the schmooze

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

What do these people have in common?

Christine O'Donnell
Margaret Hamilton
Samantha Stephens (Eliz. Montgomery)
Endora (Agnes Moorehead)
Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart)

They've all played witches, or dabbled in witchcraft.

When we think of Halloween "kostyums" (costumes), there are a few classics that come to mind. One of those is "der makhsheyfe" (the witch), an outfit that allows for lots of interpretation for men, women, and "der kinder" (the children).

You have a choice. You can be a scary witch with a hairy mole and "grin" (green) slimy skin, a sexy one with fishnets and pretty "hor" (hair), or a witch straight from the 18th century Salem witch trials. Oh, don't forget "der bezem" (the broom)!

You can be an "alte makhsheyte", an old witch, or a "generic witch," a person who practices sorcery. Sorcery can include a variety of aspects such as healing, divination, "kishef" (magic) spells, herbs, meditations, etc.

Ellen Cassidy, wrote about the Yiddish word, "makhsheyfe" (alternate spelling for the word witch):

TEN YEARS AGO, when my mother died, I developed an urgent desire to learn Yiddish. I couldn't save my mother from cancer, but maybe I could help to save this other precious Jewish thing. She would have been surprised, to put it mildly. In the Brooklyn household where she grew up in the '30s and '40s, English held the place of honor. Yiddish was about ignorance and poverty. My mother used Yiddish only occasionally to goof around in the kitchen: "Hand me a shisl!" (a bowl). On the phone: "The woman's a makhsheyfe" (a witch). At the window: "a plokhe" (a downpour). (Source:, 2002-03-01)

What sort of spell do witches hold over us?
Would we really elect a tea party "dahling" who revealed that she had dabbled in witchcraft as a "tsenerlingn" (teenager)?

In September, HBO's Bill Maher released a 1999 clip of O'Donnell saying, "I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven,"
she said on ABC's Politically Incorrect. "One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that." (Note: A "coven" is an assembly of witches.)

Type Christine O'Donnell's name into a Google search and youll find that many internet users associate her with the word "witch."

The REALLY BIG "frage" (question):
Will Christine O'Donnell dress as a witch for Halloween? My advice? "Redt nit keyn narishkayt." (Don't talk nonsense.) And, "Makh zikh nit narish." (Don't make yourself foolish.)
Marjorie G. Wolfe is investing in a Christine O'Donnell witch doll for the collectible "prayz" (price) of $39.95, from Herobuilders. com.


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N O P Q R S T U V W   Y Z
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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