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The Wandering Jew by Marc Chagall
The Wandering Jew
by Marc Chagall, 1924

The (presumed) End of The Wandering Jew
by Ilf and Petrov
Most sources which will bother, will tell you that the last sighting of the Wandering Jew (or Eternal Jew as he is known in other languages) was in Utah in 1868.
But most sources are misinformed.
The following is the true account of the last sighting of the Wandering Jew, what was believed to be the end of the Wandering Jew, in 1919, as it was truthfully reported by Ostap Bender on a long train trip through Russia round about 1930 and published by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov in “The Golden Calf”, 1931 (translated here by Norman J. Finkelshteyn).

I will not remind you of the long and boring story of the Eternal Jew. I will simply say that for nearly two thousand years this shallow old man has wandered the world, without checking in at hotels and all the while annoying citizens with his complaints about the high train fares due to which he has been forced to walk. He has been seen many times. He was present at the historic meeting where Columbus proved unable to account for all of the funds he borrowed in organizing his search for America. When he was still quite young, he saw the burning of Rome. He lived about a century and a half in India amazing the Yogis with his longevity and cantankerousness. In a word, the old man could have told many interesting things if at the end of each century he were to write his memoirs. Alas, the Eternal Jew was illiterate and had a horrid memory.

Not too long ago, the old man lived in the fabulous city of Rio de Janeiro, drank cooling drinks, watched the ocean liners and strolled beneath the palm trees in white trousers. The pants, incidentally, he bought just about eight hundred years ago in Palestine, from some knight fighting for the Holy Sepulcher, and they were still just like new. And suddenly, the old man became anxious. He got a hankering for Russia, the River Dnepr. He had been everywhere, the Rhein, the Ganges, the Mississippi, the Yangtze, the Niagara, the Volga. About the only place he hadn’t been was the Dnepr. So, you see, he wanted to cast his eyes upon that wide river.
It was exactly 1919, when the Eternal Jew, in his knightly trousers, illegally passed the Romanian border. I’m unsure whether its even worth saying that upon his belly were hidden eight pairs of silk stockings and a flagon of Parisian perfume which a certain Kishinev matron asked him to pass on to relatives in Kiev.
Symon Petlura
Symon Petlura
Leader of the Ukranian Nationalist government from 1917 (an insurgent paramilitary from 1919).
His armies slaughtered (at the lower estimates) between 14,000 and 40,000 Jewish civilians - including women and children.
In that tumultuous time, this way of carrying of contraband on the belly was a particular trick which he had been carefully taught in Kishinev. As the Eternal Jew, having carried out his messenger duties, stood on Dnepr’s shore, hanging low his unkempt green beard, a man came over to him, wearing the yellow-blue military stripes and green shoulder boards of the Petlura gang and asked severely,
“Jew?”
“Jew,” answered the old man.
“Come along then,” invited the man with the stripes, and brought him to the division leader.
“Captured a Jew,” he reported, pushing the old man forward with his knee.
“Jew?” Asked the commander with amused surprise.
“Jew,” answered the wanderer.
“Alright, put him up against the wall,” gently said the commander.
“But, I’m eternal!” yelled out the old man. For two thousand years he had impatiently awaited death, and suddenly he very much wanted to live.
“Shut it, Jew mug!” joyously yelled the big lipped commander. “Chop’im down lads!”
And the Eternal old man was no more.

 


Thankfully, Ostap Bender was mistaken.
The Wandering Jew in Brooklyn a comic book by Andrew E. Harrison and Norman J. Finkelshteyn (art by Norman J. Finkelshteyn)