I loved French when I took it in junior high school. I loved Spanish when I took it in high school. I learned a bit of Hebrew when I went to after school Hebrew a few hours a week when I was a kid. Mom and Dad once in a while would use a Yiddish word when they were talking to one another to emphasize something. When Mom use to visit us every Saturday, after I picked her up at the hair salon, she would go over to the back of where our homes backed up to each other and do her good deed for the week called a mitzvah. There was an old lady grandmother who lived with her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons and she only spoke Hebrew or Yiddish. Since Mom did not know Hebrew, but was fluent in Yiddish, she would spend an hour with the old lady whose name was Ba (her grandsons called her that) and it really made the old lady’s week. She had someone other than her family who could converse with her and it helped to make her life pleasanter. Mom never missed a week on Saturday to go and visit Ba and to make the old lady smile. They would hug when Mom left her to come back to my house. It was a sweet hour.
Yiddish is a vernacular language of people in Eastern and Central Europe and had been spoken before World War II. Today it is spoken by the descendants of those people living in the USA, Israel and other parts of the world. It is a language of Western Germanic languages that includes English, Dutch and Afrikaans.
It is I believe a dying language, though many young people now want to learn it. It has colorful words and many of them have been adopted into the English dictionary. You can look many of them up and see the meaning. Some of them are maven which means an expert in something, schlep which means to drag something or yourself along, tussy which means your rear end, chutzpah which means gall or nerve and kvetch means a person who whines.
You will hear these above words used in stories on television, on soap operas and you will see them written in articles. Some of them express the word meaning, funnier or clearer than the original English word. Comedians have used them for years and they have been adopted by everyone as part of the language we speak daily. I have an African American friend, a physician, Dr. Kamala A. Foster who practices in the Silver Spring-Gaithersburg area of Maryland and she loves these words. I bought her a Yiddish-American dictionary and I also bought one for my first dance teacher who is now studying to be a chaplain. He, too, along with Dr. Foster likes these words. His name is Laurence E. Miller of Portland, Maine. Both of them are Christians, but find these words colorful and interesting.
I know about maybe one hundred or less of them, from having picked them up during my childhood years. I could never talk in a complete sentence with them, but I could illustrate a point in my writings by calling someone a mentsh which means a gentleman or a fine lady. My physical therapist Cheryl Conrad is interested when I teach her a new word now and then.
Yiddish is very colorful and the words convey true meanings. There is the word nachas which means you have great joy, there is the word nu which means so? There is the word punim which means a beautiful face. There is the word metsia which means a bargain or big deal. There is a word meaning homey called heymish. It is used for saying someone has a heymish home or even an office.
Kinder is the word for children and mekhaye means a pleasure. You will see them spelled in various manners and still they mean the same thing.
Nu (so) when I dance it is a mekhaye (pleasure) and we all hope the kinder are well (children are ok). We get nachas (joy) from different things in life and all our children and grandchildren have beautiful punim (faces). Our friends are real mentshs (good guys and gals) and chutzpah is when someone has the gall to say something obnoxious to you when you do not deserve it. You kvetch when you are feeling bad or are unhappy about something or you ache and have pain. To kvell is to have pride in something you do or someone you love does. We kvell all the time about things that makes us happy.
So here I am, a senior, trying to be a language teacher of a slowly disappearing language to people reading my articles. I thought it cute to try this for one article. Hope you are becoming a maven (expert) from this lesson and you think it a big deal (metsia) and you are not schlepping (dragging along) learning some new and different words from another language. Sheyne means beautiful and good, so I hope you are feeling beautiful or handsome today and also feeling well and most of all I wish you mazel ( great luck) and now you know a few mameloshn ( Yiddish words) and this makes you smile and you have seykhel even some more( intelligence) because you know another language. The last word is Shalom and that means hello, goodbye and most of all peace. Shalom!!!!