Belarus SIG #Belarus Re: Litvaks in New York #belarus

Joy Weaver <joyweave@...>


I believe that the stereotype goes back a lot further than the
Holocaust. The settlement of Eastern European Jews in New York dates to
a little before 1900. My own grandparents all came between 1900 and
1907. They were Litvaks and very proud of it. And there were whole areas
on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn filled with their landsleit. Other
blocks filled with Galicianers. For a number of years these communities
stuck to their own neighborhoods and their own shuls. But eventually and
inevitably, the sons and daughters met in the public schools and
workplaces and "intermarried." The Bubbes remembered by the next
generation probably didn't seem all that distinctive >from each other. By
the time the Holocaust survivors came, the stereotype of the "Russian
Jew" was well established with no distinction made by the outside world
between the two. Only the tales and the jokes remained to mark their

My mother loved to tell a joke on the Galicianers about how two crows
fought over a piece of meat. The Gal. crow had it in his beak and the
Lit. crow asked what it was. The Gal. crow said "fl-eye-sch," thereby
opening his beak and dropping the meat. Then the Lit. crow picked it up
and the Gal. crow tried to pull the same trick, but the Lit. crow said
"fl-aye-sch" with his beak closed and kept the meat. Thus "proving" the
superiority of the Litvaks.

Joy Weaver
Islip, NY, USA

Dov & Varda wrote:

I was discussing with a fellow Jewishgenner the fact that the prototypical
New York Jewish humor never seemed to fit my experience of the Jewish
relatives I had. I believe that this is because 94% of Lithuanian Jewry was
wiped out in the Holocaust. It is likely that the stereotypical New York
Jewish Bubbe is a Galicianer, IMHO.

Varda Epstein

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