Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker
(Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn)
Yiddish Comics of the early 20th century

Translation and commentary by Jane Peppler
Click here to read about and order the seven Gimpel books I've published.

Comics read right to left. Click on any comic strip for larger view.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Editorial indecision has Gimpel in limbo while Kaiser Wilhelm makes the front page again. 8-5-1914, 8-6-1914

Here we see, first, that Gimpel is ready to rush off to war as he did earlier in 1914 when the U.S. invaded Mexico. Then we see, next day, that he doesn't go. I think this reflects some disagreement over whether the comic strip should go in that direction. I think it was risky having political opinions at this time, when it wasn't clear in the U.S. which way the war would go and whom we should support. As we will see, it wasn't hard for immigrants to be labeled "spies." It wasn't hard to get in trouble with your neighbors by espousing the wrong cause. I think for the time being, the the United States being "neutral," they decided to hold back from publishing war-related strips. At least for a while.

But Zagat also drew this editorial cartoon for the first page. The fighter, Wilhelm, is being compared to John L. Sullivan, the "Boston Strong Boy." (Hee hee, he wouldn't get far these days.)

In the political cartoon, Wilhelm is standing in Germany and the caption reads: "Years ago the famous champion fighter John Sullivan said: "I can fight the whole world." Yesterday Germany's Wilhelm let it be known, identically: 'I have no fear of fighting the whole world.' "

The Gimpel comic strips for the same day and the next are below.

I like the invented Yinglish word "trayen" (to try). I think "bodern" (to bother) is another.

I was perplexed about what's going on here: the war has just begun, the U.S. is not in the war, yet here are swarms of men going off to the consul in order to get permission to go to war. I asked my daughter, historian Hannah Farber, about this; shepointed me to a letter in the Warheit on August 1:
We, a group of Jewish youths, Austrian-born, have decided to enlist in the Austrian army to defend our Fatherland.
And in the Forverts, August 14, in response to a mother's letter bewailing her sons' determination to enlist and fight against Nicholas II:
It is true that we wish the Russian Tsar black defeat in this war. But this is also the wish of his own soldiers... why should we shoot them?

So it seems American Jewry's hatred of Czar Nikolai was so intense it overweighed any other consideration.

August 5, 1914: Naturally nobody's thinking about getting hitched. But it doesn't hurt to try.
  1. Jake: Don't bother me with your matches. Who's thinking about that now?
  2. Sam: Bother you and your matches.
  3. GB: Where are they all running, as if there were an amazing sight?
  4. GB: Oh, that's how it is? They're running to the consulate? So many bachelors - and they're all going.
  5. GB: I really have to have a look at what's going on.

August 6, 1914: Meanwhile he again has to remain in America.
  1. So I have a paper from the consulate saying I shall be sent to Europe.
  2. No, Suzy, I have no time to bother with matches in America.
  3. I'm going to Europe, to the war, understand? There'll be business for me there.
  4. I shouldn't be late for the ship. I'll get right to work.
  5. Sh'ma Yisrael! There are no ships! I'll have to stay in America.

אודאי ליגט קײנעם ניט אין זינען קײן שידוכים, אָבער טרײַען שאַרט ניט.

דזשײק: אי באָדערט ניט מיט אײַערע שידוכים. װעמען ליט עס איצט אין זינען?
סעם: פֿאַרדרעהט זיך אײַער אײגענעם קאָפּ, מיט אײַערע שידוכים אין אײנעם.
גימפּעל בײניש: װאוהין לױפֿען זײ דאָס אַלע אַזױ װי אױף אַ בײז װאונדער?
גימפּעל בײניש: אַזױ? צום קאָנסיל לױפֿען זײ? אַזױ פֿיעל בחורים – און אַלע צו איהם.
גימפּעל בײניש: דאַרף מען טאַקע אַ קוק טהוען װאָס דאָ טריט זיך זוהן מיר געהט עס ניט.

דערװײַל בלײַבט ער שױן װידער אין אַמעריקאַ.

האָב איך שױן אַ פּאַפּיער פֿון קאָנסול אַז מען זאָל מיך אַװעקפֿיהרען קײן יוראָפּ.
נײן, סוזי, איך האָב ניט קײן צײַט זיך צו באָדערען מיט שידוכים אין אַמעריקאַ.
איך פֿאָהר קײן יוראָפּ אין דער מלחמה, פֿאַרשטעהסטו מיך! דאָרטען װעט זײַן אַ ביזנעס פֿאַר מיר.
איך זאָל גאָר ניט פֿאַרספּעטיגען דיא שיף. איך׳ל זיך טאַקע שױן נעהמען אַרבײטען.
שמע ישראל! עס איז גאָר קײן שיפֿען ניטאָ! איך׳ל שױן מוזען בלײַבען אין אַמעריקאַ.

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