It's almost Thanksgiving. The Yiddish word for
thankful is "dankbar." And so, we give thanks to Aaron Lansky (The
National Yiddish Book Center), YIVO; the return of The Bintel Brief to The
Forward; Du Du Fisher (for performing at Carnegie Hall); The Jewish Ethicist;
Chmol Pushka (an organization that delivers food to Israel's neediest Jews); the
Tenement Museum in NYC; and Hachnosas Kallah Fund (which makes it
possible for a kallah and her family to purchase the necessities before
the wedding and helps families lead their children to the chupah without
Thanks for "di bobe" who makes a "bubbella" (the nickname of a
kosher-for-Passover pancake made with matzoh meal, stiff egg whites, egg yolks,
and sprinkled liberally with sugar).
Thanks to those teachers who know the difference between "ADHD" and "shpilkes";
the God Squad; Jelvis, the Jewish Elvis; Neil Diamond (also called the Jewish
Elvis). When Diamond was asked, "What's the most stereotypically Jewish thing
about you?" he replied, "Probably that I worry about people when they don't
eat--it's the Jewish mother in me. I'm Jewish through and through. Yiddish was
practically my first language; my parents and grandparents spoke it when they
didn't want me to know what they were saying. But of course, I understood
We give thanks to JDate, Jewish Speed Dating, and Frumster.com. (Interesting
statistic: More than half of adults in NYC are single!)
Thanks for Jewish Haiku (After the warm rain the sweet smell of camellias. Did
you wipe your feet?); Lisa Grunberger ("Yiddish Yoga - Ruthie's Adventures in
Love, Loss, and the Lotus Position"); Billy Crystal - (Yiddish is "a combination
of German and phlegm"); and Michael Wex ("How To Be A Mensch (And Not A
Thanks to Misterbrisket.com (1-877-Brisket); "nes min hashomayih"
(miracles from heaven); "motosikel (motorcycle) clubs like "Chai
Riders"; newspaper headlines that read:
"Obama Schmoozed Here" (NYX, 11/9/08)
Thanks for the new Museum of the History of Tel Aviv Jaffa, which opens in
December with "Revealing the Hidden City," an exhibit of photography documenting
Tel Aviv's evolution into the Mideast's cultural hub.
Thanks to Yiddishists, Benjamin Blech, David Glaser, Sylvia Schildt, Zalmen
Miotek, Henry Sapoznik, Fishl Kutner, Marcia Gruss Levinsohn, and David Roskies
at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Philologos (The Jewish Daily Forward);
Binyumen Schaechter's VZMAY; "The Yiddish Dictionary of Fools" by Marnie
"A dank" to Anna Muerstenberg's malapropositions; "Jewish Gangsters,
Pimps & Nogoodniks" - Lower East Side (NY) walking tour; Sholem Aleichem at 150;
UCLA Center for Jewish Studies; The Jewish Public Library, Cummings Square,
Montreal; Jon Stewart; HE-BREW--The Chosen Beer; the late slalpstick comedian,
Soupy Sales (Milton Supman and private detective, Philo Kvetch). Soupy said,
"Keep your chin up--it'll keep the milk from spilling on your clothes."
Thanks to Janet Perr ("Yiddish or Babies--A Langauge Primer for your Little
Pitsol"); Chosencouture.com; Chocolateelt.com; GM (not General Motors;
Thanks to "zayde"--a man who performs lame tricks like finding a quarter
in one's ears, or pretending to pull one's nose off. Any older relative adored
by children during the holidays.
We give thanks to "zamlers" for the National Yiddish Book Center; Zackary
Sholem Berger's blog; "Jewish Currents - The Magazine Of The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter
Ring"; "Being Jewish - Relevant Judaism for Modern Life" magazine; the new
Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Research Center and Archives; Camp
Ramah; and the book, "Chrismukkah" by Ron Gompertz.
Thanks for "Matzo Ball'"--n. A Jewish party or dance held on Christmas Eve;
California Senator, Barbara Boxer, who would like to see the issue of health
care reform raised at synagogues every Saturday and at churches every Sunday;
Michael Feinstein ("The Sinatra Project"); the Yiddish film, "Vu iz mayn kind?"
(Where is my child?); and haimishe, Stephen Z. Cohen ("Laugh 'Til You
Thanks to Shane Bertram Baker, star of "The Big Bupkis! A Complete Gentile's
Guide to Yiddish Vaudeville." Baker, a Catholic, has just returned to NY from
the Univ. of Texas at Austin, where he completed a master's thesis on the Vilna
theater troupe for the Germanic Studies Department. As a child growing up in the
Midwest in the '70s, Baker became interested in Yiddish while watching Marx
Brothers movies. Hearing Groucho use the word "schnorer," Baker says he
asked his father what it meant. He was told it was a made-up word. (It means
cheapskate in Yiddish.) "How are gentiles in Kansas City supposed to know?"
Baker says with a laugh.
Thanks to Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees his mission as protecting the Jewish
people from a second Holocaust (Newsweek Magazine, 11/02/09); Dan Goggin, with
his melodies and lyrics that echo well known songs: "Matzo Man" for "Macho Man,'
"Three Shayna Maidels" (a snappy Andrews Sisters knockoff).
Thanks for Cel-Ray Tonic; David Sax ("Save the Deli") and for his new word, "Pastraminomics":
the dollars and senselessness of the New York delicatessen business; Karnatzel--Romanian-inspired
salmon, the width of a nickel. Only available in Montreal and best when hung to
dry for a week or so.
Thanks for the humor of personal ads that begin, "Have Yarmulka, "Will
Travel"; sermons titled, "Thanksgiving Leftovers"; Bernard S. Raskas, who wrote,
"The real test of a good housewife is not what she serves on Thanksgiving Day,
but how she handles leftover turkey.
Thanks for the "2nd Ave Deli Cookbook"; deli signs which read "CHOPPED LIVER,
$17,980.00 per Ton. May be purchased in Smaller Quantities" (Protzel's Deli,
Thanks to the Red Hat Society concept: fun really does begin at fifty; sermons
titled, "Real Men Do Ask Directions"; and the late Molly Goldberg ("Go hang
yourself in the closet").
Thanks for "The Gefilte Fish Chronicles, a loving look at one extended family's
100-plus years of celebrating Passover. Dozens of descendants of Abe and Minnie
Dubroff gather in Newburgh, NY, to cook, eat, pray, eat some more, and
Thanks for hillel sandwiches, made with a mixture of matzah, bitter herbs, and
Thanks for those inspirational quotes from "The Breast Friends website":
"When life hands out lemons, squeeze out a smile."
Thanks for The Heeb Storytelling Collection, "Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish," edited
by Shana Liebman; and thanks to Myrna Goldberger, lecturer, for her self-written
one-act play, "Lauren." (She portrays Lauren Bacall, a "nice Jewish girl" who
lived her own script. From theatre usher to Hollywood star, she carved out a
life in films, and on stage, and defied the odds with her passion and marriage
to Humphrey Bogart.) (Lifelong Learning Society, Jupiter, FL).
Marjorie Wolfe says, "We should be thankful for the good things that we have
and, also, for the bad things we don't have."
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of a new book
titled, "Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers." To order, click
19 Market Dr.
Syosset, NY 11791
$3.50 postage & handling, USA)
$13 (pus $5.00 postage & handling,