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

NachesPride, 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