The Parrot — A Jewish, Original Style Shaggy Dog Story

From Jacob E Goodman [JEGCC@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU] and posted on the groaners listserv

Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancey Street one day wishing something wonderful would happen in his life when he passed a Pet Store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish, “Quawwwwk, vus machst du, yeah, du, outside, standing like a putzel*, eh?”

Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn’t believe it. The proprietor sprang out of the door and grabbed Meyer by the sleeve. “Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot…”

Meyer stood in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and said, “Vus? Kenst redn Yiddish?”

Meyer turned excitedly to the store owner. “He speaks Yiddish?”

“Vuh, den? Chinese maybe?”

In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars down on the counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him.

All night he talked with the parrot, in Yiddish. He told the parrot about his father’s adventures coming to America, about how beautiful his mother was when she was a young bride, about his family, about his years of working in the garment center, and about Florida.

The parrot listened and commented. They shared some walnuts. The parrot told him of living in the pet store, and how he hated the weekends. They both went to sleep.

Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tfillin*, all the while, saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know what he was doing, and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted some too.

Meyer went out and hand-made a miniature set of tfillin for the parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to daven**, and learned every prayer. He wanted to learn to read Hebrew, so Meyer spent weeks and months, sitting and teaching the parrot, teaching him the Torah. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew. He had been saved.

One morning, on Rosh Hashona, Meyer rose and got dressed and was about to leave, when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that Shul was not place for a bird, but the parrot made a terrific argument and was carried to Shul on Meyer’s shoulder. Needless to say, they made quite a spectacle, and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and Cantor. They refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days, but Meyer convinced them to let him in this one time, swearing that parrot could daven.

Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (even odds) that the parrot could NOT daven, could not speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc.

All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song passed – Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, “Daven!”


“Daven, parrot, you can daven, so daven. Come on, everybody’s looking at you to Daven!”


After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched home, pissed off, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the temple the bird began to sing an old Yiddish song and was happy as a lark.

Meyer stopped and looked at him. “You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why? After I made your tfillin and taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to bring you to Shul on Rosh Hashona, why? Why did you do this to me?”

“Don’t be a shmuck***,” the parrot replied. “Think of the odds on Yom Kippur!”

*See for a description of these religious paraphernalia.

**Recitation of liturgical prayers

***Undefined for the purpose of this story.

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