the schmooze

(1942 - )

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Judge Judy Sheindlin has been called the cranky bench mensch. "Judge Judy" premiered on Sept. 6, 1996, and the public's appetite for courtroom "drame" (drama) seems to be insatiable.

judge judyBiography Magazine (Dec. 2000) said, "Judge Judy is one sharp lady. Woe to any litigant who tries to slip something past her." Judy Sheindlin [nee Blum] of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, has signed a two-year contract extension to 2015, which will bring the run to "nayntsn"(19) years.

Shown below is a Yiddish Guide to Judge Judy:

"barimt" (famous)
Sheidlin says she can't deny that fame has changed her. "I try not to use a toothpick in public," says Sheindlin. "We don't take Sweet'n Lows from restaurants anymore. I don't stuff dinner rolls into my pocketbook."

"bukh" Judge Judy wrote "Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever" and "Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining."

"egoistish" (egotistic)
Larry Lyttle said of the Judge, "Judy's not a diva. She's a cultural icon, but she's opinionated, confrontational, and she has an enormous ego."

"eyferzikhtik" (jealous)
Judge Judy has no patience for a woman who said that after two enhancement surgeries, her breasts were uneven and she needed a third procedure. After a "privat" (private) viewing in her chambers, Judge Judy said to the plaintiff, "I'm jealous!" She continued, "At my age, I don't look so closely anymore--even, not even--I'm just happy I have them."

"heym" (home)
Sheindlin lives in a 24,000 square-foot house on 23 acres in Connecticut.

"heypekh" (opposite/reverse)
Judge Judy says that her show is the antithesis of Jerry Springer. She says, "Jerry Springer encourages people to show off their filthiest laundry, to misbehave. I scrupulously avoid doing that. I cut them off."

"idiot" (idiot)
Judge Judy seems to convey "di yedie" (the message) that at least one of the parties being represented on her show is an idiot...and there's always a tongue- lashing.

"khinukh" (education)
Judy graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn. She has a B.A. degree in government [1963], and a law degree from New York Law School [1965], graduating "ershter" (first) in her otherwise all-male class.

"khropen" (to snore)
Sheindlin admits to having a "snoring room" in her Connecticut home. She said, "Actually we've had a snoring room since we moved out of a studio apartment. It's just civilized."

"kinder" (children)
Judy had two children with her first husband, attorney, Ronald Levy. (They were divorced after 12 years of marriage.) Her second husband had three children: Adam, Jamie, and Jonathan. The two families blended easily, according to Judy.

"kinder" [in the workplace]
Judge Judy said, "I'm big on bringing children to the workplace...But 'Take Your Daughters to Work' day...should be 'Take Your Children to Work.' Why? Because when mothers bring their sons to work, it can engender in those boys a sense of respect for women that they'll retain for the rest of their lives."

"kleyden" (attire)
Judge Judy will sometimes chastise participants, even audience members, for showing up in inappropriate clothing.

"kokhn" (to cook)
Judy jokes, "I cooked until the kids learned to say, 'We had that two days ago.'"

"lektsye" (lecture)
Judge Judy has told a strutting, macho guy about birth control: "Making a baby is easy. Dogs make babies...Being a parent is hard."

"man" (husband)
Judy Sheindlin is married to Jerry Sheindlin, a retired New York State Supreme Court Justice. They were married in 1978.

"noodnik" (pest)
Sheidlin uses many Yiddish words/expressions on her show. she has said, "I hate this schmutz" [about stage makup], and once told a 60 Minutes cameraman, "Does it say 'schmuck' here?" This was cleaned up, with "stupid." She once called Johnny Rotten of the punk rock group "the Sex Pistols," a "noodnik."

"redn" (to talk)
On the June 28, 2011, episode of "Judge Judy," we hear her say: . "I don't know what these two flakes have been doing for two years."
. "Look at me!"
. "I may be smaller; I'm more dangerous."
. "He may be afraid of you. I could eat you up for breakfast, if I wanted to."
. "Put on your listening ears."
. "I certainly don't want to be 20, if this is what you do for fun."

"reyakh" (odor)
In one episode, a plaintiff is seeking a $171 refund because two new made-in India jackets reek of a strange, foul odor. She sniffs Exhibit A and recalls how she once wore a new "sveter" (sweater) that caused a "kuzin" (cousin) to say, "I love you, but you smell like fish." Finding for the plaintiff, she tells the boutique owner defendant, "It certainly isn't Chanel No. 5."

"rikhter" (judge)
Judge Judith B. Sheindlin has the following judicial experience: 1982, Bronx Family Court Judge 1986-96 Supervising Judge, Manhattan Family Court

"shiker" (drunk/intoxicated)
Judge Judy once said to a 21-year-old woman accsed of knocking out the glass in her friend's car window while "happy": "Do you know how ugly a female drunk looks?

"shlepn" (to pull, to drag)
Sheindlin and her younger brother, David, vacationed at Catskills resorts with their parents. "My parents schlepped me around so I would meet some nice rich guy," says Sheindlin.

"skhires" (salary)
In 1993, while working as supervising Judge in Manhattan, Sheindlin earned $113,000. In 2011, Andrew Goldman reports that Sheindlin earns about $45 million a year. (She works only 5 days a month and that's about $865,000 a day.)

"shtern" (star)
Sheindlin's program earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"tate-mame" (parents)
Judy's parents were Murray and Ethel Blum. Sheindlin described her father, a dentist, as "the greatest thing since sliced bread" and her mother as "a meat and potatoes kind of gal." Ethel Blum died in 1980 at age 57 from colon cancer. Murray Blum died at age 70, in 1990, from an infection following heart-surgery.

"tsolung" (payment)
Both the plaintiff and the defendant on "Judge Judy" receive $100 for their appearances, as well as $35 a day, paid to them by the show. In addition, the airfare and hotel expenses of the litigants and other witnesses are covered by the show. Judge Judy caps judgments at $5,000.

"tumel" (noise)
Judge Judy's courtroom has "tumel." It is filled with feuding members of rock bands, actresses suing their "hor" (hair) colorists, and roommates who can't get along. Her remarks: "Look at me, sir!" "Liar, Liar, pants on fire." And as she taps a tapered fingernail on her forehead, she says, "Does it say 'stupid' here?'"

Her other Judyisms: "Sir, you want to say something to me? You sure you want to say something to me?" and "You mess around with me young lady, I'll wipe the floor with you. We follow each other?" My favorite: "I being in your position would never humiliate myself in front of 19 million people."

"Vos iz gut heint?" (What is good today?)
Many years ago, Judge Judy said, "I swore I would never get interested in ratings, but now I'm the first one on the phone to the office in the morning: 'How are the overnights?'"

"zekhtsik" (60)
A "60 Minutes" profile about Judge Judy Sheindlin produced an offer to do her own show in 1996.

"zikhorn" (memory)
Many plaintiffs who appear on "Judge Judy" seem to suffer from "Impedimentum memoriae"--a Henry Beard latin medical term for a "mental block that makes it hard to remember names."

"Punchin' Judy" by Barbara Lippert, New York Magazine, June 15, 1998
"Order! Order In Her Court," by Andrew Goldman, New York Magazine, June 26, 2011
"Chamber Made" by Jim Jerome, People Magazine, Sept. 27, 1999
"On TV's Docket: Judge Koch v. Judge Judy," interview by Jan Hoffman, New York Times, Dec. 29, 1992
"Biography Magazine, December, 2000


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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

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