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Yiddish Quotes


"Yiddish for gall, nerve, arrogance-whatever" - Howard Fast

"Romanian-Yiddish cooking has killed more Jews than Hitler" - Zero Mostel

"Obviously you have lost possession of your Yiddish cup." - Neil Bauman

"To me the Yiddish language and the conduct of those who spoke it are identical." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"I am determined to give the Yiddish language a fighting chance to survive." - Theodore Bikel

"Well, I like how people talk. I like language. You know, Linda Richman spoke in Yiddish." - Mike Myers

"The songs I love to sing are story songs, from Yiddish songs to Tom Waits." - Mandy Patinkin

"Yiddish is the voice of exile, the tongue of ghettos, but I'll shed a tear when it joins ancient Greek and dead Latin. For gossip and insult, you can't beat Yiddish." - Linda Barnes

"One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the Yiddish spirit expressions of pious joy, lust for life, longing for the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation of human individuality." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"My sister and I used to act as maids and waitresses at my great aunt and uncle's cocktail parties, which were very much sort of retired, minor stars of the Yiddish theater and the Yiddish opera." - Amy Bloom

"It is a fact that the classics of Yiddish literature are also the classics of the modern Hebrew literature." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"He was scared they were moving into the neighborhood. They're coming, they're coming. The Yiddish, they're coming" - Mel Brooks

"Even though I loved the song [My Yiddish Momme] and it was a sensational hit every time I sang it, I was always careful to use it only when I knew the majority of the house would understand Yiddish. However, you didn't have to be a Jew to be moved by 'My Yiddish Momme.' 'Mother' in any language means the same thing." - Sophie Tucker

"I heard Yiddish when my father's family came to the house, which was as seldom as my mother could arrange it." - Joseph Greenberg

"Well, you have children so you know: little children little troubles, big children, big troubles - it's a saying in Yiddish. Maybe the Chinese said it too." - Grace Paley

"Donald Trump did his usual softball interview on "Fox News" where the interviewer agreed with Trump that using that Yiddish vulgarity is going to be OK for him." - Lawrence O'Donnell

"I realised a long time ago that instrumental music speaks a lot more clearly than English, Spanish, Yiddish, Swahili, any other language. Pure melody goes outside time." - Carlos Santana

"I'm Italian, but some people think I'm Jewish because I work the Yiddish. I also work the Italian, by the way." - Joy Behar

"My dad knows every single accent from being an old Yiddish grandpa to being Indian or Jamaican. It was very cool to grow up with that." - Ashley Bell

"Isaac Singer always wrote in Yiddish. He was so unsure of his English at the beginning that he was easy to edit and he learned fast." - Robert Giroux

"It's self-effacing, it's hard-luck, the shtetl stories. All those Coasters things are an amalgam of Yiddish and black humor." - Jerry Leiber

"I heard Yiddish when my father's family came to the house, which was as seldom as my mother could arrange it." - Joseph H. Greenberg

"Singing in Yiddish was a great thrill for me and came about through Joe Papp, the founder of The Public Theater." - Mandy Patinkin

"There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love... In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"When I was a little boy, I thought when I grew up I would talk Yiddish. I thought little kids talked English, but when they became adults, they would talk Yiddish like the adults did. There would be no reason to talk English anymore, because we would have made it." - Mel Brooks

"In another project I worked on just a few years ago, a staging of Peter and the Wolf, which I translated into Yiddish and sang on a stage in New York City. Thank God very few people knew I was doing it! But the kids in the audience loved it - even though it was all in Yiddish." - Maurice Sendak

"On a crowded bus in Israel, a mother was speaking to her son in Yiddish. An Israeli woman reprimanded her. "You should be speaking Hebrew. Why are you talking to him in Yiddish?" The mother answered, "I don't want he should forget he's a Jew."" - Kirk Douglas

"Yiddish has a down-to-earth quality that makes it remote from high-flown rhetoric, and it has a catch-as-catch-can charm derived from its stunning variety-of syntax, spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary-from region to region." - Israel Shenker

"There are nineteen words in Yiddish that convey gradations of disparagement, from a mild, fluttery helplessness to a state of downright, irreconcilable brutishness. All of them can be usefully employed to pinpoint the kind of individuals I write about." - S J Perelman

"There's an expression in Yiddish, which is "der gelernte naar" - a "learned fool." You can know a great deal, you can have a Ph.D., and you can still be a total idiot." - Mark Helprin

"Yiddish has a down-to-earth quality that makes it remote from high-flown rhetoric, and it has a catchas-catch-can charm derived from its stunning variety - of syntax, spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary - from region to region." - Israel Shenker

"My father who in this case was an obsessive life-long storyteller, and by a very peculiar trick of my father's. My father would tell a very, very long story, and the punch line would be in Yiddish." - Stephen Greenblatt

"English is an outrageous tangle of those derivations and other multifarious linguistic influences, from Yiddish to Shoshone, which has grown up around a gnarly core of chewy, clangorous yawps derived from ancestors who painted themselves blue to frighten their enemies." - Roy Blount Jr

"I was raised to be kind. My parents were underdogs. Immigrant Jews. I spoke with an accent. I didn't speak English even - I spoke French and Yiddish mostly. I was picked on." - Saul Rubinek

"Michael Chabon has long moved easily between the playful, heartfelt realism of novels like 'The Mysteries of Pittsburgh' and 'Wonder Boys' and his playful, heartfelt, more fantastical novels like 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' and 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union.'" - Cathleen Schine

"I never publicise in advance what I'm going to be singing because I never quite know until I start. I often change my mind halfway through. I sometimes throw in stuff about politics or Shakespeare or do songs in Yiddish." - Mandy Patinkin

"At age 11, I went to a Jewish school. I speak Yiddish. I'm Church of England Protestant. My father was Catholic, and my mother was Protestant. My wife is a Muslim." - Michael Caine

"The prejudice is still there, but it's breaking down. You have writers like Michael Chabon and The Yiddish Policemen's Union. He's a writer who's determined to break down genre barriers. He's done amazing things." - George R R Martin

"Yiddish, the language which will ever bear witness to the violence and murder inflicted on us, bear the marks of our expulsions from land to land, the language which absorbed the wails of the fathers, the laments of the generations, the poison and bitterness of history, the language whose precious jewels are the undried, uncongealed Jewish tears." - I. L. Peretz

"The Jewish people have been in exile for 2,000 years; they have lived in hundreds of countries, spoken hundreds of languages and still they kept their old language, Hebrew. They kept their Aramaic, later their Yiddish; they kept their books; they kept their faith." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"The truth is that what the great religions preached, the Yiddish-speaking people of the ghettos practiced day in and day out. They were the people of The Book in the truest sense of the word. They knew of no greater joy than the study of man and human relations, which they called Torah, Talmud, Mussar, Cabala." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"The Yiddish mentality is not haughty. It does not take victory for granted. It does not demand and command but it muddles through, sneaks by, smuggles itself amidst the powers of destruction, knowing somewhere that God's plan for Creation is still at the very beginning." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Not now, for the last three thousand years, Hebrew has been penetrated and fertilized by ancient Semitic languages - by Aramaic, by Greek, by Latin, by Arabic, by Yiddish, by Latino, by German, by Russian, by English, I could go on and on. It's very much like English." - Amos Oz

"What happens when you speak colloquial Hebrew is you switch between registers all the time. So in a typical sentence, three words are biblical, one word is Russian, and one word is Yiddish. This kind of connection between very high language and very low language is very natural, people use it all the time." - Etgar Keret

"At one time he was employed on one of the Yiddish dailies, but lost his job during a political campaign, when he refused to write two editorials advocating the election of two opposing candidates, both to appear in the same issue of the newspaper." - Abraham Cahan

"The corporate Catch-22: Don't be flexible, lose good women; be flexible, lose good women... A company listening to women's desires for fewer promotions, giving fewer promotions to women, and then being sued for giving fewer promotions to women. Yiddish has a word for this: chutzpah." - Warren Farrell

"They always threw their arms around and hugged me while crying our Yiddish endearments. Yet none of them believed in God. They believed in social justice, good works, Israel, and Bette Midler. I was nearly thirty before I met a religious Jew." - Anne Lamott

"The one thing an audience always has in common with a comedian is troubles. The Yiddish word for that is tsuris. You're always putting your tsuris on stage whether you like it or not. No one is untroubled, unless they're just, you know, an imbecile." - David Steinberg

"I have heard from my father and mother all the answers that faith in God could offer to those who doubt and search for the truth. In our home and in many other homes the eternal questions were more actual than the latest news in the Yiddish newspaper. In spite of all the disenchantments and all my skepticism I believe that the nations can learn much from those Jews, their way of thinking, their way of bringing up children, their finding happiness where others see nothing but misery and humiliation." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"I tended to listen to doo-wop, but my grandmother would always have the radio on all day and she'd start with Yiddish and then move on to gospel and later to "make believe" ballroom music. I got to hear all kinds of music and my mother would get up to go to work listening to country music. That was her alarm clock. My dad was a jazz lover and listened to the man who wrote "Misty", Errol Garner. He loved piano players, so I got to listen to that as well." - Richie Havens

"I work in Hebrew. Hebrew is deeply inspired by other languages. Not now, for the last three thousand years, Hebrew has been penetrated and fertilized by ancient Semitic languages - by Aramaic, by Greek, by Latin, by Arabic, by Yiddish, by Latino, by German, by Russian, by English, I could go on and on. It's very much like English. The English language took in many many fertilizations, many many genes, from other languages, from foreign languages - Latin, French, Nordic languages, German, Scandinavian languages. Every language has influences and is an influence." - Amos Oz