Jewish Story: Do Martians Really Speak Yiddish?

May 2013
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The Martians Are Coming

By Norman A. Rubin

"Well it was exactly one Martian," said the Old Major to a bunch of old timers, six in all, setting around the warm belly stove in Lem's feed and grain emporium as he liked the name. Lem didn't mind the old folks sitting around the belly stove as they won't disturb his dealing as he wants to call it. And he reminded them when they chaw tobacco they must spit in the spittoon.

"As I was saying, there was one Martian beamed down to earth," Said the Old Major, a spry old fellow going strong; a hero in the Banana Wars where he helped saved the bananas from the peons who wanted a fair wage.

"Now you're talking like the T.V. program 'Stargate', beaming down from a space ship, Bah!' said the cranky old farmer the bane of the Old Major.

"Well you are wrong as the Martian was beamed down in Crown Heights in the Big Apple," countered the Old Major.

"Weren't the citizens of this fair suburb curious when siting the peculiarity of a man wearing a space suit with four sleeves and a space helmet covering I suppose a green face," said the banker who put away his abacus upon retirement.

"Naw!', said the Old Major in his hoarse voice, "New Yorkers tend to mind their own business and not ask silly questions. Well I'll start at the beginning to the advent of the Martian that was beamed down In New York City."

"The Martian space ship hovered over Brooklyn and the residents thought it was a blimp advertising Goodyear Tires. Then the space ship flew over the Useless Nations bldg. and the hot air emitting from the edifice drove it away into space. When it reached the limits of the atmosphere a Martian on a mission to study the earthlings was beamed down accidently to Crown Heights a suburb of the fair city of New York.

"The Martian with four arms and dressed in a space suit with a space helmet covering a green face confronted an elderly man wearing a shtreimel (Latin - a large circular fur hat), a 'kapote' (Latin - caftan), Titzis (Latin - fringes or tassels on the corners of four-cornered garments) and on his shoulders a large prayer shawl. The alien called to him and spoke 'Take me your leader!' The elder answered back, 'canst du verstait Yiddish' (Latin - Do you understand Yiddish)?

"The Martian looked puzzled and he thought it was English, the lingo of the earthlings. The elder put one hand to his face and called out, 'a goyish kop' (Latin - a head of a goy). He continued by saying,'ve vill talk in the Englisha language. Now, what was your question?

"The Martian repeated, 'Take me to your leader.'

"Whereas the old man answered back, 'I am a pro-Zionist Lubavitcher and my leader is Rabbi ------. Or do you want the leader of the anti-Zionist Satmars. Or do you want the leader of the Hasidic Breslow, or do you want the leader of Bobover Hasidim, or of the Sephardic sect of the Jews from Syria and Egypt, or, or the leaders of the movement of the Ger, Chabad, Belz, Vizhnitz, Seret-Vizhnitz, Nadvorna, and Toldos Aharon. ...

"Well the Martian was further confused and he didn't know what to answer, so his scratch his head with his four hands.

"'Oy yu veren stum, boychikle" (Latin - oy you are quiet my boy).

"The Martian walked away thinking the elderly man was a bit crazy (Latin - a bisselah meshugah). Then he decided to disguise himself to be like the earthlings. When he saw a Chinese Laundry, he entered and muttered 'I want to dress like an earthling.

Whereas the laundry man answered back, ' No tickee, no washee'.

Well as the Martian left the premises, he thought earthlings must converse to each other in a babble of tongues.

When he walked on the street he saw a shop of religious articles. He went into the shop and the young shopkeeper greeted him and admired his costume for the Purim Holiday*** "I just returned from Israel and my English is not so good. Can you understand Hebrew?"

"The confused Marian spoke in signs indicating with his four arms what he wanted to buy. He pointed to a kapote, (a long silk robe) a shtreimel, (a circular fur hat), gakates (Latin - long johns) titizes, (a fringed garment) and a prayer shawl.

"Let's see, a kapote, a shtreimel, gatakes, titizes, and a prayer shawl - It adds up to $167,00," said the young shopkeepers as he added up the figures on an adding machine.

Then Martian then took out his billfold and presented the clerk with 200 Martian Blifs. The young shopkeeper excused himself as he had to call the bank to get the exchange rate for the Martian Blifs to the dollar. When he returned he said, "It comes to 198 Blifs, but I haven't a Blifs to give you change. Whereas the Martian answered, 'keep the change!"

* * * * *

"On the following Shabbath the Martian decked himself like an earthling with the Kapote, the Shtreimel, the Tsitizes and the prayer shawl over his shoulders. Now he looked like an earthling.

"As he walked the streets of Crown Heights he was greeted by another earthling with the expression of 'Gut Shabbos' (Latin - a good Shabbath). The Martian answered back with a 'Gut Shabbos'.

"Then the Martian saw the earthlings enter an imposing building and he went with crowd into the 'Shul' (Latin - synagogue). He saw the men of ground floor and women species of earthlings in their Shabbath finery sitting in the balcony. All were davening (Latin - praying).

"The Martian was a fast learner and he imitated the davening of the earthlings; he got the responses right for the first time, He had a pleasant voice and when the cantor was ill he was appointed temporary cantor.

"The following two weeks the temporary cantor of the 'shul' was invited to all 'Simchas' (Latin -celebrations). The Martian in a black suit and small tallis on his shoulder and white Yarmulke on his space helmet (Latin - skull cap) and he officiated at wedding and Bar and Bas Mitsvahs. He also invited to the Jewish holidays celebrations. Yet, his time on earth to his mission to investigate the earthlings was overdue.

"There was sadness and tears in the eyes of the earthling when he was going to his hideout to be secretly beamed up to the space craft. It wasn't simchas at the farewell party for the temporary cantor of the 'Shul 'as he made his departure...

* * * * *

Well the Old Major couldn't describe the scene of welcome for the Martian completing successfully his mission to study the earthlings. He ad-libbed the scenario to the old timers sitting around the warm stove in Lem's feed and grain emporium. And they swallowed it as they knew the Old Major were true in his words.

"The Martian was dressed in a Kapote, Shtreimel, titizes and gatkes and a prayers shawl over his shoulders when he was beamed up to the spacecraft. He explained his dress to the intelligence officer that the earthlings wore these clothes on 'Shabbos' a special day in the week.

"He produce further evidence on him mission to study the earthlings - a 'shietal' (Latin - wig) women species wear, a 'driedle. (Latin spinning top) with secret codes and etc.He produced evidence of the food which the earthlings eat, packed in specimen bottles and packages - gefilte fish, chicken soup, knishes, cold borscht with a dab of cream. etc.

"Then Martian told his superiors of the different languages that the earthlings conversed to each other - Yiddish, Chinese, Hebrew but no English. And the earthlings have different factions with their leaders to govern them - Ger, Chabad, Belz, Vizhnitz, Seret-Vizhnitz, Nadvorna, and Toldos Aharon. ..

"'Well done, you achieved your mission and you will be promoted to Alien Number 1,' said the Martian Intelligence Officer. 'Now go and put on the electronic brain recorder so that we must have your full report.'

"The Martian Intelligence officer continued, 'We must make speed to our base in Mars and prepared for the invasion of the Earth. We must make full production of the clothes the earthlings wear; the chemists must examine the food products and give their chemical analysis so we could produce rations equivalent to the earthlings' food. Then we will be ready on the target date of January 14, 2014. We will overcome by subterfuge into the earthlings till victory is ours..

* * * * *

The old timers, even Lem the storekeeper were in awe to the Old Major's words, but the cranky old farmer had the last word, Bah.

* Prm "lots", from the word pur, related to Akkadian puru) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).


from the May 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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