the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Note:  The Yiddish words for “bridge” is “brik.”

As we approach the Jewish new year and Election Day, this quote by Suzy Kassem seems so appropriate:

“Choose a leader who will invest in building
BRIDGES, NOT WALLS.  Books, not weapons.
Morality, not corruption.  Intellectualism and wisdom,
not ignorance.  Stability, not fear and terror.  Peace,
not chaos.  Love, not hate.  Convergence, not segre-
gation.  Tolerance, not discrimination.  Fairness, not
hypocrisy.  Substance, not superficiality. Character,
not immaturity.  Transparency, not secrecy.  Justice,
not lawlessness.  Environmental improvement and
preservation, not destruction.  Truth, not lies.”

The newspapers are reporting on a trial (“mishpet”) stemming from the September 2013 lane closure at the George Washington Bridge.  This investigation (“oysforshung”) has dragged on for more than 2 1/2 years. It has led to subpoenas and grand jury appearances for dozens of people from Gov. Chris Christie’s political network.

Two people, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, face nine felony counts, including conspiracy and wire fraud (“shvindl”).  The U. S government says they helped arrange the closures to punish (“shtrofn”) a local official who wouldn’t endorse Mr. Christie for re-election.  The prosecutors say they they caused the traffic jams at the GW Bridge and plunged the town into four days of gridlock.

The evidence (“di raye”):  Ms. Kelly sent Mr. Wildstein an email (“blitz-post”) that said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee (NJ).”  Ms. Kelly was fired and has been largely out of work since the probe began.  Mr. Wildstein has pleaded guilty and is expected to be a key government witness (“eydes”).

On a much lighter note, here’s a second bridge story:

Once upon a time, two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict.  It was the first serious (“ehrnst”) rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart (“bazunder”).  It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major (“hoypt”) difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning (“frimorgn”) there was a knock on John’s door.  He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox.  “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said.  “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with?  Could I help you?”

“Yes,” said the older (“elter”) brother.  “I do have a job for you.  Look across the creek (“dos taykhl”) at that farm. That’s my neighbor; in fact, it’s my younger (“yinger”) brother.  Last week there was a meadow (“lonke”) between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us.  Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better (“beser”).
See that pile of lumber (“gehilts”) by the barn?  I want you to build me a fence—an 8-foot fence—so I won’t need to see his place or his face (“ponem”) anymore.”

The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation.
Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”

The “elter” brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.  The carpenter worked hard all day, measuring, sawing, nailing.  About sunset (“zun-untergang”), when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer’s eyes (“eygelekh”) opened wide, his jaw dropped.  There was NO fence there at all.  It was a bridge—a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other!  A fine piece of work—handrails and all—and the neighbor, his “yinger” brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.

“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge and then they met in the middle (“der mitl”), taking each other’s hand.  They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder.

“No, wait!  Stay a few days.  I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the “elter” brother.

“I’d love to stay on,” said the carpenter, “but I have many more bridges to build.”

And the final bridge story—a Chelm story.  Note:  The Jews of Chelm earned a reputation for simple-mindedness, giving rise to many interesting stories.

Two men from Chelm are watching the 11:00 news featuring a story about a guy jumping off a bridge.

Chaim says to Yankel, “I bet you $10 he doesn’t jump.” Yankee says okay, “ bet you $10 he does.”

They watch the rest of the broadcast.  The guy jumps, so Yankel goes to give Chaim the money.

Chaim says, “I can’t take your money.  I saw the 10 o’clock news and they showed the same story.

Yankee says, “So did I, but I didn’t think he would jump AGAIN!!!”


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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