The ancient city of Chelm was not known for their intelligence. But they did have experience that we can learn from today, namely, their battle with anti-Semitism. Indeed, tragically even in Chelm they struggled with anti-Semitism, and this is how they dealt with it.

How Anti-Semitism Started in Chelm

Feivel asked if there was a sale on suits. He needed a new blazer, and he wanted to know if Walter had a deal at Walter’s Suit Emporium. Walter had no deals and Walter was mad. As logic dictates, if Feivel likes a good deal on clothes and he is Jewish, all Jews like deals on clothes and somehow this is a bad thing. And Walter and all of his colleagues started to hate Jews, because Jewish people were their customers. The hatred for Jews grew the more the Jews supported their businesses.

They Call Us Jews

Anti-Semitism was at an all-time high in Chelm. A non-Jewish townsman called a Jewish man “Jew” menacingly. They were frightened. The Wise Men of Chelm discussed the situation throughout the evening and decided that they were in fact Jews.

After days of discussion, they couldn’t figure out why anybody would call a Jewish man a Jew. It was an outrage. All were scared to leave the meeting, lest someone call them a Jew. “How do we stop Jews from being called Jews?” they wondered.

“What do we do?” they asked. The next day, they wore baseball hats, but that didn’t work, as nobody plays baseball in Chelm. So, they met again.

After a few more days of brainstorming, Shlomo advised, “Maybe we should just call ourselves ‘people.’ This way, nobody could call us ‘Jews.’ And that would put an end to anti-Semitism.” And they all left that meeting with pride, walking the streets of Chelm with yarmulkes and skirts, as “people.”

And the townsmen of Chelm began to hate “people.”

Security Guard at Shul

A decision was made that the shul needed a security guard. “How do we find a security guard?” Sadie asked in a fit of worry. Bayla had the answer, “We get a person who is large and creepy. A man who stares people down when they enter the building.” “Exactly,” the Wise Men agreed in unison, “Somebody who you would be afraid of.”

And they got a frightening looking guy who was 6’5” and weighed 320 pounds to stand at the entrance of the shul. And then the Jews stopped going to shul.

At the next meeting Yankel brought up the issue, “Jews are afraid of entering the shul. I saw multiple people walk into shul and turn right around when the man without the Yarmulke said ‘why are you here?’ They looked at the man, questioned themselves and went right back home.” Berel the Gabai heard this blasphemy and admonished, “You fool. This is what you worry about?! Jews not coming to shul? As long as the anti-Semites don’t come to services, we are fine.” Fayge in her support yelled, “Berel is brilliant as always. Anti-Semites love to pray and we will not allow them to daven with us.”

Anti-Semitism in University

The next week, one of the members of the congregation said he heard the word “Jew” being used in his Jewish history class at Chelm College of Culture. “Disgrace!” they shouted. Feivel was furious, “How dare they teach Jewish History about Jews? We must put an end to this.”

The Wise Men at Chelm united and went to the university in protest. And it was from then on, Jewish History class at Chelm College of Culture was to be taught about Sikhs. And nobody was offended anymore.

Befriending Anti-Semites

Yankel came up with an idea. “We must befriend the anti-Semites. We can change their minds.” This idea was met with great protest by all, as Bayla stated, “We cannot invite them for Kiddush. The anti-Semites will eat all the chulent.” Duvidel however was for this idea, the first time anybody agreed with Yankel in 25 years. Duvidel announced, “I don’t like my friends. I want new ones.” The Wise Men looked around and they all agreed that nobody liked anybody else.

The question thus arose, “How will we find anti-Semites?” And Berel again shared his insight, “We will host a football match.”

Jews Are Jews

A wagon passed and they heard somebody say, “I am a Jew.” They were worried, as “Jew” was still being used to describe Jews. “We cannot have anti-Semites in this shul,” Berel exclaimed. They asked, “Who here considers themselves a Jew?” All of the people raised their hands. Chelm’s shul thus decided to not let in its members. And the Wise Men of Chelm’s bout with anti-Semitism came to an end.