Everybody heard of Israeli Chutzpah and that mother becomes a bit Mushuggeneh on Friday morning in preparation for Shabbos, but do you know the origin of these words and their meaning in modern English? You, guessed right, these words are taken from ancient Yiddish, mostly spoken in Ashkenazi communities, but we are sure those of you of Sephardic origin, heard these words once or twice in your live.
So, whether you are Ashkenazi or Sephardic, the following Yiddish words simply have to become part of your vocabulary and there are a few worth teaching your children too!
Bubbe(bubby) — Grandmother, or bobeshi the affectionate form.
In her 60’s or 70’s your Bubbe would appreciate a bit of attention and will always want to look younger physically as she feels inside, after all, age is only a number, so surprise her with a facial skin cream from the Dead Sea, show her some AHAVA
Chutzpah —Nerve, extreme arrogance, confidence, as in “It took a lot of nerve for him to ask for a raise when he kept showing up late for every appointment.”
Klutz — A clumsy person
Mensch (mentsch)— Literally “man,” an honorable, stand-up person, as your Bubbe would say, “I don’t care who you marry, as long as he’s a mensch.”
Looking for a gift for a real Mensch? He will surely appreciate this fine business card holder with Jerusalem’s depiction
Meshuggeneh — Crazy, insane, as in, “He must be meshuggeneh to think he can wear that getup to a funeral.”
Mishpocheh (mishpokhe, mishpucha)— Family, or someone who is “like family”, “Relax, you’re mishpocheh. I’ll sell it to you at wholesale.”
Mishpuche is the only thing that really matters in this world, who will we be without them? They may be slightly meshugane at times, but they are our crazy mishpuche.
Schmooze (shmooze)— Chat, make small talk.
Oy vey—an expression of woe, as in “Oy vey, we left the gefilte fish at the grocery store!” The phrase “oy vey iz mir” means “Oh, woe is me.” “Oy gevalt!” is like oy vey, but expresses fear, shock or amazement. When you realize you’re about to be hit by a car, this expression would be appropriate.
OyVey! We have come to the end of this fun article, but, no worries! Visit our Jewish blog, OyVey, for more fun articles about Jewish life and culture. Oh, be sure to share our fabulous Jewish Kosher recipes with your mother and bubbe!