A “shidduch” is a match made for an arranged marriage. Click the player below to hear it used in a typical sentence…
Matzoh brei is Jewish French toast. It could be served as a sweet dish with jam or syrup or as a savory dish. I definitely prefer to use salt and pepper for a savory flavor.
There are so many ways to say it. The Amish say, “We get too soon old and too late smart.” How true that is for me. I never felt I was good enough and I was always afraid to do things. And now I am too old to do stuff. Now I’m brave when it’s too late. So you must “Seize the day!” How would we say this idea in Yiddish? Click on the player below to hear what I told my daughter…
My favorite children’s poet is Brian Moses. You won’t believe his delightful poem called “Walking with My Iguana.” Apparently he saw someone walking their pet iguana on a leash, or as they say “lead,” at the English seaside and was inspired. He is also a teacher and wrote a poem called “Behind the Staffroom Door,” a tale of attrition of “ten tired teachers.” And that reminds me, he is also a percussionist. Why should the children have all the fun?
I loved Fred Allen, who had a radio show. His humor was witty and somewhat subtle, not just one gag after another. I loved him but my mother didn’t. He had a bit called Allen’s Alley where he would walk down the hall (and here is where radio shines–you could image him walking down a corridor in a building just like yours). Anyway, he would knock on doors and various characters would appear. For instance, one was a Southern blow hard named Senator Claghorn. (“Ah say, I said, I will neva go to Yankee Stadium!”) My daughter tells me this is the basis of a cartoon character, Foghorn Leghorn.
Well one of the occupants of Allen’s Alley was Mrs. Nussbaum, an obviously Jewish character with a Yiddish accent, played by the wonderful Minerva Pious. (“Who stole mine stole?”) I thought this was hilarious. But my mother never liked anything where they made fun of Jewish people. She took umbrage. My mother hated Mrs. Nussbaum and anything that was a take-off, travesty, or stereotype.
But Minerva Pious was delightful. Click on the player below to hear her as Mrs. Nussbaum on the Fred Allen Show, May 26, 1946. You will have to decide if it is offensive or funny, or both.
The very first live play that I went to see happened to be a musical, in the Hopkinson theater in Brownsville. I had never been to the theater in my life. I was about 10. My mother and father took me. It was a Yiddish play with Menasha Skulnik called Getzel vert a khoosin (Getzel Becomes a Bridegroom). I was so amazed. There were people singing and dancing and hulyan on stage. And I knew they were telling funny stories because everyone in the audience was laughing their heads off. That was the first time I had been to a play and I didn’t know very much Yiddish at the time. I never forgot it. I had been to the movies before. But I knew immediately that this was not like going to the movies. This was real life. It was the beginning of my awakening to the outside world.
I am only scratching the surface and now adding some of the multitude of dictionaries of one sort or another. I mentioned my love for the English language and you may see many related reference books on the list. (This new list includes books on all prior lists so it replaces them.)
This is what my mother would say when the weather was wacky like it has been on the East coast of the U.S., snowing one day and warm the next. On the internet it says that the phrase Moishe Kapoyer was coined by a humorist, B. Kovner, in The Forverts (The Forward, a Yiddish newspaper). This makes sense because my mother always read the paper. What does it mean? Moishe of course is Moses, or Morris. Kapoyer means backward or reversed. So in effect it means Moses is upside down. Whenever you are discussing something that is topsy turvy, it’s Moishe Kapoyer.