughter and celebration. Humor has helped Jews get through the darkest of times. Laughing shows that we trust in Hashem; even though things aren’t necessarily the way we want them, we realize that He does everything for a reason. It can help us come to terms with a situation so that we can do what we can to fix it and stop worrying as much about things we can’t change. Of course, it’s important not to mock people or concepts in a destructive way, and the coronavirus is a very serious issue, but finding the funny side of one’s circumstances can be very constructive.

This Pesach, the Internet was filled with jokes about how things would be different this year, helping people laugh to relieve some of the stress. One post suggested that the Seder would have to include a lot more “Urchatz” (hand washing) this year. Another declared that celebrating being saved from plagues during a plague was just about the most Jewish thing ever. Still others described plans for this year’s chol hamoed trip – the living room maybe, or even the porch? One person wrote “Tractate Corona,” a joking description of isolation in the style of the Gemara.

Via @cholentface Twitter

One of the social media platforms on which Jewish humor has been gaining momentum is Twitter. “Frum Twitter” has become a great place for people to share funny takes on Jewish traditions and concepts. The tweets can appeal to a wide audience or a niche group of people, but the goal is always to make others laugh and facilitate bonding in the Jewish community. Some Frum Twitter accounts that frequently post Jewish jokes are @cholentface, @aridPT, @FeldheimRejects, @VaadHaBadchanim, @dbashideas, @endimem_music, @aimhumor, @_nishei_ and @vivushit.

Now more than ever, we should be using humor as a source of unity and hope. Laughter isn’t the best medicine because it cures all ills, but because it helps us be able to face our circumstances in the most productive way we can. As long as we’re careful not to make insensitive jokes, humor is the best way to cheer up others. So stay safe and keep sharing your favorite jokes with your friends online.

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Rena Max is a senior at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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