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Memories of Laughter & Garlic
Jewish Wit, Wisdom, and Humor to Warm Your Heart

by Leo Lieberman ©1999, Paperback, ISBN: 978-0-9674074-0-1, 238 pp
 

Like a little chicken soup, these sixty seven award-winning contemporary and nostalgic Yiddish-flavored short stories of Jewish wit, wisdom and humor ... from growing up in the Bronx "shtetl" to grandparenting in today's world ... will warm your heart.

By award-winning newspaper feature columnist Leo Lieberman, topics include "Life’s Little Lessons;" "All in the Family;" "Growing Up Jewish;" "Old Times in the Old Neighborhood;" "Celebrating Jewish Style;" School – More Than Just An Education;" and "Nu? So What Else Is New?"

A special added feature of the book is Leo’s "Glossary for the Yiddishly Challenged." "Every Yiddish word and expression throughout the book is translated," notes Lieberman, "because some things are just better expressed in Yiddish!"

"...you’ll get an aggravated case of nostalgia...and get a chuckle in every paragraph. Read and laugh." — The Jewish Community (Louisville, KY)

Life's Little Lessons
2) All in the Family
3) Growing Up Jewish
4) Old Times in the Old Jewish Neighborhood
5) Celebrating Jewish Style
6) School – More Than an Education
7) Nu? So, What Else Is New?
8) Glossary for the "Yiddishly Challenged"

• Ari — A 7-year-old Grapples With the Holocaust.
"Why didn't someone stop them?"

• Defending Against Those Jewish Calories — Mama's 5 Tips
"Eat only when standing up."

• A Girl Is Not A Woman and A Tushie Is Not A...
"The children today...they don't know how to speak correctly."

• Jose Rubio Is Dead
"I'm not afraid of commas anymore."

• Bubbie — Tzedakah, Discipline, and Arms Designed for Hugs.
In halting English she said, "You come!"

• The Academy 'Reward' for Making New Friends
"The children need a father...not an old Jewish Bubbie."

• Papa's Battle — Checker Tournament vs. The Job
"This was only a game. A job was a job."

• Making a Choice: Complain & Whine or Be Funny & Clever
"Maybe good things come in small packages, but so does poison So watch out."

• Wishing for More Display of Love
"I never heard them speak to each other of love."

• Prizes, Charity, and A Trip To Church
And the second prize was ... a ham!

• Grandkids & Havdallah Services
"So go. It's a mitzvah. Never refuse a child."

• Signs, Righteous Gentiles, and Chocolate
"I had warned her about good manners and proper decorum because this was a very important person."

• Papa & Picket Duty
"It wouldn't be half bad if we could pick our signs."

• A Visit To Mama Must Entail Food
"It would be un-Jewish and inappropriate...to say the least."

• Growing Things ... Like Plants & Children
"You've got to speak to them."

• The "Emes" — The Truth vs. Superstition
"Now that you gotta do, or otherwise you're liable to get a k'nine a hara."

• Dressing For An Affair
"You call that a dress? Pheh, pheh."

• Mama's Sugar Bowl Philosophy
"Let Mrs. Rockefeller worry about where to buy a fur coat."

• The Importance of Breakfast
"Cholesterol? Not in our vocabulary..."

• A Grandchild's Audition for "Stardom"
"It might not be my acting ability that caught her attention."

• Mama Never Got A Diploma
"But there was a salary."

• Uncle Max — Who Is A Jew?
"The message didn't come from Mt. Sinai, but from Memphis."

• "Schmeerers" vs. Painters
"Today you don't find real workers any more."

• A Bris & A Nosh
"The first time they have wine, they associate it with...you know."

• What's In A Name?
"He was dubbed "The Lokesh" because of his resemblance to a long noodle."

• Doggie Bags, Mitzvahs, & Free Samples
"But if it's all the same to you, we prefer to pick our own."

• The Bar Mitzvah Speech Bribe
"And after services, I'll bring my chopped liver, made from my mother's secret recipe..."

• Keeping Kosher At Someone Else's Home
"Sometimes it's more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in."

• And "The Kid" Makes A Minyan
"Kid! That's what he called me!"

• Tanta Pesha and 'Looking Good on Shabbos'
"Where should I be going? To a dance hall you think?"

• Yiddish Theater and 'The Truth'
"The rules of the theater were all forgotten."

• Leaving the Old Neighborhood
"But that's life. Nothing stays the same."

• The Candy Store – From Treats to Chatschkas
"Every shelf was laden with treasures..."

• The Automat
"Such elegance! Such a special event!"

• The Barbershop
"This was part of being allowed into a man's world."

• The Dumb Waiter
"And from this means of garbage disposal, we learned so much more."

• Stayin' Cool In Summer
"Kids could get into bathing suits and dash under the cold water, screeching and yelling..."

• Getting A Library Card
"All this was now mine because I could sign my name."

• Moving
"And then last, but not least, there was the matter of concession. This required a bit of careful bargaining."

• Giving and Getting an Honor
"If you run from honors, honors will run after you."

• The High Holidays
"Those of us without tickets ... had to use our ingenuity to enter the shul."

• Making a New Year's Resolution
"I'll promise not to talk."

• Mama Loved Succos
"Oy, such a sweet taste ... I can become a regular Shikkur."

• Chanukah and The Great Latke Debate
"So she served latkes with apple sauce and he thought the tradition argued for sour cream..."

• The Great Purim Debate
"Which is the most important Jewish delicacy – the latke or hamantaschen?"

• Passover – No Longer the Lenten Season of Deprivation
"There's even bagel mixes and pancake mixes and pizza!"

• Wedding Plans
"A wedding without chopped liver is one thing, but no soup or kugel – this is unheard of."

• Birthdays Are Special
"Now as far as Mama was concerned, she never wanted anyone to make a big fuss over her 'day.'"

• Third grade — Eraser Monitor and Crushed Feelings
"I was afraid to look at Miss Goldman to see if she was laughing."

• Test Day and Demons
"And then it happened. Lulu gagged and threw up."

• Learning How To Save Money
"I came to school on Monday to put a dime in the bank envelope and when I looked into my pocket – no dime."

• Not Being Chosen "I laughed and told Little Billy that we had a special position – 'left out.'"

• Assembly Day
"And we recited, 'I pledge allegiance...and to the country of witches stands...'"

• A School Wish About 'Hitler The Meshuganeh'
"Miss Dugan told the Principal, "They're all alike."

• Mama and the Topic of Condoms
"I could speak easily about the facts of life to my college students...but to my mother?"

• The Sweet Smell of Success and Ripe Cantaloupes
"I know you. You're the one who writes. And the last one was not bad."

• So, Language Changes
"In those days, all chocolates were Hersheys."

The Importance Of Asking Questions
"When I asked why every conversation seemed to be concluded with a question, she said, 'So what's wrong with that?'"

• Knowing Good Advice From Bad
"Whenever I'm told something is for my own good, I get nervous..."

• New Math, New Stockings, and New Batteries
"But if one pair is $3.25, why is three pair $10?"

• A Moment of Silence...The Pause That Refreshes
"I expected to get the response that this was the time for creative reflection."

• Yes, Age Is Only a Number
"There, looking back at me in the mirror was an elderly – quite elderly – man."

• Politics, Religion, and Ruggelach.
"My mouth still waters from the memory."

• Righteous Gentiles
"This is the way she is paying her back by doing good deeds, real mitzvahs, in her Mama's name."

• Even the President Forgets Once in A While.
"My son tells me that if I didn't have my head attached..."

• Those Great Radio Programs We Used To Listen To
"Today we have television and videos and computers... does this stifle imagination?"

• My, How Libraries Have Changed!
"One little seven-year-old smiles at me and asks if I need help. He'll show me how to use the computer."

Glossary of Conversational Yiddish
"For the "Yiddishly Challenged"

(With a bissel* Hebrew thrown in).

*a little bit

[ a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | w | x | y | z ]

abee gezunt — as long as you’re healthy, as in the expression, "What else matters, abee gezunt." p. 147

afikoman — the piece of matzoh that is hidden away to be eaten at the conclusion of the Passover seder. Actually the word is Greek (fooled you, you thought this was all Yiddish!) and means dessert. p. 164

a leben af em — long life to him; or more simply "God bless him!" Take your pick. p. 45, 141

alta — older or senior. It actually became a name for some people, just as we call someone "Junior." p. 91

aroyss vaffen der gelt — a waste of money (literally, you’re throwing out your money on such an enterprise!) p. 156

ay-yi-yi — now this expression has several meanings. For example in, "She’s not so ay-yi-yi, it simply means "so special." But in "Ay-yi-yi, do I have a problem!" it means, "Oh my goodness!" p. 90

ayn klaynikite — a bit of nothing; or "come on now"; an expression of disbelief or wonder. p. 210

ayn und ayntsigeh — "the one and only." Every Jewish child is ayn und ayntsigeh, even if he or she has four brothers and six sisters. p. 76

a yom tov a freilach — a joyous holiday, the opening line to a Yiddish song that was sung at Chanukah time. p. 154

az mir schmeart fohrt mir — the squeaky wheel gets the grease. (Sometimes it suggests that a little bribe won’t hurt!) p. 71

a zissin Pesach — a sweet and happy Passover holiday. p. 164

ballabusta — a woman who is an excellent homemaker. In Proverbs we read of the "woman of valor." Now she was a ballabusta! p. 106, 123

bendel — a little band or a ribbon. A red bendel would protect one from the "evil eye." p. 64

bimah — the platform or podium in the synagogue. p. 77, 210

boichik — simply a "boy," but usually said affectionately, no matter what your age. p. 83

boychikel — now this was a "little" boy. The "el" ending is usually the sign of the diminutive. p. 88

bris — circumcision. You want to know more, see me after class. According to Jewish law a bris takes place eight days after birth and a drop of wine is placed on the baby’s tongue. (No wonder Jewish men don’t become alcoholics! Think of the association!) p. 87, 90

bubbie — grandma. Such a lovely word! p. 32, 75, 76, 146

chaleryas — pestilence or cholera. But when a woman is called a chalerya she is a vixen, a termagant, a shrew, a "chalerya!" p. 69, 109

chanukiah — the eight branched candlestick used during the festival of Chanukah. p. 153

chatschka — a bauble; a trinket; a nik-nak. (Mama called them nok-niks.) p. 39, 119, 121

chometz — bread; and by extension, all foods prohibited during Passover. p. 163

dayenu — enough! The popular refrain of a song that is sung during the Passover celebration. p. 164

der tochter fun shylock — Shylock’s daughter; the Yiddish rendition of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. p. 109

der emes — the truth; or the equivalent of "I swear to God!" p. 110

der gantze velt iz a tay-ater — the whole world is a theater! Or as the bard said, "All the world’s a stage!" And he wasn’t even Jewish! p. 109

der koenig lear — King Lear, as in the Shakespearean tragedy by the same name. p. 69

dos iz der emes — it’s the truth! p. 109

dreidel — the little spinning top played with on Chanukah, with four letters informing us that "A great miracle happened there!" p. 109

emes — you already learned this. See der emes. p. 64

far vuss nit — so why not? p. 98

finster vee drerd — as dark as H--l! (This may be a family book, so I am being careful.) p. 138

freilach — happy; joyous; Another nice word. p. 154

funferrer — actually, this originally had the connotation of someone who nasalized his speech and talked through his nose. Then it took on the meaning of a "deceiver" or a "goof-off" or even a "double-talker." p. 91

fun gornisht kumt gornisht — a line from King Lear, only in Yiddish. "Nothing comes from nothing!" p. 69

gefilte fish — Jewish "soul food." Oh come on now, surely you must have eaten this "delicacy." Now-a-days you can buy it in any supermarket, but when I was a boy... p. 163, 209

gelt — money. p. 154

genuge shoyn — enough already. p. 12

geshtorben — Dead, as in "dead." p. 61

geshrai — a loud outcry; a scream; a yell. p. 24, 161, 166

gevalt — now this was a geshrai and means something more than "goodness gracious." p. 161

glezzele — a little glass. Did you spot the diminutive ending here? Good for you! p. 85

glitzeeyanas — Jews from Galicia, a province of Poland or Austria. They were often at odds with the Litvaks, Jews from Lithuania. p. 148, 154

gonnif — a thief! Sometimes it is used affectionately when a child is called a gonnif, but don’t bet on it. p. 191

gornisht — nothing. p. 69

greener couziner — the green horn, someone newly arrived in America and not yet a "Yankee." p. 165

grivenes — when chicken fat was rendered with some onions and a dash of garlic (What else?) this was produced, a high cholesterol, multi-caloric spread. Try it on rye bread, if you dare. p. 73

groggers — noisemakers, not the people kind but the little toys that kids use to make sounds. On Purim time you used your grogger every time that the villian Haman’s name was mentioned. Booooooo! p. 162

grub yung — a boorish individual; a coarse or uncouth fellow. Pheh! p. 138

gutteh neshomeh — a good soul. This is a high compliment. p. 142

haimish — a down-to-earth person, one who doesn’t put on airs; literally a "homebody." p. 150

hamantaschen — a delicacy! A three cornered cookie filled with prune butter (lekvah) or jam or raisins and .... enough already. It was thought to resemble the hat that the no-goodnik Haman wore. In Israel it’s called oznai haman, or Haman’s ears. Take your pick. But both are yummy. p. 162

ha-tikvah — literally "the hope." This is the title of the Israeli National Anthem. p. 153

havdallah — the ceremony that takes place on Saturday evening at sunset to signal the departure of the Sabbath and the beginning of the regular work-week. p. 48

kaddish — literally "sanctification," but usually thought of as the prayer recited by those in mourning. p. 182

katz-kopf — literally a "cat in one’s head," but it usually means a forgetful person. p. 214

keppie — a diminutive for "head" so we might say "a blessing on your keppie (head)." p. 48

kiddush — the blessing over the wine. p 106, 107, 148

kinder — children; the plural of kind. p. 111

k‘nine a hara — An imprecation to keep away the evil eye. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to get a k’nine a hara! p. 63, 64

knish — now this is a delicacy that you should try. It’s a pastry dough filled with potato, or meat, or kasha, or whatever. p. 167

kristallnacht — the "Night of the Broken Glass," that infamous day in Nazi Germany in November 1938 when synagogues were broken into and Jewish store fronts were shattered and vandalized. p. 111

krychick — the end of a loaf of bread; that crusty corner. Mmmmnnnnn. p. 89

kugel — a pudding. Sometimes there’s a potato kugel and sometimes a noodle (or lokshen) kugel, but who cares? They’re both delicious. p. 33, 166, 192

kvetching — complaining or whining. Many a husband has told his wife (and vice-versa), "Stop your kvetching!" p. 140, 185

lamed vovnik — tradition has it that the world exists because of 36 righteous individuals and each is called a "lamed vovnik." Lamed-vov are the two Hebrew letters that add up to thirty-six. p. 43

langer — tall or long. p. 91

lashon rah — or better yet, loshon hara. Literally a "bad tongue"; slander or gossip. To be avoided like the plague. So take care. p. 149

latkes — pancakes made with oil and grated potatoes. Ask and I’ll send you a recipe. Usually eaten at Chanukah time, but who cares when? p. 192

litvak — a Jew from Lithuania. See the word glitzeeana. p. 148, 154

loksh — a noodle; a tall skinny guy! p. 91

l’shana tova tikatayvu — may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year; the traditional greeting on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. p. 146

macher — a person of influence; or at least someone who thinks he or she is such a person; a big shot. And if you want to make this the superlative say, a gantzeh macher. p. 12

ma-oz tzur — Rock of Ages. A traditional song sung on Chanukah. p. 154

malach hamaves — the angel of death. So beware! p. 182

mamzer ben ha-niddah — Oy, is this an expression! Don’t use it lightly. It means a "bastard that was conceived during the time the mother had her period." I warned you in advance to be careful! p. 210

mann tracht und gott lacht — "man plans and God laughs" or "man proposes and God disposes." p. 35

matanah — a gift. p. 150

maxele — diminutive for Max as in Maxie. p. 81

mazel tov — surely you know this. "good luck!" or "congratulations!" p. 169, 201

mazel — luck. p. 147

me y’malel — a popular Chanukah song; "Who can retell" p. 154

mechaya — a pleasure; a delight! p. 212

meese — ugly, plain in appearance. p. 91

meese n’shumeh — an ill-favored person; not a nice person. The opposite is a gutteh neshomeh. p. 137

mensch — a real good person; a fine human being. In short, a mensch. p. 207

menshlichhkeit — the practice of all the virtues befitting a person. p. 99

meshuga — crazy; stupid! p. 112

meshugenas — zanies; silly or crazy people. p. 63

meshugeneh — This is the singular. One is enough! p. 111, 113, 205

metziah — a find! a treasure! p. 207

minyan — a religious quorum. It takes ten men to make a minyan in traditional Judaism. p. 103

mishpacha — family. But when you say "the whole mishpacha," you mean EVERYONE, related or not! p. 163, 207

mit schlag — with cream, usually whipped cream or as Mama called it "whip-cream." Not for the calorie-conscious...even in Yiddish or Viennese.. p. 20

mit-vokch — the middle of the week. I suppose that that’s Wednesday. p. 76

mitzvah — a good deed; literally a "commandment" since God commands us to perform good deeds. p. 68, 95, 120, 142, 193, 210

mogen david — the six pointed Star of David. p. 151

mohel — a person who performs circumcisions. How’s that for a profession?! p. 88

narashkeit — nonsense. p. 161

nebbish — a wimp; a bit lower than a schlemiel; could also be used as an interjection conveying the idea of "alas!" p. 182

nisht by unz gedacht — God forbid! p. 106

noch — yet; even; (surprisingly). p. 11

nosh — a snack, a bit of food taken between meals. "Have a nosh before dinner!" p. 58

nu? — Next to oy, the most frequently used expression. It means, So…? p. 93, 206

ois-ge-pitzt — all dressed up, probably in a fancy over-dressed outfit. p. 87

oneg — Actually it means "joy" but has come to be associated with the refreshment taken after a religious service. p. 61, 82

or-mayn — the Yiddish equivalent of Amen. p. 147

oy — now here is the most frequently used expression. Just heave a sigh and say, "Oy!" Much better than the pallid "Oh!" Just ask any Jewish mother. p. 23, 25, 67, 84, 117, 122, 124, 144, 166, 207

oy vay — double OY! p. 88, 163, 193

oy chanukah, oy chanukah, a yom tov a freilach — a yiddish song. The translation is "Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, a happy holiday!" But in Yiddish it’s so much better! p. 154

oyz — plural of oy. If one oy is good then two is… p. 163

pekel — a little package (There’s that diminutive again!); a little bit of something. p. 71

pheh — Pheh is pheh! Like pu-pu-pu, only pheh; a sound of disgust. p. 67, 74, 84, 94, 103, 148, 188

pisk — a not so nice expression for the "mouth" (cf. French "guele") p. 165

ponim — face. p. 48

pu, pu, pu — the sound of spitting out. See the notation under pheh. p. 64, 113

pupik — The belly-button or navel (are you an in-zy or an out-zy?) p. 88

qvell — to experience a sense of inner (and even outer) pride, usually in one’s children. What else? A synonymn, sort of, for to tschepp nachos p. 12

rebbitzen — the Rabbi’s wife. p. 98, 159, 192, 205

ruggelach — a delicious cookie rolled up and stuffed with raisins and nuts. You must taste one to appreciate it. So have a nosh. p. 118, 206

schlumpy — ill kempt; sloppy, slovenly. p. 107

shandeh — a shame! p. 26, 109

shayne — pretty p. 56

shikkur — a drunk; intoxicated. p. 88, 151

shivah — literally, Hebrew for "seven." This usually conveys the idea of the seven days of mourning following the death of an immediate member of the family. p. 65, 152

shlep — to drag along, to pull. A person who is a shlep is a jerk, a wimp, an unkempt drip. p. 109

shlepping — see shlep and you have the idea. p. 40, 68, 141

shlumpy/shlumper — slovenly; ill-kempt. p.43, 107

shmateh — a rag; something your ex-husband’s new girlfriend wears. p. 67

shmeared — spread; Also used to indicate a bribe. p. 66

shmearar — one who paints, but not too carefully. p. 84, 85, 86

shmooze — idle talk; chit-chat p. 141

shmutz — dirt. p. 148

sholem — a favorite word, from the Hebrew meaning "peace." What could be better? p. 160

shtetl — a small community of Jews, usually reminiscent of the small towns in Poland before the Holocaust. p. 110, 112

shtick nachas — a special bit of joy. Every child is a shtick nachas to his grandparents. You don’t believe this? Ask my wife! p. 48

shul — a synagogue. p. 48, 82, 94, 103, 144, 151

simcha — a joyous or happy occasion, a celebration. p. 151

sufganiot — jelly donuts. Just go to Israel at Chanukah time and you will eat plenty! p. 152, 153

taiglach — a confection made with honey and raisins and nuts and then more honey. Usually eaten on the Jewish New Year. p. 150

takkeh — really; "you’re not kidding me." p. 160

tallis — a prayer shawl. p. 88

tallisim — plural of tallis. p.146

tanta — aunt. p. 80, 89

tattele — a boy-child is a tattele, a little daddy and a girl is a mammele. But both are chips off the old block, but Jewish ones! p. 56

trayfe — not kosher; forbidden. p. 57, 91, 138, 192

tsorris — troubles, worries; concerns. We all have them, so learn the word! p. 110

tsorris bi-leiten — other people’s problems. This was the theme of a popular radio (you remember radio?) program. p. 216

tushie — a rather endearing term for that part of the anatomy on which we sit, probably a corruption of tuchis, which was a bit off-color. You could pinch (or even kiss) a child’s tushie, but you gave him or her a potch (slap) in tuchis! p. 21, 25, 26

tza-budjet — discombobulated; mixed up; confused, but with a "capital C." p. 212

tzedaka — charity p. 20

vay iz mir — "woe is me." But in Yiddish, of course it’s so much better! p. 64, 87, 108

yarhtzeit — the date marking the yearly anniversary of someone’s passing. There are candles in glasses that are usually used as a memorial. p. 82


yarmulkes — the skull caps worn by men in a synagogue p. 48, 100

yenta tallabenta — a gossip; a chatter-box (I know this is sexist, but it refers only to women). p. 148

yeshiva — a Jewish day school for Orthodox boys. p. 100

Yiddishkeit - a sense of things Jewish. After yiou read this book you will have a real sense of Yiddishkeit. p. 11

yom tov — a holiday. p. 87, 150, 151

zaydies — plural of zaydie, a Grandpa! p. 63, 75, 76, 146

zoll gornisht helfen — nothing can help. It’s a fait accompli! How’s that for mixing languages? p. 72

zibitel — from the word meaning "seven" Usually, when there is a premature birth or one that comes "too soon" after the official marriage, the baby is called a zibitel. Aha! p. 90, 92

zissen — sweet. p. 164

"...you'll get an aggravated case of nostalgia...and get a chuckle in every paragraph. Read and laugh."
The Jewish Community (Louisville, KY)

"...unabashedly nostalgic...mines a vein of of long-gone Yiddishkeit, offering a message with Jewish spice."
Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia)

"His pieces are...effective and worthwhile. Oy, so worthwhile!"
Denver Jewish News

"Literary nosh serves up Bronx nostalgia."
Arizona Jewish Post

"...sure to bring smiles to readers" faces."
Atlantic City Press (NJ)

"These warmhearted reflections are wise and silly at the same time..."
JUF News (Chicago)

"Straight from his heart - each a gem. This precious, meaningful book is worth its weight in gold."
The Current (South Jersey)

"Leo Lieberman remembers the 'good old days.'"
Detroit Jewish News

"His anecdotal memories resonate with Yiddishkeit, wisdom, and just plain humor."
The Jewish Community Voice (New Jersey)

"Warms the heart."
Jewish Times of South Jersey

"This collection is essential."
Jack Engelhard, author, "Indecent Proposal"

 


The Jewish News (Denver)

It's a pity that few Western readers ever glimpse a copy of the Jewish Times of South Jersey simply because this deprives them of Leo a Lieberman's Rockower award winning column "Chalkdust."

Lieberman, a Holocaust studies professor, has been penning the column for a number of years and Memories of Laughter and Garlic is a collection of the best of them.

The authors should shtick in whom is pure Yiddishkeit, and he manages his style very deftly, often calling upon his own memories in the Yiddish flavored New York of the 1930's and 40's, and just as often regarding a modern issues and topics through his unique lends. While his topics ranged across the board, Lieberman's Yiddish Center is consistent and distinctive.

Any Yiddish based writer, of course, is going to rely on humor for a good part of his or her of fact, and Lieberman is no exception. He understands the ironic patois of good in Yiddish humor and seldom misses an opportunity to wield it. Even the name he attaches to some of his ongoing characters-lily with the nails, Ruby with the hair, poor Molly, etc.-reflect this perspective.

But Lieberman's range is greater than humor. He is even more powerful when he strives for pathos or poignancy. He has mastered the skill that novelists and journalists strive for-and often fail to achieve-which is to convey genuine emotion through the written word. His sketches on Holocaust themes are worth the price of the whole book.

His pieces are short, most of them going on for no more than two or three pages, but they are effective and worthwhile.
Oy, so worthwhile!

Simply put, reading Leo Liebermen is like going back home to Bubbe – revisiting a world of long-lost Yiddishkeit when all was warm and cozy and the shtetle still alive even here in America.

But you don't necessarily have to be Jewish to love "Memories of Laughter and Garlic." If you appreciate good writing, wit and wisdom – sprinkled with Yiddishisms reminiscent of Sholom Aleichem – this book is for you.

Lieberman consistently manages to keep things fresh — indeed, as if he'd gone back to Bubbe for more material.

But of course, it's Lieberman's world, a world some of us still remember with great fondness – and in case we forget – that's where Lieberman comes in, to bring it all back. If not for our Leo Liebermans, a significant portion of our cherished past would no longer even be a memory. For that reason, this collection is essential.

Lieberman's style is so deceptively simple that many readers probably don't know that this man is a professor – an intellectual, noch!

That, of course, is precisely Lieberman's gift – away with pretense and ostentation!

Some say that Yiddish, as a language, is dying out. Maybe yes, maybe no. But without question Yiddish inflections have enriched the English language. So if you need a translation of any Yiddish expression in this book, just flip to the back and check out Lieberman's "Glossary for the Yiddishly Challenged."

Anyway, the phrasing that turns English into Yiddish (or is it Yiddish into English?) comes up frequently in this work, as Lieberman has Mama say: "If your Papa had to chose between me and his checkers – better not ask!"

If forced to use one word to define this entire work, I'd go with "charm." I would not dare say that Lieberman's essays are vital in preserving Jewish heritage – are you kidding?

Tante Pesha would only laugh and say, "Such a big deal from my Leo? Ay yi yi!"

Jack Engelhard, Author
Indecent Proposal

Leo Lieberman is currently Associate Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He studied at the City University of New York, New York University, Columbia College, Cornell University and the Jewish Institute of Religion - Hebrew Union College and received his doctorate from Fordham University where he specialized in Anglo-Saxon and Classical Hebrew Literature.

Leo’s roots are actually in the Bronx where grew up and attended public schools. After graduating from Taft High School and attending CUNY and Fordham, Leo taught at Theodore Roosevelt High School and went on to become Principal of a mid-Bronx Intermediate School. He joined the faculty of Bronx Community College and became Professor of English while also heading the school’s Jewish studies program. Leo later taught in various branches of the City University and became Resident Professor and then Professor Emeritus.

His latest book, Memories of Laughter and Garlic, recalls many memories of growing up as a Jewish kid in New York and is filled with heart-warming stories based on family life and teaching experiences.

Leo has written extensively and his books include Dictionary of Correct English Usage, Classics of Jewish Literature, and Essential English for the College-Bound. He has also published numerous poems, essays,and scholarly papers, has lectured before many Jewish and civic groups in the New York and New Jersey area, and has been invited to speak before an international group of scholars and educators in Israel.

Having emigrated from the Bronx, Leo currently resides in Margate, New Jersey and proudly affirms that he has three children, eight grandchildren and one wife.

Memories of Laughter & Garlic

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