the schmooze

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The Yiddish word for “a glass” is “gluz.”
A “glass of tea” is a “glezel tai.”
The Yiddish word for “water” is “vaser.”
“Schnaps” is any strong alcoholic drink.  Some synagogues serve “schnaps” with herring as part of the snacks with kiddish after services.

Rabbi Nilton Bonder (“Yiddishe Kop - Creative Problem Solving in Jewish Learning, Lore & Humor”) wrote a story about a famous (“barimt”) Hasidic rabbi. (Note:  The Yiddish words have been added.)   He’s on his deathbed and all around him are hundreds of disciples. They want to hear his parting message (“yedie”).  A devoted student goes up to him and begins to whisper (“shepshen”), “Rebbe, don’t leave us without a last word of wisdom.  We are all waiting for a word from you.”

No reaction; the many disciples start to weep (“veynen”).
They fear that their beloved (“balibt”) master had departed.
Then, suddenly (“plutsling”), his lips began to move and, with great difficulty (“menie”) the students hear the words,          “Life is like a glass of tea.”

“Everyone is greatly perplexed by such a musical revelation, until somebody dares to ask, “Why is life like a glass of tea?”

“…Rebbe, we get you to tell us:  why is life like a glass of tea?”

With his last breath, the Rebbe shrugs and whispers, “All right, so it’s NOT like a glass of tea.”

A “Water Story”

It’s Yom Kippur and Aaron is in synagogue, but he’s not feeling too good.  He’s “krank” (sick).  So during the short break, he goes over to the Rabbi.  “I really need your help, Rabbi Levy.

“Yes, Aaron, how can I help,” says the Rabbi.

“I obviously know that I’m meant to fast today, but I’m so thirsty (“dorshtik”).  Please, Rabbi, can I have something to drink?”

Rabbi Levy replies in a firm voice, “I’m sorry,  Aaron, but you know the rules - it has to be a life-threatening situation before I can allow you to break the fast.”

“But Rabbi, it is serious,” says Aaron.  “If I don’t get something to drink, I’ll faint (“shvakh”) from thirst.  Really I will.”

After much to-ing and fro-ing, Rabbi Levy relents and instructs the gabbai to give Aaron a small (“kleyn”) glass of water kept just for such emergency (“noytfal”).  As soon as Aaron has drunk the water, he says, “Thank you, Rabbi, I promise you that it will be the last time I’ll eat salt herring for breakfast on Yom Kippur.”


It has been said that “When life gives you lemons, send them to buy wine.”

George Carlin asked, “What I wanna know is, which wine goes with Captain Crunch?”

A “wine” story:

A couple of tourists were dining at a fine restaurant in Miami Beach.  After waiting an hour, the husband (“der man”) finally was able to catch the waiter’s eye.  “I want a bottle of your best wine,” he ordered. “What year?” asked the waiter.
“Right now!” bellowed the tourist.

Tinamarie Bernard (SDJJ, May, 2007) wrote a wonderful piece titled, “Manischewitz Whine.”   The writer confessed that she secretly loved Manischewitz wine.  However, she says that since she joined the Jewish community [as a convert], she has yet to meet someone else who publicly admits to liking Manischewitz.  “I’m beginning to think Manischewitz is like Jewish cough syrup - people drink it because there are no alternatives’ says Bernard.

She adds, “Even if you pretend not to like the stuff, Manischewitz is as Jewish as hamantaschen, noodle kugel and latkes….Manischewitz is really just syrup with a kick.”

Her final thought:  “Jews tend to spout lots of opinions and some might even accuse us of having a penchant for complaining….In which case, maybe the makers of this esteemed Jewish drink might consider renaming it Manischewitz Whine.”


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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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