After months of negotiation, a Jewish scholar from Odessa was granted permission
to visit Moscow. He boarded the train and found an empty seat.
At the next stop a young man got on and sat next to him. The scholar looked at
the young man and thought: This fellow doesn't look like a peasant, and if he
isn't a peasant he probably comes from this district. If he comes from this
district, he must be Jewish because this is, after all, the Jewish district.
On the other hand, if he is a Jew where could he be going? I'm the only one in
our district who has permission to travel to Moscow.
Wait - just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and you
don't need special permission to go there.
But why would he be going to Samvet? He's probably going to visit one of the
Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? Only
twothe Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. The Bernsteins are a terrible family,
so he must be visiting the Steinbergs.
But why is he going? The Steinbergs have only girls, so maybe he's their son-
in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry?
Sarah married that nice lawyer from Budapest and Esther married a businessman
from Zhadomir, so it must be Sarah's husband. Which means that his name is
Alexander Cohen, if I'm not mistaken. But if he comes from Budapest, with all
the anti-Semitism they have there, he must have changed his name. What's the
Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? Kovacs.
But if he changed his name he must have some special status. What could it
be? A doctorate from the university.
At this point the scholar turns to the young man and said "How do you do, Dr.
"Very well, thank you, sir" answered the startled passenger.
"But how is it that you know my name?"
"Oh," replied the scholar, "it was obvious."
Submitted by reader E.S.