THE JEWISH PARROT
Moskowitz had bought a parrot and one morning found the bird at the
eastern side of the cage, with a small prayer shawl over its head, rocking
to and fro, and mumbling. Bending low to listen, Moskowitz was
thunderstruck to discover the parrot was intoning prayers in the finest
(Well, it wasn't Pigeon Hebrew, anyway!)
"You're Jewish?" asked Moskowitz.
"Not only Jewish," said the parrot, "but Orthodox. So will you take me to
the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah?"
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was indeed only two days off, and it
would as always usher in the high-holiday season which would end with Yom
Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later.
Moskowitz said, "Of course, I'll take you, but can I tell my friends about
you? It isn't a secret, I hope?"
"No secret at all. Tell anyone you want to." And the parrot returned to
Moskowitz went to all his friends, full of the story of his Jewish parrot.
Of course no one believed him, and in no time at all Moskowitz was taking
bets. By Rosh Hashanah, he had a thousand dollars, all told, riding on
Grinning, Moskowitz brought the parrot to the synagogue in its cage. He
put him in a prominent place and everyone turned to watch even as they
mumbled their prayers. Even the rabbi watched, for he had seventy dollars
that said the parrot could not pray.
Moskowitz waited. Everyone waited. And the parrot did nothing.
Moskowitz carefully arranged the prayer shawl over the bird's head, but
the parrot ducked and the shawl fell off.
After the services, Moskowitz's friends, with much mockery, collected
their money. Even the rabbi snickered as he took his profit of seventy
Utterly humiliated, Moskowitz returned home, turned viciously on the
parrot and said, "Prepare to die, you little monster, for I'm going to
wring your neck. If you can pray, now's the time."
Whereupon the parrot's voice rang out clearly: "Hold it, you dumb jerk.
In ten days it's Yom Kippur, when all Jews will sing the tragic, haunting
Kol Nidre. Well, bet everyone that I can sing the Kol Nidre."
"Why? You didn't do anything today."
"Exactly! So for Yom Kippur, just think of the odds you'll get!"