Thursday, September 24, 2009


There are some great Jewish haikus floating around on the internet today. One of my personal favorites is:

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

It grabbed my attention in part because I recently had the opportunity to see a traveling performance of Spamalot in Tucson. For those of you who might not be familiar, Spamalot is loosely based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is a nonsensical, silly, irreverent movie mostly mocking cinematic depictions of the King Arthur Legend. Spamalot takes this notion one step further and postulates what would happen if Monty Python and the Holy Grail became a Broadway musical.
Needless to say, it is filled with many hilarious lines, jokes, self-referential materials, and some great song and dance routines. One of my personal favorites was a number called, "You won't succeed on Broadway (if you don't have any Jews)." The musical number is a takeoff of several scenes from Fiddler on the Roof. Though I think perhaps the funniest and saddest parts was in some ways how so few audience members were laughing at any Yiddish humor.
I tend to forget that even though Yiddish is increasingly more prevalent in American culture, especially due to the Jewish comedians and writers of the 50s & 60s, how many Americans still only have a nominal understanding and/or exposure to Yiddish.
Yiddish is one of the great languages in part because, like much of our music, it is always filled with hints of sadness. We Jews have suffered tremendously as is indicated in Spamalot when King Arthur finds out his bosom companion, Patsy, is in fact, Jewish. When pressed as to why he didn't reveal this information earlier, Patsy states, "that's not really the sort of thing you say to a heavily-armed Christian."
Yiddish and yiddishisms often indicate our understanding of how the world is not as it should be as long as suffering and persecution still exist. But at the same time, it has the amazing ability to laugh at itself as well in a self-deprecating sort of way. Thus even in the wilderness of Arizona, it is always a good sight to see when non-Jewish audiences are exposed to a pitzel of Yiddish, for we all need a little more Judaism in order to succeed, not just on Broadway, but also in life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jewish Haikus

These are from the internet. I don't know the original author though I would be happy to credit him or her for these great thoughts. Special thanks to Bonnie for forwarding these to me

Lacking fins or tail
the gefilte fish swims with
great difficulty.

Beyond Valium,
peace is knowing one's child
is an internist.

On Passover we
opened the door for Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.

After the warm rain
the sweet smell of camellias.
Did you wipe your feet?

Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
of her friend's disease.

Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade..

Testing the warm milk
on her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.

The sparkling blue sea
reminds me to wait an hour
after my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree,
is your terrible posture
at my dinner table.

Jews on safari --
map, compass, elephant gun,
hard sucking candies.

The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.

The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Mom, please! There is no
need to put that dinner roll
in your pocketbook.

Seven-foot Jews in
the NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
at Yom Kippur services,
"Yanks 5, Red Sox 3."

A lovely nose ring,
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
male-pattern baldness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shofar, Show Good

The shofar is one of the penultimate expressions of Jewish tradition. In the past it was sounded in times of war as well as to indicate the start of a new month. Today we sound it throughout the month of Elul to help awaken and hearken our hearts to this great and awesome season.
With that in mind, here are a couple of very cute Shofar clips. Enjoy.