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April 28, 1995 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-04-28

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Happy Anniversary, Al

How a popular waltz became a "Jewish" wedding number.


0: Okay, call me a little wacky,
but I'm in love with a cartoon char-
acter. Some guys like sports, some
like cars. I spend my free hours
dreaming about Betty Boop. Natu-
rally, though, I can't continue this
relationship if she's not Jewish.
Please, Tell Me Why, ease this
aching heart and assure me my
dream babe is an MOT.
A: First of all, pal, where have

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Sentimental "waves" can often be heard rolling at Jewish weddings.

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Q: It seems that at even , _I...A.',
weddinu J attended in the 1950s
and •1960s •the band played the "An-
niversary Waltz." Is that snappy
number a Jewish tune?
A: Sort of, but not really.

The music you heard was
based on an 1880 waltz called
"Valurile Dunarii," by the Ro-
manian band leader Ion
Ivanovici (1845-1902). Very
soon after its introduction, the
waltz became a favorite world-
wide. In Europe, it often went
by the German title "Veber den
Wellen." American music lovers
knew it as "The Waves of the
Danube" or "Danube Waves."
In 1946, the waltz went Hol-
lywood. The music was re-
worked, with words added by
Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin,
and introduced as "The An-
niversary Song" in The Jolson
Story, a hokey but successful
film biography starring Larry
Parks, singing with the dubbed-
in voice of the real Jolson. (Ear-
lier, Saul Chaplin had
collaborated with Sammy Calm
on the English words to "Beir
Mir Bist Du Schoen.")
Because of the movie's popu-
larity, 'The Anniversary Song's"
association with Jolson and its
schmaltzy sentimentality, Jew-
ish dance bands began playing
it at weddings. The band leader
would ask the parents or the
grandparents of the wedding
couple to take the dance floor
and, as the band played, the
older guests sighed and got
misty-eyed while the young
people gagged.

Q. ouineoody told me the phrase
"magic bullet" is of Jewish origin.
What's the story behind the idiom?
A: The phrase was coined by

Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), pioneer
and experimental genius in the
application of chemistry to biolo-
gy and science.
Ehrlich was born in Strehlen,
Germany (now Strzelin, Poland).
In 1896, he became director of the
Royal Institute for Serum Re-
search, and three years later he
was named director of the new In-
stitute of Experimental Therapy
in Frankfurt Am Main. In 1908,
he shared the Nobel Prize for med-
Ehrlich's principal work was in
histology and blood cytology, im-
munity, chemotherapy, bacteriol-
ogy, pharmacology and cancer
research. He demonstrated the
specific staining characteristics of
granules in tissue cells and is re-
garded as the founder of modern
hematology. He created
chemotherapy as a branch of
His greatest chemotherapeutic
achievement was his discovery of
the synthetic arsenical compound
arsphenamine, known commer-
cially as Salvarsan or 606, the first
successful medicine to treat
syphilis. Ehrlich called Salvarsan
the "magic bullet" to rid the world
of the deadly disease. (Of course,
today syphilis is treated princi-
pally with penicillin.)
Unlike many of his fellow con-
temporary German Jews who
sought professional advancement
by abandoning Judaism, Ehrlich
always took an active interest in
Jewish affairs and was a Zionist.

you been since political cor-
rectness? "Babe?" Sure, she's
just a cartoon character — she
has feelings, too!
Second, cartoon characters
do not have religions. They are
fictional characters and not real
people, get it?
Nonetheless, it may comfort
you to know that Betty -
— was
should I say JM-
create'-' a ew, namely Max
leischer (1885-1972), also re-
sponsible for Popeye.
Incidentally, other Jews who
have made significant contri-
butions to the world of cartoons
Al Capp (born Caplin) is the
man behind Li'l Abner.
Irwin Hasen created Dondi.
Ted Key is responsible for
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Joe
Shuster and Jerry Siegel —
who together dreamed up the
man of steel himself, Super-

Q: My wife and I were out the
other evening for a thrilling trip to
the grocery store. After visiting
briefly with the lobsters and stop-
ping to smell the various air fresh-
eners, we meandered over to the
ever-popular pancake-mix section.
There, we discovered a box of Aunt
Jemima, which I was surprised to
hear is a Hebrew name. Is that true?
A: Yes, except that the name

in Hebrew is Yemima (a num-
ber of old translations still spell
the name with a J.) It is found
in Job 42:14. Yemima was the
first of Job's three daughters
born to him after his travails.
The name means "dove."
Incidentally, Aunt Jemima's
cousin in the rice business, Un-
cle Ben, also has a Hebrew
name. Benjamin is the English
form of Binyamin, the youngest
ofJacob's sons (Genesis 35:18.)

Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
c/o The Jewish News, 27676
Franklin Rd., Smithfield, MI
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.

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