the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The Yiddish word meaning to applaud is "aplordirn"

Golda Meir said, "Glorious bouquets and storms of applause are the trimmings which every artist naturally enjoys."

And, greeting a crowd of 100 supporters at a campaign stop, Joe Lieberman announced the poll results in an explosion of applause. Introducing his wife, he jokingly put down Clark. "One of the other candidates has Madonna,...I have Hadassah."

Audiences are usually expected to applaud after a performance, such as a musical "kontsert" (concert), "droshe" (speech) or play. In most western countries "oylem" (audience) members clap their "hents" (hands); the louder and longer "der tuml" (noise), the stronger the sign of approval.

A claque (French for "clapping") was an organized body of professional applauders in French theaters and opera houses who were paid by the performer(s) to create the illusion of an increased level of approval by the audience.

Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268, encouraged the congregation to applaud his preaching by waving linen cloths. Applause in church eventually fell out of fashion.

According to Heshy Fried ("Why don't orthodox Jews clap?"), even after a bar or bat mitzvah speech at shul, there's no round of applause." He asks, "Isn't clapping so much better than a couple of 'yasher koyachs' from the rear of the shul or hall?" (Note: "yasher koyach" means "Well done!")

I recently read that in the Mayanot Shul in Yerushalayim, the congregants clap for "altsding" (everything), and especially during davening. By the way, hidden in the Mayanot Shul is the largest Chanukah Menorah in Jerusalem--and possibly the entire land of Israel. It was built with over 5000 pieces of Lego by the children of Jerusalem.

And when Bet Am, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Westchester, NY, was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire, the con- gregants marched into the synagogue-- which smelled of new paint--and erupted into full-throated song, singing in Hebrew and clapping.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar [] e-mailed me the following comments:

"When accompanying singing, clapping is allowed on Shabbos. But stand-alone clapping is not done on Shabbos.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg forwarded this statement to me:

The Mishnah expressly says that it is forbidden to clap on Shabbat or Yom Tov because it might bring someone to make a musical instrument, which is a forbidden act. However, it is common practice by all Chassidim to clap hands when singing on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

Rabbi Kevin Solomon, Cong. Beth Hallel, located in Roswell, GA, wrote, "Periodically, we also clap after someone does a great job. However, in these cases, we are really clapping to the Lord, for the great job of the person. It serves to edify the person, also, which is a double blessing before the Lord."

And, finally, at one of Victor Borge's (1909-2000) first American auditions, he performed one of his (now) classic bits: He began playing a "modne" (strange) waltz which seemed to make no musical sense. Then he paused to turn the sheet music over, and began playing it again, nodding at the audience. When played right side up, the music was revealed to be the "Blue Danube."

But those conducting the audition DIDN'T GET IT. "We can't use you," they told Borge. "You don't even use music." The humor was lost on them.



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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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