Russians cast monkeys as Jews in circus

It’s sad to be a Russian these days.  The economy is swirling away softly down the toilet, we were unable to invade Georgia successfully, and Verka Serduchka, the Russian version of Dana International, still lives among us.  The greatest misfortune Russia faces is that it has run out of Jews to oppress due to  immigration to Israel, Canada, and the Greater New York metropolitan area.

Russians are a hardy people, though.  We know how to deal with hardships and surpass them.   Thus, we are innovating by dressing up monkeys as Jews in the Nikulin Circus, the most prestigious circus in Russia.   And the monkeys had a WEDDING.  WITH A CHUPPAH.

Micky Saidov, an Israeli businessman living in Russia never would have imagined that a trip with his daughter to one of the most talked about circuses in Moscow would go from an entertaining experience to a full-blown anti-Semitic one.

During one of the Nikulin Circus skits, the performers simulated a “Jewish Wedding”, with the leading roles being filled by four monkeys, acting as the bride, groom and their parents.


That present wagon looks like really nice Crate and Barrel silverware

These are some determined monkeys.   Heck, even I didn’t want to have a chuppah, citing homegirl Golda’s reluctance to be married under one.   Unfortunately, I was informed that seeing my parents’ only child being married partisan-style may result in a litany of medical conditions for my mom, including high fever, itchy eyes, sneezing, light heart murmurs, leprosy, and Unbearable Grief.  Which, I’m sure is the same thing Mama Meyerson told G.  Anyway, back to these monkeys.

Apparently, the trainers consulted with the Jewish cultural center before they put on this show:

The monkeys’ trainer Aziz Askarian said, “We consulted with representatives of the Jewish cultural center and they approved of everything. Moveover, they gave us advice on lighting that was imported from Israel.”

I was unsure of how to react to this situation, given that A) In the past there was no cultural center and the most Russians would have consulted before making fun of Jews is the poem, “There’s no water in your hall? Then the Yids have drank it all.”  and B) It seems the skit was done in a lighthearted way.  At most, there should be a warning that goes out to Israelis living in Russia: Please do not live here if you don’t understand that Russia has always had anti-Semitic overtones.  People, this is not Ramat Gan.

So I consulted with Mr. B, who is like a wise Latina, except that he is a Wise Russian Jew.

Mr. B: a lot of that depends on the context
Mr. B: I wouldn’t be pissed if this happened in a lot of other countries in the world
me: oh come on,  it’s anti-Semitic
me: at least they could have chosen giraffes. Jewraffes?
Mr. B: however considering how [when we lived in Russia] my mom was threatened by a drunk that wanted to carve a Star of David in her forehead and the cops said it was my mom’s fault, I tend to be more sensitive to these things
me: I tend to be more sensitive to Russians dressing up monkeys as Jews
Mr. B: would it be better if it was puppets?  it’s not like they dressed the monkeys to be money lenders
me: They could have. Maybe they just didn’t feel like making the costumes.
me: They got the peyot goin’ on
Mr. B: like the article said, they imitate many people including Russians, it’s not like this act is all the monkeys do
me: That’s true.
Mr. B: if we want to move passed being pogromed, humor needs to make a come back
Mr. B: I think it’s blown a bit out of proportion.  I wouldn’t get offended if it was the Druze or something
me: cause you’re not Druze
Mr. B: so they shouldn’t do any imitation acts?
me: They can. Just not people that they tend to have killed a lot of.  I wouldn’t mind it in America.  Cause America doesn’t quite have a history of pogromming it up.  It’s still a sore issue, and I don’t know that they approached it with the right amount of caution.

Mr. B has a valid point.  But I am still uneasy with monkeys as Jews.  Maybe giraffes for now.


  1. DK

    7/13/2009 at 9:33 pm

  2. themicah

    7/13/2009 at 10:53 pm

  3. marallyn

    7/14/2009 at 12:53 am

  4. Mike Darnell

    7/14/2009 at 2:20 am

  5. vicki

    7/14/2009 at 6:17 am

  6. Polina

    7/14/2009 at 6:39 am

  7. julie

    7/14/2009 at 1:05 pm

  8. Mike Darnell

    7/15/2009 at 2:55 pm

  9. Abu Zibby

    7/15/2009 at 3:55 pm

  10. joshua hughes

    7/15/2009 at 8:02 pm

  11. Pingback: What We Missed, 2009 Edition » Mixed Multitudes – My Jewish Learning: Exploring Judaism & Jewish Life

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