the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York
I'm reminiscing.  It's more than 60 years since I attended Hebrew school at Derech Emunoh Synagogue, a neo-Georgian structure which was located at 199 Beach 67th Street, Arverne, Queens, NY.  That architectural gem-- that drew 800 people on Saturday mornings--no longer exists.
Our beloved rabbi, Eugene Cohen, has passed away.

It was here that Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Panitz taught me to read Hebrew.   Girls did not celebrate with a Bat Mitzvah in those days; we graduated with a simple ceremony.  Cake, soda, and coffee!

I remember the lessons:

"Boker tov" (Good morning)
"Ken" (Yes)
"Lo" (No)
"Lo tov" (Not good)
"Metzuyan" (Excellent)
"Yeladiym" (boys)
"Shmi" (My name is...)
"Todah" (Thank you)

As I was searching the web, I came across a humorous piece  titled, "Abbott and Costello Learn Hebrew."  There's another version (in video) on the Itche Kadoozy show.  So, sit back and enjoy this "vunderlekh" Hebrew lesson:

ABBOTT:  I see you're here for your Hebrew lesson.

COSTELLO:  I'm ready to learn.

A:  Now, the first thing you must
     understand is that Hebrew and English
     have many words which sound alike, but
     they do not mean the same thing.

C:  Sure, I understand.

A:  Now, don't be too quick to say that.

C:  How stupid do you think I am - don't
     answer that.  It's simple - some words
     in Hebrew sound like words in English,
     but they don't mean the same.

A.  Precisely.

C:  We have that word in English, too.  What
     does it mean in Hebrew?

A.  No, no.  Precisely is an English word.

C:  I didn't come here to learn English, I
     came to learn Hebrew.  So make with the

A:  Fine.  Let's start with MEE.

C:  You.

A:  No, MEE.

C:  Fine, we'll start with you.

A:  No, we'll start with MEE.

C:  Okay, have it your way.

A:  Now, mee is who.

C:  You is Abbott.

A:  You don't understand.

C:  I don't understand?  Did you just say me
     is who?

A:  Yes I did.  MEE is who.

C:  You is Abbott.

A:  No, you misunderstand what I am saying.
     Tell me about MEE.

C:  Well, you're a nice enough guy.

A:  No, no.  Tell me about MEE!

C:  Who?

A:  Precisely.

C:  Precisely what?

A:  Precisely who

C:  It's precisely whom!

A:  No, MEE is who.

C:  Don't start that again - go on to
     something else.

A:  All right.  Hu is he.

C:  Who is he?

A:  Yes.

C:  I don't know.  Who is he?

A:  Sure you do.  You just said it.

C:  I just said what?

A:  Hu is he.

A:  Precisely.

C:  Again with the precisely!  Precisely who?

A:  No, precisely he.

C:  Precisely he?  Who is he?

A:  Precisely!

C:  And what about me?

A:  Who.

C:  Me, me, me!

A:  Who, who, who!

C:  What are you, an owl?  Me!  Who is me?

A:  No, hu is he!

C:  I don't know, maybe he is me!

A:  No, hee is she!

C:  (STARE AT ABBOTT)  Do his parents
     know about this?

A:  About what?

C:  That she is he!

A:  No, you've got it wrong - he is she!

C:  Then who is he?

A:  Precisely.

C:  Who?

A:  He!

C:  Me?

A:  Who!

C:  He?

A:  She!

C:  Who is she?

A.  No, hu is he.

C:  I don't care who is he.  I want to know
     who is she?

A:  No, that's not right.

C:  How can it not be right?  I said it.  I was
     standing here when I said it, and I
     know me.

A:  Who.

C:  Who?

A.  Precisely!

C:  Me!  Me is that he you are talking
     about.  He is me!

A:  No, hee is she!

C:  Wait a Minute, wait a minute!  I'm
     trying to learn a little Hebrew, and
     now I can't even speak English.  Let me

A:  Go ahead.

C:  Now first You want to know me is

A:  Correct.

C:  And then you say who is he.

A:  Absolutely.

C:  And then you tell me he is she.

A & C:  Precisely.

C.  Now look at this logically.  If me is who,
     and who is he, and he is she, don't it
     stand to reason that me is she?

A:  Who?

C:  She!

A:  That is he!

C:  Who is he?

A & C:  Precisely.

C:  I have just about had it.  You have me
     confused. I want to go home.  You know
     what I want?  Ma!

A:  What.

C:  I said Ma.

A:  What.

C:  What are you deaf?  I want Ma!

A. What!

C:  Not what, who!

A.  He!

C:  Not he!  Ma is not he!

A:  Of course not!  Hu is he!

C:  I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't care.
     I don't care who is he, he is she, me is
     who,  ma is what.  I just want to go
     home now and play with my dog.

A:  Fish.

C:  Fish?

A.  Dog is fish.

C:  That's all.  I'm outta here.   


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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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