the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

4 essential Yiddish words:
"der diment"
"dos tsirung"
"dos fingerl"
the diamond
diamond (a Samuel Rosenbaum definition)
the jewelry
ring (jewelry)

In Philip Roth's 2006 book, "Everyman," we read about Everyman's Jewelry Store.  "It's a big deal for working people to buy a diamond, no matter how small.  The wife can wear it for the beauty and she can wear it for the status.  And when she does, this guy is not just a plumber--he's a man with a wife with a diamond.  His wife owns something that is imperishable.  Because beyond the beauty and the status and the value, the diamond is imperishable.  A piece of the earth that is imperishable, and a mere mortal is wearing it on her hand."

Judge Judy Sheindlin says "denial" is when your fiance asks you for a loan so he can buy you an engagement ring, and you give it to him.

Rabbi Marc Gellman (The God Squad) said, "Bringing the one you love a cup of tea that was not asked for counts more than bringing home a diamond ring."

There's two interesting stories about diamonds:

Sitting next to a well-known socialite, Ruthie Plotnik, at a large UJA fundraiser, was a newcomer to the glittering scene The gentleman couldn't take his eyes off the magnificent diamond she was wearing. He couldn't restrain imself; he had to comment on it.

"Looks like a pear shaped diamond, about 3 cts H+/V52.  Set in a platinum mounting with two tapered baquettes..a .50 cts tw. Am I correct?"

"Pretty close...and I bought it on 47th Street, in the heart of New York's diamond district."

"One of those simple traditional Yiddish blessings (mazel and brucha) and handshake?"

"Yes.  And it's the Plotnik diamond."

"Tell me more."

"Well," she replied, "unfortunately it has a curse attached to it."

"A curse!" he exclaimed.  "What curse?"

"Mr. Plotnik"

Story 2.

Liz Taylor, film actress, who had a fabulous diamond ring, drew the notice of Princess Margaret.  She remarked, "That's a bit vulgar."  Miss Taylor persuaded the princess to try on the ring. "There, it's not so vulgar now, is it?" she said.

Do you remember Carol Channing, who starred in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"? Several songs became popular classics; one in particular, was "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."

In a New York Times article (Oct. 25, 2008), Nadine Brozen writes about what happens when an engaged couple breaks up--who gets the ring?

There was the case of Sharon Bush and Gerald Tsai, the billionaire investor who has since died.  In Dec. 2006, Mr. Tsai gave Ms. Bush (the former wife of Neil Bush, a brother of the President) an 11-carat canary-diamond ring he bought for $243,040 at Saks.  In January, the engagement was called off, and when Ms. Bush did not return the ring, Mr. Tsai filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking its return.

The lawyer:  Raoul Felder.  He stated that the ring was not an engagement ring but a gift ("matone"), and therefore did not have to be returned.  Felder said, "I can't understand how a man is not embarrassed to ask for his ring back. It always amazes me what happened to chivalry."

In recent years courts have almost always held that the ring goes back to the buyer, no matter the circumstances.  What's the premise?  The engagement ring is a conditional gift--the condition being that a marriage take place.  If it doesn't, the agreement is rendered null and void.

So, as we approach the holiday season, "Vos iz der untershte shure?"  (What's the bottom line?)  Will retailers sell diamonds? Neal Goldberg, the chief executive of the Zale Corporation, says, "People are going to shop for the holidays.  Unless you believe Christmas ("Nitl") isn't going to happen.  I believe people will shop...Yes, we will sell diamonds."


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe believes that "a good husband meets a marital crisis with a firm hand--full of candy, flowers, and diamonds."


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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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