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Yiddish Words Defined

What Does Farblunget (Farblondjet) Mean?
Just as a person may become farblunget during the course of a trip, a soul may blondje in its life journey on earth.
What Does Mamash Mean?
If your daughter cooks the most delicious chicken soup and kneidelach, you can tell her, "that was mamash geshmak (tasty).”
What Does Oy Gevalt Mean?
It is perfectly normal to say, “Oy gevalt, my cake flopped again!” even though there is no violence and not much of an emergency.
What Does Tsuris Mean?
When a person is beset by troubles you can say that they are af tsaros.
What Is Schmaltz?
In the parlance of American entertainment, which was built on the foundation of Yiddish theater, schmaltz came to refer to drippy, over-the-top dramatization.
What Is a Balabusta?
The balabusta can host 20 guests for Shabbat dinner in an immaculately clean home, while keeping her kids entertained and well-behaved.
What Does
Whenever you feel like life is spinning out of control and metaphoric shpilkes begin to appear on your seat, remember that G‑d is right there at your side.
What Does
Nothing is simple in Yiddish, and even the simplest vort takes on the most delightful meanings.
What Does
You can call your little niece a shayne punim, and also tell her that you miss her dearly and cannot wait to kiss her shayne punim on your next visit.
What Does
If your nephew has a geshmak in cooking, you can confidently tell him that the food he made was simply geshmak.
What Is a
The shtiebel is a sort of synagogue, and it comes with its own color, character and cultural nuances.
What Is the Meaning of
Out of the churning depths of the balagan comes the serenity of Shabbat
What Does
Nachas, joy from our children and grandchildren, is among the sweetest pleasures a Jew can hope for.
What Is a
In Yiddish, the word mach means both “do” and “make.”
What Does
Are you plotzing to know what this word means?
What Is a
The kids, who are the guardians of our faith, are still delighted by the simple pleasure of a tchotchke.
What Does
One may refer to cohorts in shameful activity as shander bander.
What Is a
The Yiddish word for “expert,” maven (or mayven), is derived from the Hebrew word mayvin (מבין), which means “understands.”
What Is
The mourners typically gather in a single home to observe shiva together.
What Does
It’s an ancient Jewish tradition, dating back to Abraham himself.
What Is a
Anyone can be a shadchan. Just make the suggestion. Even if it does not work the first time, keep on trying.
What Does
“Please bentch me that I should ace this test.”
What Is a
Despite the social challenges that a mamzer faces, he is recognized as a full member of the Jewish nation and able to achieve spiritual greatness.
What Does
You can also halt (hold) a shmues, or even chap (catch) a shmues with them.
What Is
Oy! That joke was schmutzik!
What Does
All humor aside, Jewish communities have historically done the honorable work of accommodating and supporting schnorrers with dignity.
What Is a
“On Yom Kippur, the synagogue was so stuffy, I was schvitzing buckets.”
What Are
All About Matzo Ball Soup and Kneidelach
Served in chicken soup, matzo balls are dumplings made of matzo meal (ground matzo), egg, oil, water and flavoring
What Does
Klutz is Yiddish for “piece of wood,” and refers to a person who is clumsy.
What Does
Yahrzeit refers to the anniversary (on the Hebrew calendar) of the date of a person’s passing.
What Does
Treif is the Yiddish word that means “unkosher.”
What Does “Yarmulke” Mean?
The boring answer is that it is just the generic Slavic word for “skullcap,” which Eastern-European Jews borrowed from their non-Jewish neighbors
What Does
“Goniff” is Hebrew and Yiddish for “thief,” and has come to refer to anyone who is a swindler, a cheat or just plain dishonest.
What Does
Meshuga means “crazy” in Yiddish. A person who is meshuga is called a meshuganer.
What Does
Get schlepped in as we tackle this Yiddish word!
What Does
Both meanings of the Yiddish word chazer—“pig” and “review”—have their source in the Hebrew language.
What Does
Many see this word is a built-in insult. It’s really anything but.
What Does
This Yiddish word (of Polish provenance) has taken on meanings in various areas of Jewish life.
What Does
It's based on the Yiddish word heim, which means “home,” it describes things that are homey or familiar.
What Is a Shtetl? The Jewish Town
The beginnings of shtetl life go back hundreds of years, to before the 17th century.
What Does
The first is biblical hebrew, the second Aramaic
What Is a
Consciously or sub-consciously, we all identify as "human." Does that inspire us to strive higher, to be a mentsch? Or does it allow us to relax our standards, recognizing that we're "only human"?
What Does
What exactly is “glatt”? Is it Yiddish for “super-kosher”? And how does one receive such a designation?
What Is Parve (Pareve)?
Jewish law does not allow one to cook or consume meat together with milk products. Parve food, however, may be eaten together with both meat and milk.
What Is a L’chaim?
A blessing, a drink, an engagement party—it’s all that and more.
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