After months of negotiation, a Jewish scholar from Odessa was granted
permission to visit Moscow.
He boarded the train and found an empty seat. At the next stop a young man
got on and sat next to him.
The scholar looked at the young man and thought: This fellow doesn't look
like a peasant, and if he isn't a peasant he probably comes from this
district. If he comes from this district, he must be Jewish because this
is, after all, the Jewish district. On the other hand, if he is a Jew
where could he be going? I'm the only one in our district who has
permission to travel to Moscow. Wait - just outside Moscow there is a
little village called Samvet, and you don't need special permission to go
there. But why would he be going to Samvet? He's probably going to visit
one of the Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in
Samvet? Only two - the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. The Bernsteins are
a terrible family, so he must be visiting the Steinbergs. But why is he
going? The Steinbergs have only girls, so maybe he's their son-in-law. But
if he is, then which daughter did he marry? Sarah married that nice lawyer
from Budapest and Esther married a businessman from Zhadomir, so it must be
Sarah's husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I'm not
mistaken. But if he comes 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 if he changed his name he must have some special
status. What could it be? A doctorate from the University.
At this point the scholar turns to the young man and said, "How do you do,
"Very well, thank you, sir" answered the startled passenger. "But how is it
that you know my name?"
"Oh," replied the scholar, "it was obvious".