Was the bone marrow donor Jewish?

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Annie Lipsitz tells about her non-Jewish bone-marrow donor whom her father came to believe “was the best thing to happen” to her family. Photo by Bruce Guthrie
Annie Lipsitz tells about her non-Jewish bone-marrow donor whom her father came to believe “was the best thing to happen” to her family.
Photo by Bruce Guthrie

“Four men are walking in the desert. The German says, ‘I’m tired, I’m thirsty. I must have a beer.’ The Italian says, ‘I’m tired, I’m thirsty, I must have some wine.’  And the Jew says, ‘I’m tired, I’m thirsty. I must have diabetes.’”

This old joke got a roaring response from the overflow crowd when Amy Saidman told it at SpeakeasyDC’s production of My So-Called Jewish Life, held Dec. 18 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington.


Seven storytellers spent 10 minutes each on stage talking about their Jewish lives. Saidman, the night’s host, kept the audience entertained between sets by soliciting Jewish-themed jokes from the audience and telling a few herself.

Layla McCay, the first performer, talked about a memorable trip with Birthright Israel where she learned about her Jewish heritage and found her b’shert, her intended, who she said was probably not someone Birthright envisioned: “I ended up marrying a nice Jewish girl,” she told the audience.

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Annie Lipsitz mixed humor into a serious story about how, at 27, she was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone-marrow transplant to save her life. She said she had thought that her donor was a Jewish man, but after she contacted him, it turned out “he had Jewish friends and a Jewish sister-in-law and a Jewish boss, but he was not Jewish.”

Still, her dad, who was obsessed with Lipsitz finding a Jewish man as a donor, “thinks he was the best thing to happen to our family.”


Other performers included Nate Klass, who talked about being a Jewish boy from Long Island moving with his family to very not-Jewish Reno, Nev.;  and Temple Sinai Assistant Rabbi Hannah Goldstein telling a story about flying $50,000 cash from Israel to Russia.

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@JoshMarks78

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