If You’re Eating Chinese On Christmas

If you’re the type of person to eat Chinese on Christmas (Jewish), you’ll enjoy this little note that I got from my good friend, Steve Weiss.  So here goes:

jewish-mother

A Little Jewish Vocabulary For You:

Did you know the Eskimos have 27 words for snow? Well The Jews have 31 words for neurotic. The difference here is, only those fluent in Hebonics will sense when to call someone mashugana, ts’mished, furdrehet, hot nisht ein kaup, or vaist nisht vus ehr reht.

Here are a few words to get you started.

  1. “Sch–“, as a prefix to anything, suggests disapproval: “Cadillac schmadillac, you’re suddenly too good for the Chevy?”
  2. Learning to pronounce “sch” properly is the first step in speaking Hebonics like a real Jew. Nothing makes us laugh harder than the sound of Gentiles say, “It’s not raining, just spritzing.” It’s the same “ssshhh” sound as the prompt to be quiet.
  3. Schmuck–Most commonly used as “jerk”, but can also be used as a “sucker,” as in , “Why am I always the schmuck who gets left with the check?”
  4. Super Schmuck
  5. Schmoe–See schmuck.
  6. Schmata–Rag, as in, “Why does she wear those schmatas, that Esther?”
  7. Schmaltz–Literally means chicken fat, but when used in conversation it’s sappy or corny. “The show was OK, but why such a schmaltzy ending?” Just because Jews are asking questions, doesn’t mean they’re going to wait around for an answer. If you’ve got something to say, speak up. Go ahead and jump right in there with a big, “What, are you crazy? That’s not the way to fix a leaky faucet!” (Now keep in mind, YOU will never use this phrase, however, since Jews do not do any home or car repairs.)

    You must interrupt often. It shows that you are interested in the conversation. If you’re talking and Jews don’t interrupt, they’re bored.

    Practice Question: You’re on the freeway, when a sports car speeds past you, goes in and out between cars and drives like a maniac. Your Jewish passenger asks, “Who gave that maniac a driver’s license?” Wrong answer: “In the 1950s, the United States made an economic decision to encourage automobile ownership over public transportation to support the automotive industry which created jobs and stimulated the economy. Ever since, most anyone can get a driver’s license.” Correct answer: “Morons.”

    Gentiles can also profit from learning the nuances of Hebonics. When shopping in the garment district in Lower Manhattan, a Jewish shop owner may seem insulted at your low ball offer on merchandise. He may shout, “What, I’m the schmuck who shouldn’t feed his children?” The untrained Gentile simply cannot translate this phrase to its true meaning, “Let the negotiations begin.”

And Of Course, We Also Have, The Rules Of Jewish Grammar…

Make Sure You Follow These

  1. Phrase all statements as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks gorgeous, ask her, “How stunning do you have to look?”
  2. Instead of answering questions definitely, answer with another question. When someone asks how you feel, answer, “How should I feel?”
  3. Whenever possible, end questions with “Or what?” This allows the other person to interject another question: “Has she grown up, or what?”; “Can you remember when she was just a baby, or what?”
  4. Begin questions with “What?” Example: “What, my pot roast is not good enough for you?”
  5. Drop last word in sentence (which is typically a direct or indirect object): “What, do you want to get killed going alone? Richard will go with” (drop “you”).
  6. Move subject to end of sentences: “Is SHE getting heavy, that Bernice?”
  7. Use “That” as a modifier to infer contempt: “Is Evelyn still dating that Norman fellow?”
  8. Use “lovely” to describe actions taken by someone else that the listener should have done too: “We got a lovely note from the Kleinberg’s for hosting The Seder.” (Translation: “What, you didn’t eat charosis and drink Manichevitz?”)

Bryce Gruber is a Manhattanite mom who can be found jet-setting off to every corner of the globe. She loves exotic places, planes with WiFi, summer clothes, & Sucre brown butter truffles. Bryce’s aim is to do to luxury what Elton John did to being gay. Follow her on twitter @brycegruber


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  • Thank you Bryce for de-coding Hebonics! I always ask a ton of questions when I visit 2nd Ave Deli, maybe a post about standard Jewish nosh? Matzo balls soup sounds really good right now…

  • CMC

    What? No mention of the Jewish penicillin?

  • Jennifer Rutsky

    Oy! I love it!

  • Daniela

    One of the funniest things I’ve ever read!!!

  • samantha

    “What, are you crazy?” should be “What are you meshugana?”

    Also please note Hebronics comes in: NYC Hebronics, LI Hebronics, Jersey Hebronics, Grandma Floridian Hebronics (loaded with guilt) and west coast Hebronics (wasp with a touch of Jew).

  • MissD

    ::falls over laughing:: I’m immediately sending this out to everyone I know (and don’t know). Was it not awesome?