« Better Movies | Main | Fourth Movie Review in Three Days »

August 11, 2008



Funny you should mention. One of tonight's bedtime selections was Kibitzers and Fools, by Simms Taback, a delicious collection of anecdotes, each in explication of a Yiddish phrase or saying. ("I need a tourniquet," didn't make the cut, for some reason.) What I love about this book is that it's a picture book, and therefore enjoyable for the kids, and it's a jokebook, and therefore enjoyable for any of the adults who enjoys Yiddish/Jewish humor. I'm still chuckling over the one about mistaken identity!

As for the Chabon, it's not his best (I am partial to Kav & Clay) but even when he's not exquisite he's damn good. He writes the most beautiful sentences of anyone I have read recently, and the passage in Policemen's Union about the loneliest Jew in Sitka is bringing tears to my eyes as I sit at the computer and remember reading (and re-reading) it.

Oh, and one more thing: Until (shockingly) recently I thought that an acceptable synonym for spatula was latkedatzer. Apparently my mom really did make that one up.


love, love, loved The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Best book I read last year, no contest. I liked it better than Kavalier & Klay (and I liked that a lot). I highly recommend it. If you like detective novels at all you should love it.

I wouldn't recommend his other book from last year though (Gentlemen of the Road) . Found it kind of boring and it's supposed to be an fantasy/action story.


I couldn't get into the Policeman's Union, so I turned it back into the library. It should have been a book I loved since it's the genre I like, but I didn't understand the first 50 pages--and that's my limit!

Ken George

I love Yiddish.

And it was former WBUR Arts reporter Bill Marx who enriched by vocabulary immensely. From him I learned “Zagat.”

(Bill comes from an interesting background. Father worked in a kosher abattoir and had high hopes for his son, but Bill just couldn’t stomach the family trade.)

And down the hall from my former desk, one of the freelances had the cover of “Born to Kvetch” tacked to the bulletin board. That cover is priceless.

Speaking of Yiddish, this multimedia piece about Isaac Singer is most certainly worth the time:



Ken, you reminded me that I meant to mention in my post that you can tell who really knows Yiddish and who doesn't by listening to whether they pronounce "kvetch" with 1 syllable or 2. (It should be the former.) :-)

Ken George

I am finding it hard with the one syllable.
Will likely have plenty of opportunity to practice as I am flying out in the early a.m. and am convinced the plane will be delayed.

Sorry for the delay in getting you the goods.
I brought them home Friday and hope to mail
upon my return. Please don't kvetch!

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo


Search this blog!

Follow me!
Karen Potischman Wise's Facebook Profile