Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancey Street one
day wishing something wonderful would change his life when he passed
a Pet Store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish:
"Quawwwwk...vus machst du...yeah, du...outside, standing like a
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 that cocked his little head
and said: "Vus? Ir kent 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. Finally,
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 to do it too. Meyer went out and
hand-made a miniature set of tfillin for the parrot. The parrot
wanted to learn to daven, so Meyer taught him how read Hebrew, and
taught him every prayer in the Siddur with the appropriate nussach for
the daily services. Meyer spent weeks and months, sitting and
teaching the parrot, teaching him Torah, Mishnah and Gemara. In time,
Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew.
On the morning of Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose, got dressed and was about
to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained
that Shul was not 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 sight when they rrived at the Shul, and Meyer
was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and Cantor, who
refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy
Days. However, 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 (even
money) that the parrot could NOT daven, could not speak Yiddish or
All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched
on Meyer's shoulder as one prayer and song passed - Meyer heard not a
peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his
shoulder and mumbling under his breath, "Daven!"
"Daven...feigelleh, please! You can daven, so daven...come on,
everybody's looking at you!"
After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed
his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched
home quite upset, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the
Shul, the bird, happy as a lark, began to sing an old Yiddish song.
Meyer stopped and looked at him.
"You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why?
After I made your tfillin, 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 schlomiel," the parrot replied. "Think of the odds on Yom