Nathan Ausubel

American historian, folklorist and humorist

Nathan Ausubel (June 15, 1898 – November, 1986) was an American historian, folklorist and humorist. He specialized in Jewish culture.


  • First you laugh at a Jewish joke or quip. Then, against your will, you suddenly fall silent and thoughtful. And that is because Jews are so frequently jesting philosophers. A hard life has made them realists, realists without illusion.
    • A Treasury of Jewish Humor (1951)
  • Of all the astonishing experiences of the widely dispersed Jewish people none was more extraordinary than that concerning the Khazars.
    • Pictorial History of the Jewish People (1953)

A Treasury Of Jewish Folklore (1948)

  • Jews have received their tempering from an unflinching realism learned for a high fee in the school of life; they have always felt the need of fortifying their spirits with the armor of laughter against the barbs of the world.
  • Folklore is a true and unguarded portrait, for where art may be selective, may conceal, may gloss over defects and even prettify, folk art is always revealing, always truthful in the sense that it is spontaneous expression.

The Book of Jewish Knowledge (1964)

  • One of the profoundest religious changes effected by the synagogue almost immediately upon its establishment twenty-five centuries ago was to bring communion with God directly and easily to the the individual worshiper.
    • p. 433
  • Zionism is as old as the Babylonian Exile, which began in 586BCE. Separation from the Land of Israel as they were being led into captivity by their conquerors rested crushingly upon the spirits of the Jewish exiles; a longing for the homeland consumed them. Turning in the direction of Judah, they then took an awesome vow: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy" (Psalms 137:5-6).
    • p. 526
Wikipedia has an article about: