Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancy Street in New York City one day, wishing something wonderful would happen in his life, when he passed a pet store and heard a squawky voice shouting
out: “Squawwwwk…vus macht du?… Yeah, du … outside, standing like
Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn’t believe it. The proprietor sprang out of the door and grabbed Meyer by the sleeve. “Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot.” Meyer stood in front of an African
Grey parrot that cocked his little head and said: “Vus? Kenst reddin Yiddish?” Meyer turned excitedly to the store owner. “He speaks Yiddish?” “Vuh den? Chinese maybe?”
In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars down on the counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him. All night he talked with the parrot. In Yiddish. He told the parrot about his
father’s adventures coming to America. About how beautiful his mother was when she was a young bride. About his family. About his years of working in the garment center. About Florida. The parrot listened and commented. They shared some walnuts. The parrot told him of living in the pet store, how he hated the
weekends. They both went to sleep.
Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tfillin, all the while saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know
what he was doing, and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted some too. Meyer went out and had a miniature set of tfillin hand-made for the parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to daven and learned every prayer. He wanted to learn to read Hebrew, so Meyer spent weeks and months, sitting and teaching the
parrot, teaching him Torah. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew. He had been saved.
One morning, on Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose and got dressed and was about to leave for the Shul when
the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that Shul was not a place for a bird but the parrot made a terrific argument and was carried to Shul on Meyer’s shoulder. Needless to say, they made quite a spectacle, and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and Cantor. They refused to
allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days but Meyer convinced them to let him in this one time, swearing that the parrot could daven. Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (odds were even given) that the parrot could NOT daven, could NOT speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc. All eyes
were on the African Grey during services.
The parrot perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song were chanted. Meyer heard not a peep from
the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, “Daven!” …… Nothing. “Daven … parrot, you can daven, so daven … come on, everybody’s looking at you!” …… Nothing.
After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched home, pissed off, saying nothing. Finally, several blocks from the Temple,
the bird began to sing an old Yiddish song and was happy as a lark. Meyer stopped and looked at him. “You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why? After I made your tfillin and taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to bring
you to Shul on Rosh Hashanah. Why? Why did you do this to me?” “Don’t be a schmuck,” the parrot replied. “Think of the odds on Yom Kippur.”
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