by Chrysa Smith

With a name like mine, could I be anything but a goyem? (Gentile)

Right. I spent the better part of my education in some sort of blue plaid or herringbone Catholic School uniform.

But growing up in NYC gave me some very nice advantages: great food, plentiful work, cultural diversity and the knowledge of some very phonetically-cool Yiddish words and expressions that express words and expressions like no English word could:

Stop your kvetching! (complaining)

She’s a bit meshuga (nuts)

Bubelah (honey, darling)

A little nosh (snack)

Such a mensch! (man’s man)

I could just plotz! (burst)

Well, that’s the goyem dictionary of common Yiddish words inserted into the everyday vernacular. And while I haven’t heard some of this in years, it all came flooding back to me when I met fellow author Lisa Grunberger, at the Collingswood Book Festival.

Lisa is also a transplanted NYC gal, whose book, Yiddish Yoga had me in stitches. She not only transported me back to my NYC days, when riding on the bus and subway, such phrases would make their way into my own vernacular, but she took me on a culinary stroll back to some of my favorite bakery delights: challah (sweet, twisted egg bread), rugelach (pastry with cinnamon, nuts, prune or apricot filling), Hammentashen (triangle shaped pastry filled with raspberry jam)—not to mention the great Jewish Deli. In fact, I’m getting hungry and could use a little nosh. But I digress.

Yiddish Yoga takes women from all walks of life (especially middle age), sets them in a yoga class for the first time and describes (sometimes with great tonal Yiddish), what we are all thinking, feeling, wanting. Here’s a little shpritz:

My first yoga class!

The teacher is so young!

Uch! He wants us to ‘set an intention.’

What can this mean? Intention?

My intention is to have a pastrami sandwich

at Katz’s Deli on Houston (famous deli in Lower Manhattan)

From Newmarket Press, Yiddish Yoga is a short, light fun read for New Yorkers, women and bubelahs of all ages.