the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The Yiddish word for chicken or rooster is "hun."
A "shochet" is Hebrew for a ritual slaughter: a man who is specially trained in the rules of shechitah (kosher butchering). He must pass a difficult examination in Jewish law and animal anatomy and be an observant Jew. A shochet kills meat and fowl in a proscribed way to avoid inflicting pain on the animal, according to the rules set forth in the Shulchan rukh." The Yiddish word for butcher is "katsev."

Who was famous for saying, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage"?
The answer: Herbert Hoover.

Shown below are some humorous chicken stories:

1. Sam Levenson ("In One Era & Out the Other") describes mama's "chicken surgery": "It has been neatly disjointed of all its organs sorted out and filed into plastic see-through bags. The young housewife has been spared the bloody ordeal of chicken surgery. Chicken can now be bought in parts. Anyone can create his own version of a chicken out of a do-it-yourself chicken kit. Put together two heads, one eye, three breasts, four feet, add a Mandolin, and you've got yourself an original poultry Picasso."

2. Levenson wrote, "A marquee that says: Special today fresh-killed chicken is not quite the same as 'Psst, Mrs. Levenson. Have I got a chicken for you! You'll lick your fingers from it."

3. Levenson talks about his first lessons in ideological warfare:

Customer: "Mister, this chicken has a broken leg." Butcher: "Look, lady, you gonna eat it or dance with it?"

4. Is Crystal, who owned Crystal's Int'l, a a food emporium founded by his father, tells this chicken story:

"The day before Yom Kippur, the shammes used to come to our house early in the morning while we were still in our underwear. He would take a live chicken out of a gunnysack, hold it by its legs, and swing it in circles over our heads. That was the custom of shlogn kapores. Suddenly your sins were taken away from you and given to the chicken." (Source: "Growing Up Jewish in America - An Oral History" by Myrna Katz Frommer & Harvey Frommer)

5. There are three ways to skin a butcher:

"Sol entered the butcher shop, inspected the proprietor's six chickens in the glass counter, and then made known his wants.

"Mister, you shouldn't think I'm meshuggeh or anything, but in my family we believe we should chew the food, that it shouldn't be too tender. So I want three of the toughest chickens you got."

The butcher jumped at the chance to get rid of his inferior stock. He placed them on the counter for his peculiar customer's inspection. "There y'are," he offered. "Three of the toughest old birds I got."

"A shaynem dahnk," murmored Sol, the hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "Now, you'll give me please the other three chickens, if you'll be so kindly." (Source: "Joys of Jewish Humor", by Henry D. Spalding)

6. And then there's another story from the "Joys of Jewish Humor":

"Rabbi, I have a ritual question to ask," said Velvel. "A real problem."

"Nu, what's the problem?"

"I have a hen and a rooster and one of them has to be sacrificed for our Sabbath dinner. But which will it be--the rooster or the hen? If I take the rooster, the hen raises such a tumult that the noise drives me crazy. But if I take the hen, the rooster shrieks so that my blood curdles. Tell me, what should I do?"

The rabbi mulled the matter over for a few moments and then gave his decision. "You really have no problem," he said. "According to Jewish law you must take the hen."

"But you're forgetting the rooster," protested Velvel. "He'll screan and holler as though I had wounded him."

"So he'll scream and holler, answered the rabbi mildly. "There's a law that makes you stand there and listen?"

7. Irv Kaze wrote: "My grandfather was both a mohel and a shochet. Whenever he set out on one of his rounds, I used to kid him: 'Zayde, make sure you got the ' right knife now.'"

8. F-a-s-t forward to 2012 New York Mets closer, Frank Francisco, caused quite a stir before the opening game of this weekend's Subway ("unterban") Series with the New York Yankees.

"I can't wait to face those chickens," Francisco told The New York Post. "I want to strike out the side against them. I've done it before."

Though Francisco didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, his teammates have taken his comment and run with it. After Friday's game, which the Mets won 6-4, Tim Byrdak had a pal buy an $8 chicken from a poultry shop in Chintown as a good-luck ("mazldik") prank.

The chicken, said Byrdak, is the new team mascot. It is named "Little Jerry Seinfeld," after Kramer's cockfighting rooster in an episode of Seinfeld.

If you recall these two episodes: #142 "The Chicken Roaster", 1/14/96 Newman gets Kramer hooked on Kenny Roger's Roaster chicken.

#145 "The Little Jerry", 1/9/97 "The Little Jerry" Kramer gets a pet rooster and names him Jerry Seinfeld.

So, the chicken was kept in a cage at Citi Field, and was fed oatmeal, berries, and bread by the team chef. Byrdak admitted that "Jerry" had to leave "The Show" because, like crying, there are no chickens in baseball.

"Jerry" is now living comfortably at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. Yes, "the power of social media saved the bird's life today," said Byrdak. "This is one very lucky bird,"said Meredith Turner, a spokeswoman for the sanctuary. He can rest comfortably for the rest of his life and not worry about a deep fryer. Or "der oyvn" (the oven).
Marjorie Wolfe's favorite story: In 1992, Empire Kosher Poultry, Mifflintown, PA, said that it would send a discount coupon, plus a chicken soup recipe to anyone who mails in a cold medicine label. "Zayt gezunt! (So long! Be healthy!)


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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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