This is a modest attempt at interpreting a monumental language – a bit of English, Yiddish and Hebrew. Everyone has their own take on these words and a different pronunciation, so pick what you like! Hopefully this list will explain some of the terms in Menopause in Manhattan.
Ashkenazi – Jews originating from Eastern European
Balabusteh – Excellent homemaker, good cook
Bashert – Fated, in the cards
Bema – Raised platform in a synagogue, where the rabbi and cantor sit
Brit, Brit Milah, Bris – Circumcision of a Jewish baby boy, at eight days old
Bubie – Grandmother – the matriarch who loves her grandchildren with all her heart and wipes the shmutz off their little faces with her apron
Bubbemeiseh – A made up story, an old wives’ tale, something not true but often believed to be the emes.
Challah – Braided bread eaten on the Sabbath
Chasaneh – Wedding
Chazerai – Junk – the stuff you can do without, but don’t want to
Chupah – Canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during theirwedding ceremony.
Chutzpah – Nerve, guts, the sheer audacity
Dreck – Trash, crap, drivel
Emes – The truth and nothing but the truth, as in “As God is my witness…”
Farcockteh – Lousy, ridiculous, screwed up
Fress – Same as nosh but more serious – to eat a lot (and I mean A LOT). To make a total pig out of yourself (you should pardon the expression).
Gedilla – Big deal: as in “Oh come on, it’s okay, don’t make such a gedillah (big deal) out of it.”
Gesunteh: A nice healthy portion, a generous amount of something
Get – Jewish divorce, necessary to obtain according to Jewish law in order to remarry
Goldeneh Medina -The Golden Land, The Promised Land, referring to America as the dream place
Guteh Neshuma – A really good soul, someone who’s all about goodness
Hamsah – Palm-shaped (five fingers) amulet popular with Middle Eastern and North African Jews
Hock Me a Chineck – Bother like a whistling tea pot
Kine–Ahora – As in “pooh, pooh, pooh”, said to prevent bad luck
L’chayim – To Life! Said when clinking glasses and wishing for all good things
Nosh – verb: To pick at, to enjoy a small snack. noun: a little something to eat. When you hear “I’m not hungry, I’ll just nosh” watch out – your refrigerator is about to be emptied.
Mazal (Mazel) Tov: Congratulations! Great News! All the best!
Mensch: A really good person
Mishegoss – Craziness, a little bit of neurosis
Mishugah – Totally crazy, out of it
Mitzvah – Good deed
Mizrachim – Jews originating from North African countries. Comes from the word – mizrach meaning east
Moshav – Small village in Israel, at one time a cooperative farming unit
Motek – Sweetie-pie
Naches – Pride, joy, like what every Jewish mother expects from her children
Nu? – So? What about it? I’m waiting!
Nudnick: A person who is a pain in the butt
Nurishkeit – Total silliness
Oy, Oy Vey – “Oh no!” What a bummer.
Plotz, Plotzing: As in “Oy, I ate so much, I’m plotzing. I’m gonna die!” To burst, to split, to explode.
Rugelach – Crescent-shaped pastry, often made with cream cheese dough and filled with raisins, nuts, chocolate, cinnamon or fruit preserves
Sandak – Godfather, man given the honor of holding the baby at a circumcision, often the grandfather
Schlep: Also: shlepped, shlepper Verb: To lug, to be a burden, a downer Noun: a person who is a loser, a depressing sort
Schmateh – Rag, old ragged cloth or garment
Schmear – a spread, like cream cheese on a bagel
Shmendrick – Jerk, loser
Schmooze – Chat, hang loose and have a relaxed talk
Schmuck – Big dirt bag, idiot, contemptible person
Shmutz – Dirt, as in “I told you not to play in the mud and come home with that shmutz all over you.”
Sephardic – Jews originating from Spanish-speaking countries and often associated with Jews from Arab countries as well
Shabbat – Also known as Shabbos, Shabbes and The Sabbath. Oh come on, you don’t know what Shabbes means? And you call yourself a citizen of the world? It means Sabbath of course, observed from Friday sundown until one hour after sundown on Saturday.
Shabbat – The sabbath, Friday evening to Saturday night
Shalom Bayit – Peace inthe house, recommended for couples right before they divorce
Shidach, Shiduch – Match between two people for matrimonial purposes
Shiva – Seven days of mourning following the death of a Jewish person
Shmendrick: A jerk, loser
Shmooze, shmoozing – Relaxed talk, easy chit-chat
Shpiel: a long, complicated tale as in: “Don’t make such a shpiel out of what happened to you at the IRS office, just get to the point.”
Smicha – Ordination for a rabbi
Shtick – Routine, silliness
Shtup – Push, impolite word for quick, unimportant sex
Tchotchke – Doo-dad, decoration, disposable worthless bauble, often tacky
Tsouris – Problem, big pain in the ass
Tush – Backside
Tzimmes – Cooked carrots often made with honey, also used to express a big fuss over something
Yarmulke – Skullcap, kepah, worn by Jewish men
Yenta – Busybody, nosy person, also a match-maker
Zetz – Smack, slap