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February 10, 1995 - Image 74

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-10

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The Yankee Doodle Of A Guy
Who Put A Clerk In His Place


ghe anu,

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Q: Was George M. Cohan Jew-
Q: Did Dustin Hoffman really get
Q: I remember long ago hearing
a story about a Jew and a windmill his big break in a low-budget, Ital-
A: No.
which I have since forgotten. Since ian film?
The actor, director and pro- "Tell Me Why" seems to know the
A: Yes, it's true. How embar-
ducer was born in Providence,
Dustin's first film was
R.I., and was of Irish-Catholic an- answer to every question, can you not The Graduate as many peo-
refresh my memory?
ple believe, but a 1966 loser called
A: First of all, my friend, "Tell Madigan's Millions.
His most famous song was
probably "Give My Regards to Me Why" does not seem to know
the answer to every question.
Broadway," in which he
Q: Is there any history of any
"Tell Me Why" does in fact
claimed he was "born
living in Tasmania?

on the Fourth of
A: Yes, you devil, there is in-
an extremely insightful
July." Sorry, George,
one, at that—to every- deed.
but you were in fact
Established in 1803 as a penal
thing. So please get
born July 3, 1878.
colony, the island is located south
that straight.
The late Mr. Co-
Now, this is likely of Australia. Jews were report-
han, who died in
the story you're looking ed there as early as 1819, when a
November 1942,
Jewish prisoner named Solomon
also was the compos-
A clever Jew once arrived. One year later, Emanuel
er of the famous num-
V\ lived in a kingdom ruled Levy had acquired a land grant
ber "Over There."
by an evil monarch who hat- in Tasmania. Bankers and set-
Although he was not
tlers soon followed, and by 1828
Jewish, Mr. Cohan had on at ed Jews.
One day, the king's advisers Bernard Walford had petitioned,
least one occasion encounters
with people who believed he was. told him that the Jew had and later received, property for a
In one incident, he tried to check amassed a great fortune. The Jewish cemetery.
By the mid-1850s, about 150
into a hotel only to be told, "Sor- king was beside himself with
ry, we're full," when the clerk saw anger and jealousy. He ordered Jewish prisoners were held on
his advisers to come up with a Tasmania. They were allowed to
his Jewish-looking name.
Someone nearby quickly way to cheat the Jew out of his attend services at the local syna-
gogue and were counted in the
cleared the situation up, identi- wealth.
though not permitted an
fying Mr. Cohan both as a gen-
tile and a famed Broadway delegation to visit the Jew. They aliyah or other honors.
Incidentally, the synagogue —
producer. Suddenly, a room told him the king had decided to
sell him the wind that blew the Hobart — is the oldest stand-
opened up.
But George M. Cohan already through the kingdom. The price ing synagogue in the British Com-
was on his way out the door. He was all the Jew's riches, which monwealth, outside of England.
told the clerk: "Obviously, you the agents seized. They left the It was established in 1843 and
mistook me for a Jew, and I mis- Jew with an official paper nam- continues to be open to this day,
though only a handful of Jews are
ing him "owner of the wind."
took you for an American."
The king was elated at having there to use it.
Probably the most famous Jew
made a fool of the Jew. Yet
Q: Why is it that Jews celebrate the Jew was not dismayed. With on Tasmania was Ikey Solomons,
the Sabbath from Friday night to the document bearing the kings said to be the model for "Fagin"
in Charles Dickens' classic, Oliv-
Saturday night and Christians do so seal and signature that named er Twist.
him the owner of the wind, he
on Sunday?
In the mid-1800s, the Tas-
visited every windmill owner
A: In fact, Christians for many in the kingdom and collected a manian Jewish community re-
years held Saturday to be the fee for the use of his wind. In a ceived its major boost when a
Sabbath, and Seventh-Day Ad- short while, the Jew was rich number of Orthodox Jews emi-
ventists continue to do so to this again.
grated from England.
These immigrants
But in the fourth century CE,
built the Hobart Syna-
Christian leaders decided having
gogue and in 1864
Q: I am get-
their Sabbath on Saturday made
opened the Hebrew
their religion seem too similar to ting anxious
Proprietary School. By
Judaism, and they instituted a just thinking
1911 the island had its
beit din, religious
about April
Sometime around 350 CE the
The Hebrew
Council of Laodices, a conference when I have to
Benevolent Society was
of major Christian bishops which do my taxes.
established in 1847.
established policy and doctrine Good grief, tax Albert Einstein: A taxin g question.
Among the leading
for the church, decreed that documents are
Jews of Tasmania
Christians would no longer rest
impossible. What about Albert Ein- were Samuel Benjamin, who in
on Saturday. "The Christians
1897 became a Hobart City al-
must not Judaize and sit idle on stein? He was such a genius I bet derman, and John William Israel,
a Sabbath, but ought to work he had some insight on those iras- who in 1895 became auditor-gen-
that day," they declared.
cible forms.
Four hundred years later, in
A: Sorry, pal, but even Einstein
789, Charlemagne expanded on was mystified. The inventor once Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
the order and established Sun- remarked, "The hardest thing in c/o The Jewish News, 27676
day as the Christian day of wor- the world is to understand the in- Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
come tax."
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.

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