the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Hyman is a very "raykh" (rich) and successful businessman.

As it is coming up to his wife, Rivka's birthday, he decides to buy her a really "spetsyel" birthday present.  So he tells his "shofer" (chauffeur)  to take him to the best art shops in Manhattan.  He soon finds what he's looking for--a beautiful Rembrandt painting and he buys it without a moment's hesitation.

As soon as Hyman gets back home, he opens his front door and shouts, "Rivka, Rivka, have I got a Rembrandt for you!"

To which Rivka replies, "Efsha (maybe/ perhaps) it will make a skirt?"

The Yiddish word for birthday is "geboyrn-tog."  Former Mayor of N.Y.C. [1978-1989] is turning 85.  The law firm of Bryan Cave has invited a few friends at a birthday party at the St. Regis.  "De farbetung" (the invitation) list includes Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, "der birger-myster" (the mayor), Mike Bloomberg, Tina Brown, Mario Cuomo, Pete Hamill, Al D'Amato and Archbishop, Timothy Dolan.

Shown below is a Yiddish list of trivia about Ed Koch.  Enjoy!

Koch says that he is particularly concerned about anti-semitism and wants to bring Jews and Catholics closer together.

"betn mekhile" (to apologize [quote on being blamed for everything] "So many people want me to be apologetic I'm beginning to refer to myself as Mayor Culpa."

Bintel Brief
Ed Koch served as an advice columnist for the Forward's Bintel Brief column.  He spoke candidly about his bout with "dershlogn" (depression) and responded to a question from an ailing elderly lady who felt her life was no longer worth living.

Bloomingdale's model
In 1986, Koch was featured in a full-page ad for Bloomingdale's.  It showed a photo of a "yung" Koch canoeing.  He said, "When I was 17, I wanted to look like a preppy, even though I wasn't attending a preppy school and I also had hair when I was 17.  Today I still like to dress informally, although my hairline has changed.  (Koch's $2,500 fee was split among 5 charities.)

"bokher" (bachelor) Koch is a lifelong bachelor.

"bukh" (book)
Koch says that he's through writing books. "After eight autobiographies and two children's books, I don't think I have anything left in me," he said.

[to a group of new "kaledz" graduates] "The fireworks begin today.  Each diploma is a lighted match.  Each one of you is a fuse."

"dire' (apartment)
[quote on keeping his (then) $291.71 rent controlled apartment in Greenwich Village] "Why shouldn't I keep it?  How do I know what rents will be like when I leave office?"

"dray (3) Koch Yiddish-isms (1) "They're making a big tsimmes out of it." (2) "Stop with your megillah." (3) "You don't agree?  Well, gezinterheidt."
Note:  "Zay gezunt" means "good-bye/be healthy.

"egoistish" (egotistic)
Clyde Haberman ("Koch at 75:  More Chapters In the Works," 12/10/99) wrote, "Don't misunderstand, Mr. Koch could be amply petty.  He was often insulting and unbelievably self-absorbed."  Koch replied, "I've got plenty of ego."

"elter birger" (senior citizen)
[quote to the president on old folks] "Do you want to be known as the president who closed senior citizen centers?"

Koch's tombstone will quote the last words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded in 2002 by Islamic terrorists:  "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."

"feh!" (it stinks)
One of Mayor Koch's favorite epithets is "Feh!"

"farbrekhn" (crime)
[Koch went to a senior citizen center in the Bronx and was immediately asked about crime and what he intended to do about it.] (quote) "Crime is terrible. A judge I know was mugged this week and do you know what he did?  He called a press conference and said the mugging would in no way affect his judicial decisions in matters of that kind."

The elderly woman stood up and shouted, "Then mug him again!"

"fotografye" (photograph)
Koch has his photograph hanging in practically every Jewish deli in N.Y. C.  According to David Sax ("Save The Deli"), "Mr. Koch, like most savvy politicians, learned early on the political value of eating a pastrami sandwich."  He said, "It's a Jewish statement, and New York is an ethnic town.  Every politician does it...Our culture shouldn't be defined by something that we were fifty years ago.  Jews are living in a golden era in the United States."

"fliplats" (airport)
Koch, who was raised for 10 years in Newark, NJ, said that he would not mind if Newark Airport was renamed "E.I.K.  Kind of rhymes with J.F.K."

"frage" (question)
Koch is famous for asking residents, "How'm I doin'?"

"broygez" (angry)
Koch was angered by placards that sprouted in the 1977 mayor campaign that said, "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo."  (Mr. Cuomo has always disclaimed any responsibility.)

"galkrankayt" (gallbladder)
In 2009, Koch underwent gallbladder surgery.  And on June 19, he underwent a quadruple bypass and valve replacement.

"hatslokhe" (success)
(quote) "I am living proof that someone from the South Bronx can make it."

"hock him a chinkek"/hok a tchynick
(quote on what he is going to do about transit problems)
"I have asked the Governor for more state assistance and he is resisting me, and I am gonna hock him a chinkek.  Does everybody know what that means?  Drive him crazy." Note:  "hok a tchynick" also means "don't talk my ear off." 

And, acccording to Ruth & Bob Grossman ("The Chinese-Kosher Cookbook), "hok mee noh chy nick" is what Mom says when Irving tries to explain why he was kicked out of Hebrew School."

(quote) "If New York City is the Big Apple, you could describe Jerusalem as the Apple of God's eye."

Jewish {on being Jewish]
(quote) "I'm very conscious of being Jewish."

"kandidat" (candidate)
In Sept., 2008, Koch called Sara Palin a "plucky, exciting candidate," but also said, 'She scares the hell out of me."

"khasene gehat" (married)
[quote on being married]
"The only times when I feel a wife would be important is when other people I'm entertaining have wives."

"lebn" (life)
(quote after being hospitalized) "I wouldn't say I'm a new man - I'm an 84-year-old retread who's been given a second life.  Life is good, God is good - and I'm enjoying every minute of it."

[on nasty people in his audience] "In every community there is a meshugana."

"mishpokhe" (family)
(quote on Caroline Kennedy's potential senate appointment)
"When you look at her, and you know what the Kennedy's are capable of and you know where she comes from--think of the DNA."

"nekrolog" (obituary)
Koch said, "I'm not morbid.  How many 84-year-olds do you know who are as active as I am?  Not many.  And how many 84-year-olds do you see in obituaries?  A lot.  But I believe I have another five years."

"nisht" (not)
Koch has said that he is not:  a jock, a genius, a prosecutor, a scientist, a populist, or a nut.

Noo Yawker
(quote) "I said to be a New Yorker you have to live here six months and if at the end of the six months you work faster, talk faster, think faster, you're a New Yorker."

"politsyant" (policeman/caop)
(quote in answer to a request that more cops patrol the Chassidc areas of Brooklyn] "There are only six thousand police on patrol throughout the city on any given day.  They can't all be in Borough Park."

"redn" (to talk)
While in office, Koch once said, "...when I talk (the same) to all people, white and black, Hispanics and Asians alike, most people in those groups appreciate it; as opposed to being talked to differently and then finding that he talks nice but he doesn't do nice.  I talk straight and I do nice."

Koch regrets his decision to shutter Sydenham Hospital in Harlem, both to save money and because of complaints about the quality of health care there.  (He saved $9 million)

"shpitol" (hospital)
Koch checked into Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital for his angioplasty and aortic value replacement.  He said, "This is one hospital where the food is good."

"shtarbn" (to die)
In 2009, Koch said, "We all die.  Whenever he or she wants me, I go."  [He had no desire to linger.]  "I had a conversation with God:  'Take me totally or don't take me.  No salami tactics...I want to die at my desk."

"rikhter" (judge)
Judge Edward Irving Koch sat on the bench of "The People's Court."  Rahel Musleah (Hadassah Magazine, May 1998) wrote that "he mediates cases about beaded dresses that cannot be dry-cleaned, faulty hair weaves, and dysfuncti.onal relationships...he displays the same sharp intelligence sardonic humor, unabashed candor and sense of fainess that were hallmarks of his 12 years as mayor of New York."

Mayor Koch had a small sign on a stand.  It read, "If you say it can't be done, you're right.  You can't do it."  A few years later, Koch switched to a sign based on a moving hymn he had heard at several "politsey" (police) funerals:  "Be Not Afraid." And still later, a sign read:  "The Best is Yet to Be."

"vaser" (water) conservation
In 1985 Koch told Maralyn Matlick (NY Post) some of his own personal water-saving tips:  Hizzoner said, "What I'm preaching, I'm also practicing.  I shave with a bowl of water and I brush my teeth the same way. {He also goes to the gym every day, showers, and reduces the water in the shower.]  He's no drip!

Village Voice
In "Mayor the Musical," a glossary of names and terms (for out-of-towners) was included in the Playbill.  Under VILLAGE VOICE, we read, "A weekly paper filled with anti-Koch articles, listing and futon ads."

Wolpe, Lenny
Wolpe played Mayor Koch in the 1985 show,
"Mayor The Musical."


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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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