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February 23, 1990 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-23

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'Al Tifrosh'


Editor Emeritus


lways the most urgent
need in Jewish ex-
istence, unity in our
ranks, is the most compelling
duty. It is not uniformity, and
differing in views is not objec-
tionable. In matters involving
the security of Israel and its
protection against threatened
annihilation, disputing is
treated with great caution.
When, therefore, appeals for
peace are linked with menac-
ing aspersions on Israel, the
duty to come to the defense of
the threatened Jewish
statehood is apparent.
There are scores of
developments on the Israel
front that demand attention.
And exemplary was the hor-

Separate Not Yourself From Your People

rifying shock over the
savagery in the murder of
tourists who were on their
way to Cairo. There was an
equating of the murders with
casualties resulting from in-
tifada operations. It was a
time again to remind the pre-
judiced against the young
defenders of Israel that the
weapons against them were
used as shields in the organ-
ized attacks on Israelis, and
the casualties were tragic
results of such manipulation
in anti-Israelism.
There comes a time when
there is need for unified
Jewish action to prevent
spread of misinformative in-
terpretation of occurrences in
Israel. But the manner in
which an intifada has become
a war against our fellow Jews

must not be permitted distor-
tion. In a unified resistance
against such tactics against
the young Israeli self-
defenders, there should at
least be denial of secrecy in
making public the assassina-
tion of nearly 200 Arabs by
Arabs who accused them of
collaborating with Israelis.
Emphasis on facts and
truth is among the necessities
for unified Jewish action.
Now we have immediacy in
the call for unified Jewish ac-
tion. It is the urgency of pro-
viding means for settling tens
of thousands of Jews who are
fleeing from revived anti-
Semitic terrors into the Israel
homeland. No matter what
difficulties this new exodus
must have, Jewish support
demands unanimity of action.

There is the reminder of a
basic Jewish principle which
is spelled out as "Separate
not yourself from the com-
"Al tifrosh min hatzibur" is
the traditional guideline for
the appeal for non-separation
from the society we are a part
of. It is in the second chapter
of Pirke Avot, the Sayings of
the Fathers, and the ad-
monishing statement was by
Hillel, (30 BCE-10 CE) the
Jerusalem Pharasee sage,
who is among the most
historically quoted talmudic
Through the ages, scholar-
ly commentators have given
emphasis to the importance of
the Hillel guideline, warning
the communally concerned
never to dissociate them-

selves from their fellow
There is the added re-
minder of another important
Hillel ethical code in Pirke
Avot, that "If I am for myself
alone, who and what am I?"
The moral code is apparent
in this commitment. It is the
basis for applicability of
philanthropic involvement in
the society in which we live.
Therefore the motto, now, as
the duty appeals to us in the
task of rescuing our fellow
Jews from the Russian infer-
no: "Al tifrosh min hatzibur
— Separate not yourself from
your community." This
Jewish ideal must contribute
nobly and in unity toward
fulfillment of the goal of Pi-
dyon Shvuying — rescuing
the hostages. ❑

Philosophy Of ‘Shnorrerer Panhandling Legitimized


egging, panhandling
and the right to solicit
alms in public have
been placed on the agenda of
the active demonstrance by a
judge's ruling. Faced by a
challenge involving soliciting
in the New York subways,
Judge Leonard B. Sand,
Federal District Court in
Manhattan, ruled that
"Spare change?" is just as
surely speech as "Give me
liberty or give me death,"
therefore enjoying First
Amendment protection.
The ruling has created
shock in some quarters,
especially in the ranks of sub-
way riders. Perhaps there will
be court appeals which will
bring the constitutional issue
into open debate.
Meanwhile the judge's rul-
ing introduces again into
Jewish discussion the dispute
over endorsement of begging
and the debates that have
been conducted over it
through the ages. What
Judge Sand has done was in-
troduce anew the character
and personality of the

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Vol. XCVI No. 26 February 23, 1990



The theme is as exciting as
it is often entertaining and it
invites renewed interest in
one of the most amusing
topics in the Jewish social
Shnorrer and shnorrerei are
topically continuing in
Jewish experience. They are
included in the Talmud and
reckoned with by our sages.
In modern literature they
have been treated with deep
devotion by the most eminent
Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)
earned high and unforget-
table marks for the chief
among his humorous works,
"King of Shnorrers" which
was published in 1894. It is
still quoted and reprinted.
Zangwill's Shnorrer was
reprinted again in 1960 by
Thomas Yoseloff with an in-
troductory essay by Edward J.
Fluck. In his essay Fluck gave
this definition of a shnorrer.

The present story, The
King of Schnorrers, first
published in 1894, is an im-
mensely entertaining ex-
ample of (Zangwill's) abili-
ty to recreate, in colorful
and vivid language, the
authentically Jewish
scenes of London life with
which he was familiar. As
he explained in a modest
Foreword to the original
edition, 'I have merely
amused myself and at-
tempted to amuse idlers by
incarnating the floating
tradition of the Jewish
Schnorrer, who is as uni-
que among beggars as
Israel among nations. The
close of the eighteenth cen-
tury was chosen for a
background, because,

iii 03otte Otiabm,

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Za, brut Zrnicbmen nad), he Zettcl , clubat fid)

aufe Inc toicber Nutig cinfd9fricttn, unb burcb fcibigt

gar lcant bit .(2anbIrrakn nnficf?tt grin* unrbtn brut.

trn ; fo roetbet


foiccrthIlb calf bit bagcgrn untcrist

ccriuber 1774 unb 7 ten December 1780 alai:

free 93crorbnungen


if)r t ■ inftibro nuf ba$

genoutfic iu brfofgcn t‘obt, f)itrnit bmrttfrn.


*Nig, ben stra 2urrii i 1787.

Ad Mandatum Sercnillimi


b. srUntikauftn. 2aonce v. Nottutrculi. b. 1>gbeiterg ettlitforb.

The Duke of Brunsick issued this order in 1787 confirming earlier
restrictions against betteljuden, Jewish beggars on the highway.
— from Encyclopedia Judaica

while the most picturesque
period of Anglo-Jewish
history, it has never before
been exploited in fiction,
whether by novelists or
The picturesque Yiddish
word Schnorrer comes
from the German schnur-
ren, which means to 'hum,
`buzz; or 'whir: Imitatively,
it was used to describe the
sound of the musical in-
strument played by stroll-
ing beggars. Then, by ex-
tension, it came to mean
`beg' — in a most unusual
and lofty manner, however,

one generaly humiliating
to the victim, not to the
Begging and shnorrerei
have extensive consideration
in the literary products of
Nathan Ausubel and Leo
Rosten. Zangwill's delightful
account of the theme was
given due consideration in
the anthological works of
these authors of Jewish legen-
dary and humorous subjects.
In his Treasury of Jewish
Folklore, Nathan Ausubel
devoted an 11-page excerpt to
Zangwill's 160-page "King of
the Schnorrers."

Classical evaluation of
schnorrerei is the essay on the
subject by Leo Rosten in his
The Joys of Yiddish. Here is
Rosten's definition of the
shnorren (verb)
Pronounced SHNOR-rer
to rhyme with "snorer."
German schnorren: "to
beg:' Perhaps related to
schnarchen: "to snore";
some energetic philologists
relate the whining of beg-
gars to snoring; but Jewish
beggars do not whine — as
you may read below.
As a noun:
1. A beggar, a panhandler,
a moocher.
2. A cheapskate, a chiseler.
3. A bum, a drifter.
4. A compulsive bargain
hunter and bargainer.
5. An impudent indigent.
As a verb:
Shnorren means to beg, to
panhandle, to borrow.
Every Jewish community
once had at least one
shnorrer, and often a pla-
toon. The shnorrer was not
a run-of-the mill mendi-
cant. He was no more an
ordinary moocher than a
nudnik is an ordinary
bore, or a momzer an or-
dinary child. The Jewish
shnorrer was not apolo-
getic; he did not fawn or
whine. He regarded him-
self as a craftsman, a pro-
fessional. He did not so
much ask for alms as claim
them. He expected recogni-
tion of his skill, if not en-

Continued on Page 50

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