the schmooze
*The Yiddish word for red is "royt"
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

When my grandson, Shane, was born 12 years ago, his greatgrandmother, Dorothy, tied a "royt" ribbon to his crib to prevent the evil peer. A red ribbon was also painted on the wall of his "shloftsimer" (bedroom). The "royt" ribbon is sometimes referred to as "royt bendles."

The color red is significant within Jewish history. It was one of the items necessary for the building of the original Temple. Red thread and dye were used to make fabric; the red thread came from a type of "vorem" (worm).

"Royt" has dual symbolism. On one hand, it's the color of fire and blood. In direct contrast, "royt" is used for "STOP" signs throughout the world today. The red rose is also the symbol of love and fidelity.

In 1938, law required Jewish passports to be stamped with a large red "J."

For me, the most moving image in Steven Spielberg's movie, "Schindler's List" is the little "meydl" in the "royt mantel/mantl" (red coat). Who can forget the little blonde tot, overlooked by the German troops, who wanders alone amid the horror and "panik"? Her red coat draws the moviegoer to her even when she is but one of a "hundert" people in a wide camera shot.

A question: Why does Schindler identify with the girl? There's madness and chaos in "di gas" (the street). A woman is machine-gunned behind her. During the roundup, a Nazi "soldat" fires at a single-file lineup of men, killing several with one bullet. What a nightmare. Schindler sees the little girl in "royt" entering one of the " leydik" (empty) apartment buildings. There she climbs the stairs and crawls under a bed for cover in a ransacked room.

The girl in "royt" represents the purity, the innocence, walking unnoticed through the Nazis; she witnesses their every " farbrekhn" (crime).

An individual "korbn" (victim)--one little girl in "royt"--touches him in a way the huge numbers make unreal. It is easy to get lost in numbers. This one "kind" is a symbol of ALL the 6 "milyon" victims, exposed to ruthless slaughter. Each was an individual, who had dreams, who had a life, who had "mishpokhe" (family).

Thirty-five years later Supreme Court Judge Gaviel Bach was questioning Dr. Martin Foldi, a survivor of Auschwitz. He spoke about the selection process at the " tsug" (train) station in the shadows of the " Arbeit Macht Frei" signs at Auschwitz Foldi told how he and his "zun" went to the right, while a "tokhter" and his wife went to the left. HIs little daughter wore the red coat.

Foldi ends his testimony with the chilling phrase, "I never saw them again." Judge Bach became frozen and was unable to continue. All he could do was to think about his own daughter who he had by chance just bought a "royt" coat.

in 1993, the U. S. Postal Service released a red ribbon stamp with the caption "AIDS Awareness."

Nancy Reagan consistently wore very expensive designer clothing while she was First Lady, strongly favoring the color red.

Nancy Pelosi wore a flimsy red cashmere wrap instead of a coat to the White House in near freezing Washington...and Allison Hantschel said, "I personally don't care if Nancy Pelosi wears a taxidermied chicken on her head and belly dance bells on her ankles as long as she keeps pushing for raises in the minimum wage and an end to the war in Iraq."

it's a tradition for the women in the legislature to wear red on the first day of session. Reps. Kelly Skidmore, and Priscilla Taylor were decked out in red suits. Reps. Susan Bucher and Shelly Vana, wore darker attire. Vana said, "I've never worn red. I just wear what I want to. Call me crazy."

Vogue Magazine (August 2006) said, "Red is the new black...after the black and white 1990's, after the neon brights of 2002-4, red looks sophisticated and new."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in New Jersey, teamed up with the member/dealers of the N. J. Coalition of Automotive Retailers to "TIE ONE ON FOR SAFETY." (From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, motorists are asked to tie a red ribbon to a visible place on their " oytomobile." This symbolizes a motorist's pledge to drive safely and sober during the holiday season.)

For this mother and "bobe"/"bobbeh," however, "der kolir" red will always represent that one little girl dressed in "royt" in Schindler's List.

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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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