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Oh, How We Used to Laugh!

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Do you remember how we used to laugh when we were younger? Double up, belly aching, side splitting laughter at jokes that we heard from Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld?

Modernism has many price tags that creep up on us. We notice that things are changing, and we begin to adapt slowly, but we don't realize the things we must give up and sacrifice for "progress".

For example, political correctness. It started out in the nineties as an awareness movement. People realized that calling someone 4'11" "short" may be offensive. So it became "vertically challenged". Shoot me if you can prove that's better to say for the person being described. Crippled changed to "handicapped" until that became politically incorrect too and is now "limited". This is better?

We cannot describe things simply as they are anymore and must strain our minds to find esoteric euphemisms that sidestep the subject. Which is how truth flew out the window and fake news came to replace it. So it seems to me, at least.

One of the saddest victims of PC and most pernicious to us historically is humor. Humor has helped the Jewish people survive atrocities throughout history, from our spread in the diaspora to the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel and anti-Semitism experienced worldwide.

The Humor Column in ESRA Magazine was established in 1997 to a positive reception. Most international magazines, from Readers Digest to The New Yorker, feature much humor, and a page of lightheartedness at the end is a welcome addition to all the serious articles of our magazine too. We are all so proud of it today as the flagship emblem of our wonderful organization. Many jokes were submitted by members regularly and printed.

But in recent years, the trend has changed. Submissions have become rare and I have scoured other sources, such as the Funny Times, joke books and compilations of humorous quotes. "Jokes are like a bakery, you need fresh donuts all the time."

Fortunately, a Jewish Humor page was established on FB, with some incredibly funny submissions by readers and they could be used in the magazine too.

However, I noticed that many of the readers on FB would complain about the jokes. So much so, that it became a kvetching forum for many instead of an enjoyment.

It was a slow, insidious transition, until I read that Jerry Seinfeld, the ultimate comedian, is not willing to appear in front of young audiences anymore, because every second word of his was censored by the audience as politically incorrect.

Are we witnessing the demise of humor?

We know that just like exercise, laughter is good for your health. It improves blood flow, strengthens your immune system and lowers blood sugar levels. Additionally, laughter triggers a relaxation response in the brain, which can temporarily relieve pain and help you sleep better.

Laughter also reduces the stress chemicals in your brain and increases the amount of oxygen flowing through your brain and body, which is great for your mental health. Laughing can even turn a negative experience into a positive one and can brighten your mood for the rest of the day. People are drawn to you when you laugh because it spreads positivity and good feelings. So, if you want to make some friends, laugh more!

Since laughter is the best medicine, I have a personal question for you: How many times a day do you laugh? 

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Tuesday, 05 July 2022

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