the schmooze
*In Yiddish, a "gopl" is a fork
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

A "yung dame" (young lady) who had been diagnosed with "rak" (cancer) and given a short time to live, sent for her "Rav" (rabbi). She said, "Lomir redn takhlis" (Let's talk with purpose.)

They discussed the Yiddish proverb, " Takhrikhim makht men on keshenes" (Burial shrouds are made without pockets), and the fact that she had already pre-paid her funeral expenses at Gutterman's Funeral Chapel. (About 21 million Americans age 50 and over have prepared some or all of their funeral and/or burial expenses.) She wished to spare grieving " di mishpokhe" (the family) the added stress of making last-minute decisions about the wheres, whens and how...and how much's--of the funeral.

Her requests--from a "shporevdik" (thrifty) person--were rather typical. With funerals often costing $10,000, she wanted a plain pine box; no "fancy-shmancy" funeral. (At Gutterman's one diehard fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers had made plans to be buried with a baseball bat in his casket. He wanted to make sure it was a wooden bat, because, in Jewish law, the casket can't have any metal components.)

She discussed which rabbi was to perform the service, which prayers she wanted read, and "di klayder" (the clothing) she wanted to be buried in. She requested that all donations be given to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass.

The "dame" then told the rabbi there was one more very "vikhtik" (important) thing. She said, "I want to be buried with a wooden 'gopl" in my right 'hant' (hand)."

By way of explaining her "bakoshe" (request), she said her "bobe" told the story of attending many socials and dinners but she always remembered that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, "Keep your gopl." It was her favorite part because she knew something " beser" (better) was coming--something like "epl" pie, Mashuga Nuts, Halvah, Ebinger's blackout cake, or Rugelach.

The "yung dame" then told the rabbi that when people knew that she was buried with a"gopl" in her hand, they would wonder why. She asked that an explanation be given; she wanted to tell them, "KEEP THE FORK/KEEP THE GOPL, the best is yet to come."

The story goes on to say that the next time you reach down for your "gopl," let it remind YOU that the best is yet to come.


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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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