the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

*The Yiddish word for smart is "klug"

Two questions:

1. What human race has the most subserviant women?

Probably those situated in the middle east.

2. How should "der lerer" (the teacher) respond if a Muslim student gives a speech ("droshe") on why women should be subservient to men and some students take offense ("khet") and walk out?

"Der lerer" should ensure the students that it's NOT a UNIVERSAL belief and educate them on other religions

I've received several "elektronish posts" (e-mails) about Barbara Walters of 20/20, and wondered if the story they forwarded was factual or urban legend?

An urban legend is a secondhand story, told as true and just plausible enough to be believed. It spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor.

The story goes that Ms. Walters did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five ("finf") spaces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem happy ("gliklekh") to maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afgani woman and asked, "Why do you seem so happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?" The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and did not hesitate ("kvenklin zikh") to say, "Land mines."

In reality, Ms. Walters NEVER reported such a story. Perhaps it's a "bobe mayse" (old wive's tale).

According to folklorist, Barbara Mikkelson, a World War II version of the joke had British troops noting the changes in custom of an anonymous desert people where the women walked behind men and donkeys. (Note: The Yiddish word for donkey is "eyzl"). Three years of warfare later, the order of procession was reversed with the women at "der fornt" (the front). The secondary status of the women appeared to have improved, but in fact had not. They were now used to check for mines. The joke then resurfaced during the Vietnam War, and also during the Burmese conflict.

The moral of the story: No matter what language you speak or where you go, behind every man there's a "klug" woman (or maybe three!)

Although Marjorie Wolfe has a "hobn humor" (sense of humor), she wonders if we should be making jokes about the victimization of women, or ANYONE, at war.


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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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