After months of negotiation with the authorities, a talmudist from Leningrad is finally granted permission to visit Moscow.
He boards his train. At the next stop, a young man gets on and sits next to him. The talmudist looks at the young man and thinks:
This fellow doesn’t look like a farm worker, so he probably comes from this district, and this being a Jewish district, he’s probably a Jew.
But if he is a Jew, where could he be going? I’m the only Jew in our district with permission to travel to Moscow.
Ah! Just outside Moscow there’s a village called Lesnaya, and Jews don’t need special permission to go to Lesnaya. But why would he travel to Lesnaya? Must be he’s going to visit one of the Jewish families there. But how many Jewish families are there in Lesnaya? Only two, Davidovich and Orovich. But since the Oroviches are a terrible family, this nice looking fellow must be visiting the Davidoviches.
The Davidoviches have two children – daughters – so maybe he’s their son-in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry? They say Suri Davidovich married a nice lawyer from Budapest, and Esti married a tailor from Vinograd, so this must be Suri’s husband. Which means his name is Sasha Cohen, if I’m not mistaken.
But if he came 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 since they allowed him to change his name, he must have special status to change it. What could it be? Must be a doctorate from the university. Nothing less would suffice.
The talmudist turns to his neighbor and says, “Excuse me. Do you mind if I open the window, Dr. Kovacs?”
“Not at all. But how did you know my name?”
“Oh, it was obvious.”
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