To schmooze is to “chat” or “converse.” This is an English mangling of the Yiddish word shmues (שמועס), which is apparently an adaptation of the Hebrew word shemuos (שמועות), “tidings.”

In Yiddish, this word is both a noun and a verb. So you can shmues with someone, and you can also halt (hold) a shmues, or even chap (catch) a shmues with them.

When Not to Schmooze

It’s often very tempting to schmooze with your neighbors in synagogue, especially during the breaks throughout the Torah reading. But speaking in shul (that’s Yiddish for synagogue) is a no-no. Instead, save your pent-up schmooziness for the post-prayer kiddush reception, when you can gab to your heart’s desire.


The plural of shmues is shmuessen. For much of the latter half of the 20th century there was a Jewish children’s magazine—published in a number of languages, including English, Yiddish and Hebrew—whose Yiddish-language version, Shmuessen mit Kinder un Yugent (“Conversations With Children and Youth”), was most commonly called Shmuessen.

The Mussar Shmuess (Schmooze)

In many yeshivahs, the lion’s share of the lecturing is a highly nuanced and intense parsing of the finer points of Talmudic teachings. However, in many (non-chassidic) schools there is the regular mussar shmues, in which a senior rabbi discusses issues pertaining to personal behavior, ethics and spiritual advancements (known as mussar, which literally means “rebuke”). In common parlance, when someone tells you off, you can say that they gave you a mussar shmues or mussar schmooze.