the schmooze
The Yiddish word for apple is "epl."
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

We all know that an apple a day keeps "der dokter" (the doctor) away. And now we hear that 3 apples a day keeps "di vog" (the weight) away. Yes, the headlines read:


I recently learned a new expression:
"Apple picking." It's a noun meaning the snatching of a person's iPhone, iPad, or iPod. A used iPad or iPhone can fetch more than $400, according to Rolfe Winkler.

Yes, nabbing electronic devices isn't new. But lately it is growing "exponentially" according to a 2011 report from the New York Police Department. The lucrative secondhand market for today's niftiest handsets has produced an explosion in "Apple picking" by thieves. Note: In Yiddish a thief is a "ganev" and thievish is "gneyvish."

Stealing takes many forms. A woman wrote to Amy Dickinson ("Ask AMY") about an affluent friend who will order water at a restaurant, get a cup, and then serve herself soda from the "self-serve" soda fountain. She says that the more she ventures out in public, the more she sees people stealing drinks. (The writer has seen this happen at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida.)

The newspapers report that two men were caught stealing $10,000 worth of iPads and iPods on camera. They entered a Walmart, walked behind the electronics sale counter, and were captured on store surveillance video.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech calls a criminal, a racketeer, a robber a"gazlen." He writes, "A ganef is a dictionary-approved word for a thief. It doesn't have any of the harsh condemnation implicit in gazlen. A grandparent can say with a sly grin, "Oy meyn eynikel iz a ganef" (Oy, my grandchild is a thief). It's a thief's cleverness without his criminal intent. But a gazlen is evil. He's a mugger who accosts you and physically beats you if you don't hand over the money. Unlike a thief, he doesn't use his brains to get into your home when you're not around. That's why, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, he deserves no respect. (Source: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish" by Rabbi Benjamin Blech)

Pastor Alan Carr ( says that "Many are the lives that have been touched by theft. Millions of dollars are lost every year in this country over the thieft of goods and services. One estimate says that 1 out of every 52 shoppers carries something out of the supermarket for which they haven't paid...4 million people are caught shoplifting every day in America! What's really tragic is that only 10% of all shoplifters come from low incomes. 70% are middle class and 20% are classified as wealthy."

Carr continues: "One new hotel reported that in their 10 months of operation, they lost 38,000 spoons, 18,000 towels, 355 silver coffee pots, 1,500 silver finger bowls, and 100 Bibles to thieves....Regardless of the reason, stealing is wrong!."

Carr reminds us that employee theft costs companies billions of dollars every year. According to USA Today, 48% of all American workers took something from an employer last year. This includes taking kickbacks, falsifying time records, wasting time while at work, etc.

He tells this story:
Many years ago a young lad in a small village was working in a general store when a man entered and ordered some cloth. Observing that the owner of the establishment wasn't there, the customer suggested the boy cheat a little and give him an extra yard or two. "It'll be all right, son," he said. "No one will ever know about it. Your master isn't in." Looking somewhat stunned, the youngster quickly replied, "Oh, but you're mistaken sir. My Master is always in! You see, I'm a Christian."

And the final story from Alan Carr:
One Sunday morning, Charles Finney preached a message entitled "The Sin of Borrowing Things And Not Returning Them." He said, "When I went to my toolshed yesterday with some men on hand to do some work, I found it practically empty. President Mahan had borrowed my plow and never sent it back. Professor Morgan had sent for my spade and I haven't seen it since. Deacon Beecher has had one of my monkey wrenches for so long a time that the memory of man cannot recall how long ago it was borrowed. What does it mean? It means that there are some among the best of us such a carelessness concerning our fundamental everyday obligations." The sermon was extremely effective. The next morning before dawn, one neighbor trying to bring back a workhorse had to be rescued from Finney's dog. All the rest of the morning, there was a steady stream of the neighbor's kids bringing back borrowed tools. They even returned things that were not Finney's.
Marjorie Wolfe's favorite story about honesty--or lack of honesty--as told by the late Sam Levenson.

This story took place in the lobby of an unnamed hotel in the Catskills.

Desk clerk (to guest who is departing):

"Do a little exercise." "I don't do exercises. Too old."

"Just for the manager, make a little exercise. How can you go home and tell your friends you didn't make any exercise?"

"All right, one exercise I'll do."

"Good. You see your valises down on the floor? Lean over and touch them without bending your knees. That's the way. Gut! (Good!) Now, while you're down there, would you mind opening the valises and giving back the towels!"


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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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