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Archive | Yiddish

This category contains all of the blog posts on Yiddish

The Rosh Hashanah hero

I might be wrong, but I think that Rosh Hashana has made me a hero. I’m gabbai––a synagogue valet––at an orthodox shul in Toronto where I’m in charge of kibbudim, the distribution of such honors as opening the ark, being called to the Torah, and so on. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah this […]

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Good soul

We like to help people who’ve half-remembered a Yiddish expression they heard in their family. Here’s one example. There is a saying my family and I can’t find and hope you can give us the meaning. I’ll try to get it out….sounds like goota or guta nishuma. Can you help? Guteh neshomeh (or neshumeh) means

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Helfn vi a toytn bankes

Along with the shone toyves that I’ve been sending out to friends and family this year, I’ve been receiving New Year’s cards of another kind from politicians and Jewish communal figures whom I’ve been peppering with what are best described as instructional letters and e-mails. These cards implore me to be sure to go to […]

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If at first you don’t succeed…

Sometimes I don’t always get it the first time… I have heard of a Yiddish expression that in English means “It saves two others.” However, I have never been able to find it or hear it in Yiddish. Can you provide the expression in Yiddish? Sorry, but

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Saying “Welcome” in Yiddish

Here’s a lovely request we had from England recently: I am trying to translate the term ‘Welcome’ into Yiddish for a conference banner City and Hackney Mind are producing in London very soon! Can you help? If ‘Welcome’ is inappropriate please feel free to advice another similar term. We want people to feel welcome when […]

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Poo Poo Poo

Jews are superstitious. What’s up with that? I think that this is a tradition, but I do not know how it came about. Why when we wish to avoid ain horah do we extend the pointer finger and the tall finger when we spit three times and then say poo, poo, poo? My guess (and […]

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Oy daddy

We get a lot of pronunciation queries. Here’s one: I’m currently in a production of ‘Ragtime’ in Chicago, and we’ve got a question about the pronunciation of the word “Tateh”. Given that he’s a Latvian Jewish immigrant in the early 1900s, how would “Tateh” be pronounced? We’ve had two Tatehs and one pronounced it “Tah-tuh” […]

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Veys ikh voos!

We’re into the month of Elul now, when we’re supposed to begin examining our deeds and telling the truth to God and ourselves. Contempt for the kind of b.s. that we use to justify our dodgier actions has given rise to one of the most remarkable, not to mention useful, of Yiddish phrases: veys ikh […]

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