the schmooze


*The Yiddish word meaning safe/unharmed is "besholem."
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York


Sarah Bernhard has been called the "Empress of Acerbity." She's known for
her relationship with Madonna, her role on
Roseanne, and for saying what she thinks.

Shown below is a Yiddish guide to this

"atlayen" (to borrow from)
"I don't have any battle with Kathy Griffin
at all. I simply said she has borrowed
[material] from me all along the way, and
she'd be the first to admit it."
(Bernhard quote)

"bagazh" (luggage)
Bernhard has a strange love for luggage.
She confesses, "Buying luggage is a passion
with me. There's something very seductive
about luggage.

"beybi" (baby)
At age 43, Bernhard had a baby daughter, Cicely Yasin, a Moroccan name. Her Hebrew name is Rachel. When asked why she became a mother at this age, she
replied, "I just thought it would be fun to
have a little sidekick of my own." (Questions about conception and father are
met with no comment.)

"bubkes" (nothing) Literally, "beans"
In 1988, Bernhard appeared in the off-
B'way show, "Without You I'm Nothing" at
the Orpheum Theatre.

"bukh"/"bookh" (book)
Bernhard wrote the 1998 book titled, "May
I Kiss You on the Lips, Miss Sandra?" and the 1993 book of essays and stories, "Love,
Love, and Love."

"geboyrn" (born)
Bernhard was born on June 6, 1955, in Flint,
Michigan. She grew up there and later
lived in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"mishpachah" (family/extended family)
"My family wasn't the Brady Bunch. They
were the Broody Bunch."
(Bernhard quote)

"tsaytung" (newspaper) headlines
These were two actual headlines about Bernhard:

"Sandra Bernhard takes a shot at Kathy
Griffin and Talks Arnold Encounter"
May 27, 2011
Note: Bernhard recalls being hit on by
Arnold Schwarzenegger when she was
"skinny as a stick." She says she's not
surprised he got caught cheating, just that
it took Maria Shriver so long to figure it

"Sandra Bernhard: Bristol Palin is such a
Bernhard is not a big booster of Sarah
Palin. She told Rob Shuter, "I heard that she's buying a house in Arizona, where she
belongs. With the rest of the trash."

Bernhard warned Palin to stay away from
the Old Testament. She said, "I certainly
wish Gov. Palin no harm. I'd just like her to
explain to me how she can hold such
outrageous views...and then go back to

"kinig" (king)
"komedie" (comedy)
In 1982, Bernhard starred with Robert DeNero in "The King of Comedy."

"kleyd" (dress)
Bernhard's idea of a good time is "kicking
the shoulder pads off Norma Kamali dresses."

"magazine" (magazine)
Bernard once posed nude for Playboy
magazine. Oy, such a "shande."

"manikur" (manicure)
In 1974, upon returning to the U. S. from Israel, Bernard began to work as a
manicurist-pedicurist at a Beverly Hills
salon. Her salon was frequented by stars like Dyan Cannon. Her experience of "waiting on people's farshtunkener feet" gave her plenty of material for her act.

Note: The Yiddish word "farshtinkener" (an
alternate spelling) means all stunk up/disgusting/abominable.

"modne" (strange/odd/peculiar/bizarre)
Bernhard introduced a Burt Bacharach act, claiming to be Burt's girlfriend. In a bizarre way she told "der oylem" (the audience) that she had just moved in with him after murdering his wife ("froy").

"ponim" (face)
Bernhard has been described as having
thick lips and a prominent "noz" (nose).
She said, "I did have a hang-up about my
lips when I was growing up. The kids called
them 'nigger lips' all the time. I didn't look
like anybody else, and that scared people."

"shpigl" (mirror)
"I love sleeping on a full-length mirror."
(Bernard quote)

"shpiln" (to perform/act)
Bernard's gimmick consisted of reading
fashion ads, straight from magazines, in a
voice which parodied the "ayz" (ice) cool
culture of the advertising world.

"shtick" (piece/prank)
When a heckler interrupted one of her
performances, Bernhard said, "What do you want, Billy Crystal shtick?...Bernhard detests the act of Ellen De Generes and Anne Heche's intensely public romance, calling it "shtick."

When Bernhard was performing in London,
she did a funny riff about the Russian-themed wedding of Joan Rivers's daughter.
Bernhard's take was that for authenticity
the bride should have been chased down the streets by Cossacks on horseback. John
Nathan (5/21/09) wrote that "it was one of
the funniest parts of a set but it went over
much of the London's audience's head."

"tate-mame" (parents)
"mishpokhe" (family)
Sandra had a typical upper-middle class
childhood ("kinderhayt"). She has two older brothers. Her father was
a proctologist; her mother was an abstract
artist ("kintsler"). Her parents were divorced after 38 years of marriage.

"vitslen zikh" (to joke)
Bernhard often made jokes at Jerry Lewis's
expense. "I saw him kick one of those kids
he was supposed to be helping."

"voyl" (nice/agreeable)
"Being nice is a weak emotion. It's not even
an emotion. It's just a weakness, period."
(Bernhard quote)

When Bernhard appeared in "Damn It!"
at Westbath Theater Center, she mentioned
John Denver, who was killed in a plane crash. A woman in the packed audience
said, "Be nice." With her upper lip curling
in derision, she shot back, "Be nice? Be
nice?!!! What is this, a Quaker meeting? Are we somewhere in Pennsylvania? Why
don't you go home and bake some oatmeal
cookies, honey."

"televisye" (TV)
In 1991 Bernhard was cast as Nancy Bartlett
on the hit sitcom, "Roseanne." She was one
of the first actresses to portray an openly
lesbian character on a American series TV.

"tsvantsik" (20)
Bernhard was 20 when she performed for
the first time. It was at "Ye Little Club" in
Los Angeles, and her act consisted mainly
of Bette Midler imitations.

"pisk" (loudmouth)
Bernhard appeared on "The View" in June of 2006. In a 7-minute segment, her commentary on race and politics incited two of the hosts to rage.

Yisroel" (Israel)
After high school, Bernhard spent eight months on an Israeli kibbutz. She then
moved to Los Angeles to study "shtime"


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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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