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WOLFE'S WORDSFebruary 12, 2009
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by: Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
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This Month...

Editor's Comment
Michael looks at:
Farewell, Shalom and Adieu

Being Jewish Magazine

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An Open Letter from Abba to His Family

Enough With The Political Finger-Pointing!

Revisiting the Haggadah

Eddy's Recipe List
Victoria Sponge

Book Review
Unstrung Heroes

The Outspeaker
Encouraging violence is never correct

Good times and bad times with Batya

Nathan Weissler
What my friendship with Michael Hanna-Fein meant to me

BC's Backlot
The Last Shalom

This And That
My Treasure Chest

Three Symbols of Passover


Lynn Ruth Miller
How we all became part of a bigger story

Mel Yahre
A few words for my friend

Eddy's Thoughts
Don't let life flutter by

The Bear Facts
How I found Michael


*...and the Stories Behind Them
Adults do it; kids do it, even politicians do it. Profanity in America is commonplace. Everyone seems to use the "f" word.

Elliot Spitzer used the "f" word:
"I'm a f--- steamroller, and I'll roll over you."
When asked whether his comments were inappropriately boastful, Spitzer replied,
"No. Next question."

U2 frontman, Bono, blurted out the "f" word during a live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards on NBC.

Rod Blagojevich's frank, cavalier talk was actually recorded by the FBI. He said, The seat is "a f---ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

And sweet newsbroadcaster, Sue Simmons, used the "f" word. Newsweek said, "But you gotta admire her delivery."

Yiddish has so many perfectly clean "f" words. Shown below are some of my favorites:

1. "freylech " (happy)
Three friends, a priest, a pastor and a rabbi celebrated the fifth anniversary of their weekly card game by booking passage on a cruise "shif" (ship). They planned a "freylech " event even though they were well aware that the ship's captain forbade all forms of gambling on board the vessel.
Undeterred, the three clergymen passed their time at sea gambling in their stateroom. Word reached the captain who summoned them to his quarters.
"It's been reported to me that you have been gambling," he said to them. Eying the priest, he said in a stern voice,
"Father, you surely would not tell an untruth. Were you gambling?" The priest denied that he had been gambling. The captain turned to the pastor,
"I know that you are an honorable man of the Lord and will not lie, were you and the others gambling?" The pastor calmly denied that any gambling had occurred. Turning to the last of the three men, the captain continued,
"Rabbi, surely you would not speak a falsehood. Were you gambling?" With a look of innocence, the rabbi answered,
"With whom?"

2. "fapitzed " (all dolled up)
Jackie Mason talks about "fapitz'd " (an alternate spelling). A husband surprises his wife by putting on a clean shirt with cuff links attached to it, and wearing a tie that he usually saves only for bar mitzvahs and weddings. Immediately the wife is wondering if he's got something going on the side. She says,
"So, where are you going so fapitz'd ?" And if he says,
"Oh, nowhere," then he's IN TROUBLE.

A woman is going to have a date with "Mr. Right." (They met on JDate.) So, she goes and buys an expensive dress, spends all day in the beauty shop, and has a French manicure work a double shift on her fingers. When she's finally ready to go out, with every hair in place and the eye shadow just perfect, a friend says,
"You look so farputst , I didn't recognize you."
Is this a compliment? It's really a "baleydikung " (an insult), because this means that normally she looks like she just woke up.

3. "fancy-shmancy "
Shmuel, the tailor, comes to America from a little Russian town. He could not read or write English and he opened a shop. He prospered. In time he went to Bank Leumi and opened a business account. Unable to write, he signed his name by making two crosses on the bank documents in lieu of his signature.
As the years rolled by, he prospered still further. He sold his tailor shop, went into the cloak-and-suit business and then into the manufacture of piece goods. Again, he went to Bank Leumi to handle his expanded business. But instead of signing two crosses, he signed three.
"Far vos (why) three crosses instead of two?" asked the president.
"Oh, you know how women are," muttered Shmuel.
"My wife got fancy-shmancy these last few years. Now she wants I should have a middle name."

4. "frageh " (question)
As Yom Kippur arrives, a 7-year-old boy, Shlomo, slipped into the synagogue pew next to his father during the holiday service in Woodmere, New York.
Shlomo was a little bit late, and he had missed the rabbi's announcement that charitable pledges made by the congregants would be read aloud.
All he heard was: "Mr. and Mrs. Adler, $200, Mr. and Mrs. Berger, $150. Mr. and Mrs. Davis, $500."
Shlomo listened raptly, then excitedly asked the question,
"Hey, Dad, did we win anything?"
Then there's the little boy who goes to synagogue for the first time. He looks around and asks his grandfather the following question:
"Why are all the men wearing coffee filters on their heads?"

5. "fuftsik " (50)
A rich man gives $50 to a shnorrer. At lunch time the rich man enters his favorite 'restoran.' To his surprise, he sees the shnorrer sitting at a table, dining on an expensive meal. The rich man bursts into anger,
"You tricked me. You aren't poor after all if you can afford to eat in this restaurant." The shnorrer replies,
"Why does it always have to be this way with me? When I'm broke, I can't eat in a restaurant. When I have some money, I also shouldn't eat in a restaurant. So tell me, am I NEVER to enjoy a meal in a restaurant?"

6. "farblondget " (lost, confused, wandering around)
Today, with the popularity of the GPS navigational system in cars, fewer people are getting "farblondget ."

There's this old fellow standing by the side of the road in Boca Raton, Florida. A Cadillac pulled up and the driver asked him if he knew where Ben's Deli was located. The old fellow answered,
"No." The driver then asked if he knew where the Kravis Center was. (They were offering a show titled, "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy.") The old man said he didn't. The driver then said,
"What in the world do you know?" The old fellow answered,
"I know I'm not lost!"

7. "farkoyfer "(clerk/salesperson)
A blonde goes into Ciruit City because it is selling off its remaining inventory. She asks the salesperson,
"How much is this 'televisye ' (television)?"
"Sorry, we don't sell to blondes," the salesman said. She says to herself,
"Such mishegoss!" So she dyes her "hor " and comes back as a brunette.
"How much is this 'televisye' ?" she asks. Again the salesman says,
"I'm sorry, we don't sell to blondes."
A few weeks later, she goes in wearing a long "royt shaytl " (red wig), but again the salesman announces,
"We don't sell to blondes"
Finally, she says,
"My hair is red. How did you know I was really a blonde?"
The salesman says,
"Because it's not a TV. It's a microwave!"

8. "Feh !" (a visceral expression of disgust, either physical or emotional. It's the shortest, most efficient way in the Yiddish language to say something stinks)
Phyllis Diller, with her short, quippy lines, says:
"Hey, what are those Sex and the City shoes? Those Manolo Blahniks. Do they come with crutches? No, wait. Do they come with a walker? Which one's better? I like walker. Crutch is an ugly word. She kicks up her skinny legs and says,
"Feh !"

9. "farklempt " (all choked up, overwhelmed)
Neale Donald Walsch ("Happier Than God - Turn Ordinary Life into an Extraordinary Experience") writes, "There is a difference between sadness and unhappiness. During the writing of this book, my dog, Lady, died. She had been my companion over 14 years. In the past 12 months she had become increasingly pain-filled, from a variety of ailments and conditions. Toward the end she was stone deaf and could hardly walk. In the very last days she could not even raise herself up. I was sad when she died, but I was not unhappy. This is not a trivial distinction. I was sad that Lady was no longer with me, but I was happy that she was no longer in pain."

10. "fartrakhtn zikh " (to reflect)
Dave Pelzer ("Moving Forward - Taking The Lead In Your Life") writes about visiting marines at Bethesda Naval Hospital
"Alone, after I carefully opened the door, I walked in and maintained a genuine smile. With only one eye open due to the bandages covering half the young man's face, he held my gaze. In less than a second I felt completely ashamed of myself and all MY worldly problems.

Sitting next to the injured marine, who was on suicide watch, was his young wife, who looked as if she had aged five years in the last five weeks; their infant son; and the man's dejected parents. Beside his lap, the young man rested his hand on his worn Bible...

As I approached the side of his bed, with every fiber of my being, I prayed for God to relieve me of my pitiful issues and instead to use me as an instrument to help ease this man's pain. I sat down on the side of the bed and grasped the marine's thick hand. Kindly, he didn't hesitate at the gesture. Since I knew he was deaf in one ear, I gently leaned over to his good ear and asked,
"How we doing today?"

The young man immediately scribbled on a yellow legal pad...; Now...OK...

All I could do was nod. Neither of us seemed to breathe or blink. I continued to hold and squeeze his hand. Silence passed between us, but we still held our stare. As my chest began to heave from shame and sorrow, I could feel the marine's body begin to shake as well. A single tear fell from his face onto the legal pad and he scribed, ? Me...alive,. every 1 else...gone...Why me?...

In a rare instance of grace, I whispered,
"You survived for a reason. God has a plan for you. He has a plan for your boy, a boy who needs his father who will live and teach by example. I know He wants you to make your brothers proud. You've got to carry on. You've been chosen. That's your mission. You're the one. "

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of a new book titled, "Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers." To order, click
Marjorie Wolfe
19 Market Dr.
Syosset, NY 11791
$13 (plus $3.50 postage & handling, USA)
$13 (pus $5.00 postage & handling, Canada)


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