A few years ago, Joseph was finally given an exit
permit by the Russians and allowed to emigrate
to Israel to join his family. He was told that he could
only take what he could pack into one suitcase. At
Moscow airport he was stopped by an enormous
Customs officer who glared at him and snarled
"Open the case!"
Joseph opened the case and the Russian rummaged
through the meagre belongings and pulled out a large
bundle wrapped in old copies of Pravda. He unwrapped
it to reveal a bust of Stalin. "What is that?" snarled the
"What is that?" said Joseph timidly. "You shouldn't ask
'What is that?' - you should ask 'Who is that?' That is
our glorious leader Stalin. I'm taking it to my new home
to remind me of all the wonderful things that he did and
the marvellous life that I am leaving behind."
"I always knew that you Jews were mad!" said the official,
tossing the bust into the case. "Go!"
A few hours later Joseph arrived at Ben Gurion airport
and was confronted by an Israeli customs officer.
"Shalom, Welcome to Israel. Open the case!"
Once again Joseph's belongings were examined and
the customs officer came upon the bust. "What is that?"
said the customs officer.
"What is that?" said Joseph indignantly. "You shouldn't
ask 'What is that?' - you should ask 'Who is that?' That
is that demon, Stalin. I'm taking it to my new home to
remind me of all the misery and suffering that he caused
me for most of my life. I want to spit on it every day for
the rest of my life."
"I always knew that you Russians were mad!" said the
official, tossing the bust into the case. "Go!"
At last Joseph arrived in his new home and eventually got
round to unpacking watched by his young nephew. He took
out his few clothes and then carefully unwrapped the bust
of Stalin and put it on the table.
"Who is that?" asked his nephew.
"Who is that?" said Joseph with a smile. "You shouldn't
ask 'Who is that?' - you should ask 'What is that?' That
is five kilos of gold and a bit of black shoe polish."