â€¢ Defending Against Those Jewish Calories â€” Mama's 5 Tips
"Eat only when standing up."
â€¢ A Girl Is Not A Woman and A Tushie Is Not A...
"The children today...they don't know how to speak correctly."
â€¢ Jose Rubio Is Dead
"I'm not afraid of commas anymore."
â€¢ Bubbie â€” Tzedakah, Discipline, and Arms Designed for Hugs.
In halting English she said, "You come!"
â€¢ The Academy 'Reward' for Making New Friends
"The children need a father...not an old Jewish Bubbie."
â€¢ Papa's Battle â€” Checker Tournament vs. The Job
"This was only a game. A job was a job."
â€¢ Making a Choice: Complain & Whine or Be Funny & Clever
"Maybe good things come in small packages, but so does poison So watch out."
â€¢ Wishing for More Display of Love
"I never heard them speak to each other of love."
â€¢ Prizes, Charity, and A Trip To Church
And the second prize was ... a ham!
â€¢ Grandkids & Havdallah Services
"So go. It's a mitzvah. Never refuse a child."
â€¢ Signs, Righteous Gentiles, and Chocolate
"I had warned her about good manners and proper decorum because this was a very important person."
â€¢ Papa & Picket Duty
"It wouldn't be half bad if we could pick our signs."
â€¢ A Visit To Mama Must Entail Food
"It would be un-Jewish and inappropriate...to say the least."
â€¢ Growing Things ... Like Plants & Children
"You've got to speak to them."
â€¢ The "Emes" â€” The Truth vs. Superstition
"Now that you gotta do, or otherwise you're liable to get a k'nine a hara."
â€¢ Dressing For An Affair
"You call that a dress? Pheh, pheh."
â€¢ Mama's Sugar Bowl Philosophy
"Let Mrs. Rockefeller worry about where to buy a fur coat."
â€¢ The Importance of Breakfast
"Cholesterol? Not in our vocabulary..."
â€¢ A Grandchild's Audition for "Stardom"
"It might not be my acting ability that caught her attention."
â€¢ Mama Never Got A Diploma
"But there was a salary."
â€¢ Uncle Max â€” Who Is A Jew?
"The message didn't come from Mt. Sinai, but from Memphis."
â€¢ "Schmeerers" vs. Painters
"Today you don't find real workers any more."
â€¢ A Bris & A Nosh
"The first time they have wine, they associate it with...you know."
â€¢ What's In A Name?
"He was dubbed "The Lokesh" because of his resemblance to a long noodle."
â€¢ Doggie Bags, Mitzvahs, & Free Samples
"But if it's all the same to you, we prefer to pick our own."
â€¢ The Bar Mitzvah Speech Bribe
"And after services, I'll bring my chopped liver, made from my mother's secret recipe..."
â€¢ Keeping Kosher At Someone Else's Home
"Sometimes it's more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in."
â€¢ And "The Kid" Makes A Minyan
"Kid! That's what he called me!"
â€¢ Tanta Pesha and 'Looking Good on Shabbos'
"Where should I be going? To a dance hall you think?"
â€¢ Yiddish Theater and 'The Truth'
"The rules of the theater were all forgotten."
â€¢ Leaving the Old Neighborhood
"But that's life. Nothing stays the same."
â€¢ The Candy Store â€“ From Treats to Chatschkas
"Every shelf was laden with treasures..."
â€¢ The Automat
"Such elegance! Such a special event!"
â€¢ The Barbershop
"This was part of being allowed into a man's world."
â€¢ The Dumb Waiter
"And from this means of garbage disposal, we learned so much more."
â€¢ Stayin' Cool In Summer
"Kids could get into bathing suits and dash under the cold water, screeching and yelling..."
â€¢ Getting A Library Card
"All this was now mine because I could sign my name."
"And then last, but not least, there was the matter of concession. This required a bit of careful bargaining."
â€¢ Giving and Getting an Honor
"If you run from honors, honors will run after you."
â€¢ The High Holidays
"Those of us without tickets ... had to use our ingenuity to enter the shul."
â€¢ Making a New Year's Resolution
"I'll promise not to talk."
â€¢ Mama Loved Succos
"Oy, such a sweet taste ... I can become a regular Shikkur."
â€¢ Chanukah and The Great Latke Debate
"So she served latkes with apple sauce and he thought the tradition argued for sour cream..."
â€¢ The Great Purim Debate
"Which is the most important Jewish delicacy â€“ the latke or hamantaschen?"
â€¢ Passover â€“ No Longer the Lenten Season of Deprivation
"There's even bagel mixes and pancake mixes and pizza!"
â€¢ Wedding Plans
"A wedding without chopped liver is one thing, but no soup or kugel â€“ this is unheard of."
â€¢ Birthdays Are Special
"Now as far as Mama was concerned, she never wanted anyone to make a big fuss over her 'day.'"
â€¢ Third grade â€” Eraser Monitor and Crushed Feelings
"I was afraid to look at Miss Goldman to see if she was laughing."
â€¢ Test Day and Demons
"And then it happened. Lulu gagged and threw up."
â€¢ 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 â€“ no dime."
â€¢ Not Being Chosen
"I laughed and told Little Billy that we had a special position â€“ 'left out.'"
â€¢ Assembly Day
"And we recited, 'I pledge allegiance...and to the country of witches stands...'"
â€¢ A School Wish About 'Hitler The Meshuganeh'
"Miss Dugan told the Principal, "They're all alike."
â€¢ Mama and the Topic of Condoms
"I could speak easily about the facts of life to my college students...but to my mother?"
â€¢ The Sweet Smell of Success and Ripe Cantaloupes
"I know you. You're the one who writes. And the last one was not bad."
â€¢ So, Language Changes
The Importance Of Asking Questions
"In those days, all chocolates were Hersheys."
"When I asked why every conversation seemed to be concluded with a question, she said, 'So what's wrong with that?'"
â€¢ Knowing Good Advice From Bad
"Whenever I'm told something is for my own good, I get nervous..."
â€¢ New Math, New Stockings, and New Batteries
"But if one pair is $3.25, why is three pair $10?"
â€¢ A Moment of Silence...The Pause That Refreshes
"I expected to get the response that this was the time for creative reflection."
â€¢ Yes, Age Is Only a Number
"There, looking back at me in the mirror was an elderly â€“ quite elderly â€“ man."
â€¢ Politics, Religion, and Ruggelach.
"My mouth still waters from the memory."
â€¢ Righteous Gentiles
"This is the way she is paying her back by doing good deeds, real mitzvahs, in her Mama's name."
â€¢ Even the President Forgets Once in A While.
"My son tells me that if I didn't have my head attached..."
â€¢ Those Great Radio Programs We Used To Listen To
"Today we have television and videos and computers... does this stifle imagination?"
â€¢ 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 â€” as long as youâ€™re healthy, as in the expression, "What else matters, abee gezunt." p. 147
afikoman â€” 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 â€” long life to him; or more simply "God bless him!" Take your pick. p. 45, 141
alta â€” older or senior. It actually became a name for some people, just as we call someone "Junior." p. 91
aroyss vaffen der gelt â€” a waste of money (literally, youâ€™re throwing out your money on such an enterprise!) p. 156
ay-yi-yi â€” now this expression has several meanings. For example in, "Sheâ€™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 â€” a bit of nothing; or "come on now"; an expression of disbelief or wonder. p. 210
ayn und ayntsigeh â€” "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 â€” a joyous holiday, the opening line to a Yiddish song that was sung at Chanukah time. p. 154
az mir schmeart fohrt mir â€” the squeaky wheel gets the grease. (Sometimes it suggests that a little bribe wonâ€™t hurt!) p. 71
a zissin Pesach â€” a sweet and happy Passover holiday. p. 164
ballabusta â€” 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 â€” a little band or a ribbon. A red bendel would protect one from the "evil eye." p. 64
bimah â€” the platform or podium in the synagogue. p. 77, 210
boichik â€” simply a "boy," but usually said affectionately, no matter what your age. p. 83
boychikel â€” now this was a "little" boy. The "el" ending is usually the sign of the diminutive. p. 88
bris â€” 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 babyâ€™s tongue. (No wonder Jewish men donâ€™t become alcoholics! Think of the association!) p. 87, 90
bubbie â€” grandma. Such a lovely word! p. 32, 75, 76, 146
chaleryas â€” 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 â€” the eight branched candlestick used during the festival of Chanukah. p. 153
chatschka â€” a bauble; a trinket; a nik-nak. (Mama called them nok-niks.) p. 39, 119, 121
chometz â€” bread; and by extension, all foods prohibited during Passover. p. 163
dayenu â€” enough! The popular refrain of a song that is sung during the Passover celebration. p. 164
der tochter fun shylock â€” Shylockâ€™s daughter; the Yiddish rendition of Shakespeareâ€™s Merchant of Venice. p. 109
der emes â€” the truth; or the equivalent of "I swear to God!" p. 110
der gantze velt iz a tay-ater â€” the whole world is a theater! Or as the bard said, "All the worldâ€™s a stage!" And he wasnâ€™t even Jewish! p. 109
der koenig lear â€” King Lear, as in the Shakespearean tragedy by the same name. p. 69
dos iz der emes â€” itâ€™s the truth! p. 109
dreidel â€” the little spinning top played with on Chanukah, with four letters informing us that "A great miracle happened there!" p. 109
emes â€” you already learned this. See der emes. p. 64
far vuss nit â€” so why not? p. 98
finster vee drerd â€” as dark as H--l! (This may be a family book, so I am being careful.) p. 138
freilach â€” happy; joyous; Another nice word. p. 154
funferrer â€” 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 â€” a line from King Lear, only in Yiddish. "Nothing comes from nothing!" p. 69
gefilte fish â€” 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 â€” money. p. 154
genuge shoyn â€” enough already. p. 12
geshtorben â€” Dead, as in "dead." p. 61
geshrai â€” a loud outcry; a scream; a yell. p. 24, 161, 166
gevalt â€” now this was a geshrai and means something more than "goodness gracious." p. 161
glezzele â€” a little glass. Did you spot the diminutive ending here? Good for you! p. 85
glitzeeyanas â€” Jews from Galicia, a province of Poland or Austria. They were often at odds with the Litvaks, Jews from Lithuania. p. 148, 154
gonnif â€” a thief! Sometimes it is used affectionately when a child is called a gonnif, but donâ€™t bet on it. p. 191
gornisht â€” nothing. p. 69
greener couziner â€” the green horn, someone newly arrived in America and not yet a "Yankee." p. 165
grivenes â€” 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 â€” 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 Hamanâ€™s name was mentioned. Booooooo! p. 162
grub yung â€” a boorish individual; a coarse or uncouth fellow. Pheh! p. 138
gutteh neshomeh â€” a good soul. This is a high compliment. p. 142
haimish â€” a down-to-earth person, one who doesnâ€™t put on airs; literally a "homebody." p. 150
hamantaschen â€” 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 itâ€™s called oznai haman, or Hamanâ€™s ears. Take your pick. But both are yummy. p. 162
ha-tikvah â€” literally "the hope." This is the title of the Israeli National Anthem. p. 153
havdallah â€” 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 â€” literally "sanctification," but usually thought of as the prayer recited by those in mourning. p. 182
katz-kopf â€” literally a "cat in oneâ€™s head," but it usually means a forgetful person. p. 214
keppie â€” a diminutive for "head" so we might say "a blessing on your keppie (head)." p. 48
kiddush â€” the blessing over the wine. p 106, 107, 148
kinder â€” children; the plural of kind. p. 111
kâ€˜nine a hara â€” An imprecation to keep away the evil eye. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to get a kâ€™nine a hara! p. 63, 64
knish â€” now this is a delicacy that you should try. Itâ€™s a pastry dough filled with potato, or meat, or kasha, or whatever. p. 167
kristallnacht â€” 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 â€” the end of a loaf of bread; that crusty corner. Mmmmnnnnn. p. 89
kugel â€” a pudding. Sometimes thereâ€™s a potato kugel and sometimes a noodle (or lokshen) kugel, but who cares? Theyâ€™re both delicious. p. 33, 166, 192
kvetching â€” complaining or whining. Many a husband has told his wife (and vice-versa), "Stop your kvetching!" p. 140, 185
lamed vovnik â€” 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 â€” tall or long. p. 91
lashon rah â€” or better yet, loshon hara. Literally a "bad tongue"; slander or gossip. To be avoided like the plague. So take care. p. 149
latkes â€” pancakes made with oil and grated potatoes. Ask and Iâ€™ll send you a recipe. Usually eaten at Chanukah time, but who cares when? p. 192
litvak â€” a Jew from Lithuania. See the word glitzeeana. p. 148, 154
loksh â€” a noodle; a tall skinny guy! p. 91
lâ€™shana tova tikatayvu â€” 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 â€” 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 â€” Rock of Ages. A traditional song sung on Chanukah. p. 154
malach hamaves â€” the angel of death. So beware! p. 182
mamzer ben ha-niddah â€” Oy, is this an expression! Donâ€™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 â€” "man plans and God laughs" or "man proposes and God disposes." p. 35
matanah â€” a gift. p. 150
maxele â€” diminutive for Max as in Maxie. p. 81
mazel tov â€” surely you know this. "good luck!" or "congratulations!" p. 169, 201
mazel â€” luck. p. 147
me yâ€™malel â€” a popular Chanukah song; "Who can retell" p. 154
mechaya â€” a pleasure; a delight! p. 212
meese â€” ugly, plain in appearance. p. 91
meese nâ€™shumeh â€” an ill-favored person; not a nice person. The opposite is a gutteh neshomeh. p. 137
mensch â€” a real good person; a fine human being. In short, a mensch. p. 207
menshlichhkeit â€” the practice of all the virtues befitting a person. p. 99
meshuga â€” crazy; stupid! p. 112
meshugenas â€” zanies; silly or crazy people. p. 63
meshugeneh â€” This is the singular. One is enough! p. 111, 113, 205
metziah â€” a find! a treasure! p. 207
minyan â€” a religious quorum. It takes ten men to make a minyan in traditional Judaism. p. 103
mishpacha â€” family. But when you say "the whole mishpacha," you mean EVERYONE, related or not! p. 163, 207
mit schlag â€” 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 â€” the middle of the week. I suppose that thatâ€™s Wednesday. p. 76
mitzvah â€” a good deed; literally a "commandment" since God commands us to perform good deeds. p. 68, 95, 120, 142, 193, 210
mogen david â€” the six pointed Star of David. p. 151
mohel â€” a person who performs circumcisions. Howâ€™s that for a profession?! p. 88
narashkeit â€” nonsense. p. 161
nebbish â€” 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 â€” God forbid! p. 106
noch â€” yet; even; (surprisingly). p. 11
nosh â€” a snack, a bit of food taken between meals. "Have a nosh before dinner!" p. 58
nu? â€” Next to oy, the most frequently used expression. It means, Soâ€¦? p. 93, 206
ois-ge-pitzt â€” all dressed up, probably in a fancy over-dressed outfit. p. 87
oneg â€” Actually it means "joy" but has come to be associated with the refreshment taken after a religious service. p. 61, 82
or-mayn â€” the Yiddish equivalent of Amen. p. 147
oy â€” 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 â€” double OY! p. 88, 163, 193
oy chanukah, oy chanukah, a yom tov a freilach â€” a yiddish song. The translation is "Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, a happy holiday!" But in Yiddish itâ€™s so much better! p. 154
oyz â€” plural of oy. If one oy is good then two isâ€¦ p. 163
pekel â€” a little package (Thereâ€™s that diminutive again!); a little bit of something. p. 71
pheh â€” Pheh is pheh! Like pu-pu-pu, only pheh; a sound of disgust. p. 67, 74, 84, 94, 103, 148, 188
pisk â€” a not so nice expression for the "mouth" (cf. French "guele") p. 165
ponim â€” face. p. 48
pu, pu, pu â€” the sound of spitting out. See the notation under pheh. p. 64, 113
pupik â€” The belly-button or navel (are you an in-zy or an out-zy?) p. 88
qvell â€” to experience a sense of inner (and even outer) pride, usually in oneâ€™s children. What else? A synonymn, sort of, for to tschepp nachos p. 12
rebbitzen â€” the Rabbiâ€™s wife. p. 98, 159, 192, 205
ruggelach â€” 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 â€” ill kempt; sloppy, slovenly. p. 107
shandeh â€” a shame! p. 26, 109
shayne â€” pretty p. 56
shikkur â€” a drunk; intoxicated. p. 88, 151
shivah â€” 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 â€” to drag along, to pull. A person who is a shlep is a jerk, a wimp, an unkempt drip. p. 109
shlepping â€” see shlep and you have the idea. p. 40, 68, 141
shlumpy/shlumper â€” slovenly; ill-kempt. p.43, 107
shmateh â€” a rag; something your ex-husbandâ€™s new girlfriend wears. p. 67
shmeared â€” spread; Also used to indicate a bribe. p. 66
shmearar â€” one who paints, but not too carefully. p. 84, 85, 86
shmooze â€” idle talk; chit-chat p. 141
shmutz â€” dirt. p. 148
sholem â€” a favorite word, from the Hebrew meaning "peace." What could be better? p. 160
shtetl â€” a small community of Jews, usually reminiscent of the small towns in Poland before the Holocaust. p. 110, 112
shtick nachas â€” a special bit of joy. Every child is a shtick nachas to his grandparents. You donâ€™t believe this? Ask my wife! p. 48
shul â€” a synagogue. p. 48, 82, 94, 103, 144, 151
simcha â€” a joyous or happy occasion, a celebration. p. 151
sufganiot â€” jelly donuts. Just go to Israel at Chanukah time and you will eat plenty! p. 152, 153
taiglach â€” a confection made with honey and raisins and nuts and then more honey. Usually eaten on the Jewish New Year. p. 150
takkeh â€” really; "youâ€™re not kidding me." p. 160
tallis â€” a prayer shawl. p. 88
tallisim â€” plural of tallis. p.146
tanta â€” aunt. p. 80, 89
tattele â€” 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 â€” not kosher; forbidden. p. 57, 91, 138, 192
tsorris â€” troubles, worries; concerns. We all have them, so learn the word! p. 110
tsorris bi-leiten â€” other peopleâ€™s problems. This was the theme of a popular radio (you remember radio?) program. p. 216
tushie â€” 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 childâ€™s tushie, but you gave him or her a potch (slap) in tuchis! p. 21, 25, 26
tza-budjet â€” discombobulated; mixed up; confused, but with a "capital C." p. 212
tzedaka â€” charity p. 20
vay iz mir â€” "woe is me." But in Yiddish, of course itâ€™s so much better! p. 64, 87, 108
yarhtzeit â€” the date marking the yearly anniversary of someoneâ€™s passing. There are candles in glasses that are usually used as a memorial. p. 82
yarmulkes â€” the skull caps worn by men in a synagogue p. 48, 100
yenta tallabenta â€” a gossip; a chatter-box (I know this is sexist, but it refers only to women). p. 148
yeshiva â€” 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 â€” a holiday. p. 87, 150, 151
zaydies â€” plural of zaydie, a Grandpa! p. 63, 75, 76, 146
zoll gornisht helfen â€” nothing can help. Itâ€™s a fait accompli! Howâ€™s that for mixing languages? p. 72
zibitel â€” 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 â€” sweet. p. 164