The Zambrw Yizkor Book
The English Translation

Courtesy of the United Zembrover Society

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This was one of the brightest and most beloved institutions in Zambrow, and it served as a model for the entire region.

In 1916, at the time when Jewish Poland was able to breathe free a bit, Jewish sports clubs began to be established. Zambrow did not miss this opportunity either. The Germans, who occupied Poland at that time, did not prevent this from happening. At that time in Zambrow, Mr. Hurwicz was designated as the representative of a society for providing wood for industrial purposes. As a sportsman, he could not abide seeing the Zambrow youth without sports. He therefore called for a meeting of several young people, with Leibchak Golombeck at their head, and he clarified the goals of the Maccabi sport club for them, of which he was then a member in Warsaw. His plan appealed to the listeners, and the Maccabi organization was temporarily set up. The group developed vigorously, and it grew from week to week. The principal virtue lay in that the club, from its outset, was non-partisan politically, and it accepted each


Sh. Gutman

young person, whether he was a Zionist or a Bundist. The language of discourse was Hebrew, in accordance with the orders from the central authority in Warsaw. Of particular note was the celebration of the dedication of the flag in honor of the new standard, which was indeed tall and very appropriate more beautiful than the flags of the surrounding towns. Every month, tens of new members joined up, men and women, and all stood out with their white and blue hats, and their sports clothing. Drills and exercises were held in the location of the Gorlin brick works, which belonged to Shlomkeh Blumrosen. The gentiles viewed this Jewish military [sic: cadre] sternly, and even suspected it of harboring evil intent towards the Polish state. However, they could do nothing.

The commandant of Maccabi, for this entire time was Leibchak Golombeck, a tall and skilled sportsman who was committed to Maccabi with his life and soul, and he defended its interests with pride. Later on, the chair was taken over by the lawyer Czerniawsky. Maccabi demonstrated its power and discipline not only once in the city. Maccabi received the Cantor Sirota, with fanfare, and celebrated the holiday of the Balfour Declaration; everyone completely decked out in full uniform with the banner held high, in a stiff cadence, standing erect, with heads held high, they marched through the streets of Zambrow
with song and rhythm.

Gymnastic Exercises - I

The gentiles kept shouting: Zydowsky Wojesko Jewish Military...

So clouds closed in over Maccabi. The mobilization of the best of the youth into the Polish military, the majority of the Maccabi membership, literally ruined its ranks. Apart from this, the Polish authorities looked askance at this Jewish sports club, and robbed it of its rights. Many emigrated to the Land of Israel, Argentina, the United States, etc. Not a few contested the internal political frictions; at that time in Poland, there already existed sports clubs on the right and on the left, from the Bund and Poalei Tzion. The authorities did not permit the use of the name Maccabi that was a symbol of Jewish rebellion, but rather the Jewish Sport Club. The last leaders of the club were Beinusz Tykoczinsky and Hillel-Herschel Sziniak.

A. Shmuel Gutman/ Maccabi

In the year 1916, the Germans employed no small number of Jewish workers in the barracks, Jewish recruits, and the officers in the German army would treat us especially well. There was a German-Jewish officer who helped us to organize the sport activity, apart from the good instructor from Lomza.

I will never forget the big fest???, very early on Sunday morning, with our blue-white banners, when we marched through the streets to the Uchastok. The Christians looked at us askance. The young toughs would shout Zyduzy do Palestiny! "Maccabi" and "Maccabi Youth" then secured the Jewish street, and thanks to this, the political parties began to organize themselves, right and left, religious and secular.

A Maccabi Group


Gymnastic Exercises


HaPoel Workers Sport Organization


'HaPoel' -- The section of Young Girls


HaPoel' --  The Section of Workingmens Sport


Maccabeans on an Excursion


A Group of Girls In Athletic Exercises



Grandmother Shafran with her Grandchildren and Great-Grandson, Joe Zukrowicz


At A Banquet

Standing (from right to left): Baruch Surawicz, Elazar Williamowsky, Simcha Rosenbaum,
Chaim Kaufman, Aviezer Kaplan, Zerakh Gottleib, Ephraim Williamowsky, Yudl Tykoczinsky

Sitting: Elia Cybulkin, Fishman, Yitzhak Gorodzinsky,
Max Tykoczinsky --- Chaim Gorodzinsky, Itzek Cybulkin

From My Childhood World

                                                                 By Yom-Tov Levinsky

A.  Words, Songs and Folk Expressions

Here, in alphabetical order,
74 I bring only a part of the expressions, words and bits of song that I heard during my ten childhood years in Zambrow, approximately between 1901 and 1911. The larger part of these I have never heard in any other place. A part of these I have indeed heard elsewhere, but often with a different meaning, with a verbal explanation giving it an opposite meaning. I present this material as I heard it, and the way it was articulated in Zambrow.


Ot Azoy Nart Men Op a Khosn!
Many times, a prospective bridegroom was promised a dowry and financial support and after the wedding, he was given nothing, because there was nothing to give. The newly married husband would then go about insulted and angry, with his head lowered. Groups of people would then sing along:

Ot Azoy, Ot Azoy,
Nahrt Men Arayn a Khosn!
MZogt im tzu, a sakh nadn
Un mGit im nisht kein groschen!
  In this way, in this way,
A bridegroom is taken in!
He is promised a large dowry
And not a groschen is given to him!

Iberrufekhitz [Nicknames]
Here I record only a few of the names that used to be appended, when the people in question were called to mind:

Abraham Berel Klin (A Village Idiot) Nemt dem Tukhes un Loyf Ahin!75

Agter Alter Shpalter Kryzl Killeh,
               Makh a Brokheh Ibber der Mekhileh!

Moshe Moshe Tshysheh, Tshimtsham, Tshaysheh.
                козак молодчна!
(The second half has its roots in a Russian tune, where a Cossack of low rank is encountered).

Abraham Abraham = Kopovrom Lokshn Drovrom!78

Baylah Grobbeh Baylitseh!79

Mendl Mendl-Fendl!80

(Along with the sobriquet:

Hayst er Mendl Meg Men Essn fun Zayn Fendl
Hayst er Nissl    Meg Men Essn fun Zayn Shissl

Berel          Berel-Shmeryl, Boncheh-Tzitzeh!
                      Makh a Brokheh Ibber der Metzitzeh!

Yankl       Yankeleh, bankeleh,
                      Flesheleh bronfn, bul-bul-bul!

Itcheh Meir
An added name for a Jewish man who is a Hasid and who has no means of making a living, a sobriquet especially popular among Mitnagdim in Poland. Among the Ger Hasidim, this name was utilized very extensively, after the Ger Rebbe R Itcheh Meir z"l.

In Bod Arayn!
This would be called out in the streets by someone when the baths were being heated (see further on Montik in Bod Arayn).

Aynlaygn di Velt
Do whatever is possible in order to salvage, or carry out anything that is difficult to accomplish.

In Shul Arayn!
The Shammes would call this out every Friday, at candle-lighting time, in the middle of the street, so that Jews hurry up to participate in the welcoming of the Sabbath.

Children would sing the following, when they began to learn the alphabet:

Alef Beyz, Alef-Beyz,
Kokh mir op a topp flaysh!
Nisht kein sakh, nisht kein bissl,
Nor a fulleh shissl!


Alef Beyz, Alef-Beyz,
Cook a large pot of meat for me!
Not a lot, not a little,
Just a full bowl!

This song also comes from Lithuania, where the poem is known as: Alef-Beyz A Teppl Flaysh.

Ahmol iz Gevehn a Mayseh
When telling stories to little children, if one wanted to gull them and thereby amuse them, one would say:

Ahmol iz gevehn a myseh,
Mit a kelbeleh a vyseh,
Mit a kieleh a roiteh
Du bist a groiser shoyteh!


Once there was a story,
With a white calf,
With a little red cow
You are a big fool!

Ahmol Hot Er Gefiert
In the fifth year (1905) the revolutionaries (strikers) would tell of the well-connected nature of the capitalists in Russia, the newly rich, the Governor General, and like persons, as follows:

Ahmol hot er gefiert a vegeleh mit mist
Heint iz er gevoren
Der grester capitalist
Oy vey Долойй полицеи!
Долой самодержцеи России!

 Ahmol hot er gefiert
A vegeleh mit koyln,
Heint iz er gevorn
Der hersher ibber Poyln. .
Oy vey
Долойй полицеи, etc.

Ahmol iz er gevezn
An Opgerissener Nahr,
Heint is er in Russland
Nikolai der Tsar

  Once, he wheeled around a small wagon with excrement.
Today he has become
The greatest capitalist...
Oy vey down with the police!
Down with the autocrats of Russia!

Once, he carried around
A small wagon with coal,
Today he has become
The ruler over Poland.

At one time, he was
A complete fool,
Today, in Russia, he is
Nicholas the Czar

Children would sing it differently,
Oy vey Dalai Politsei Lokshn mit farfl ohn an ei!84

Chaim Shmulis Covered Wagon with Passengers

A Painting by Zeidenstat, Lomza, Poland

Ohmar Abaye
Children would make fun of the boys who studied the Gemara, and using the sing-song of Gemara study, they would say85:

Ohmar R Meir Hot Er Tzebrokhn di Eier!
Ohmar REliezer Tzebrokhn di Glezer!
Ohmar Abaye Hot Men Gekoyft Nyeh!
  R Meir said He broke the eggs!
REliezer said He broke the glasses!
Abaye said They then bought new ones!

The first cooked meal in the morning. At about eleven or twelve in the morning, the Heder children would go home to eat their onbysen. The morning food and drink, on an empty stomach, was called: Ibberbysen, and the evening meal Vechereh.

A beautiful, tall woman who had an attractive figure. From the Polish, Osoba. Rarely was this term used to describe a handsome man (see Parshayn): Zi hot genumen a mann an osobeh.

If someone was deceived, the entire group would leap to its feet singing:
Opgenahrt, kishkeh-nahrt, Moshe Yokhes, kish mir in tokhes88

Made scrawny and dried out, from the Polish word suchy meaning dry. One would hurl an imprecation: Opgedart, opgesuchniet zolst du verrn. (May you become dried out and scrawny).

Akvit Whiskey, from the Latin, Aqua vita.

Referring to very young children before they reach Heder age, from the Polish okrawkibits and pieces, cut off?

Bazolyet Wet. When a child wakes up wet from [being asleep in] bed. .

A golyuba (a royal holiday) in which all the Heder children would be assembled in the Bet HaMedrash, and later, when there was a Russian school for Jewish children the students of that school [as well]. The Hazzan would sing the Russian National Anthem with them on the
bima, [beginning with] Боже, царя храни! God Watch Over the Czar. The children, as well as the adults would shorten this to Bozhetsa. The Bozhetsa was also sung when there was a reception for a governor or a general. At the singing of this piece, the страший-старший (most senior police officer) would always bear witness, and he would perform честъ. This means: he would stand at attention, and with sword in hand, he would place his right hand on the right side, in salute, by his ear.

Batronchik (or Patronchik)
This is an added name for a Yeshiva student studying away from home, and who requires support in the form of daily meals. It is derived from the word patron indicating the need for a sponsor, or ombudsman: such a dependent Yeshiva student would retain the child of balebatim, for a specific salary, to be his patron. to impart to him acceptable forms of religious observance, and behavior, and to study a page of the Gemara with him. One would sing: Az Okh und Vey Tsum Batronchiks Yorn/As Er Darf Fun der Haym Avekforn/ Oy Vey, mVert Farlorn/ Shoyn Besser Az mIz Nisht Geborrn
89 and so forth following the alphabet. I no longer remember the remaining verses.

A stork (in Polish, Bocian). When the Bocian would come flying, in spring, and settle on the roof to build a nest the children would sing: Kalleh, der Bocian vet kinder brengen.
90 [The sentiment comes from] the folk superstition that a stork augurs the coming of children. However, this too was modified: Kalleh der Bocian Kinder Brengen from [Isaac Bashevis] Singers book, A World that No Longer Exists (p. 215), he documents another version: Bocian HaMelech Di Nest Brennt!

Someone who talks too much, from the Russian Bolbotukha. Er iz a Bolbot. Di moyl farmacht er nisht.91 A woman is a Bolbotukheh. One would engage in the witticism: Ven er iz a Baal Bitokhn, (saying little and trusting in God), then she is a Bolbotukheh.

A comic description of a small gentile child: A banumenish, nokh nisht fun drerd oyfgevoksn!
92 The term banumenish was often applied to the Devil, or any one of his emissaries, not wanting to utter his real name.

A small closed copper vessel, with a small opening on top, with ears by which it could be held. It was used only for preparing tea. From the Russian Banka, a tin can.

Bakn Bagel
If you wanted to curse someone, one said: go to hell and bake bagels! This is derived from what a bereaved person ate, upon returning from a funeral: bagels.

Bavarian Beer, a type of beer that was obtained from the beer brewer, in bottles.

Borshtz mit kartoshkehs
Zambrow children would line themselves up like soldiers, go out into the street, imitating and singing like the Russian soldiers, as they used to march through the streets.

Once would sing:

Ay sil, zakusil! (I have eaten and stuffed myself).
The others would respond in chorus:
Borshch mit kartoshkehs!

A comic expression referring to the Christian rite of sprinkling holy water, considerably altered from the Polish, uświęcić.

Burkeh A kiosk in the marketplace, where soda water was sold.

An ink stain on the paper. Also, a bulbeh was a potato, as in Lithuania, where it became known in the folksong, Zuntig bulbehs, Montig bulbehsetc.

Baym Vant Un In Mittn
Children would fight over who would sleep up against the wall, and who in the middle. So it was said:

Ver es ligt bei der vand
Vet hobn a goldeneh land!
Ver es ligt in mitn
Vet hobn a goldeneh shlittn!
Ver es ligt beim eck
Vet hobn a shissl mitt...[dreck].
  Whoever sleeps against the wall
Will have a golden land!
Whoever sleeps in the middle --
Will have a golden sleigh!
Whoever lies at the edge
Will have a bowl full of....[shit].

Baagalah uVizman Kariv
Oyb baagalah it is then a wagon
Iz bizman koriv a sleigh!

A liar, because he is always baking up fresh lies. He managed to bake up this lie on a cold oven.

A gentile brother, with the Hebrew suffix ra someone who is wicked.
Di shikseh hot a brudera iz er ehrger far ihr. Zol em die erd araynnehmen un tsen mohl aroysvarfn94.

Boruch Ata! If someone began to recite a blessing, but could not proceed, people would reply: Fiddl Data.

Gut Morgn Korev!.... A deaf Jewish man, who sold dairy produce was traveling confidently from the village to the city to sell butter and cheese, [while] at the time his wife had given birth to a baby boy. Another person encounters him and says: Gut Morgn Korev! The deaf man replies: I am traveling into the city! Is it far from the city? He replies: My wife had a baby boy!

Will you give me a good price?
He replies: Three gulden a pound.

Gimzhet A light rain is falling.

An Outing on Tisha BAv Notice the covered heads, which serve as a protection against
the age-old custom of youngsters throwing prickly nettles into the girls' hair on that day.

The [sic: Jewish] Zambrow children suffered the greatest trouble from the priest and his servants, who would incite the gentile hooligans, and would sic their dogs on the Jewish children. If a Jewish child should happen to draw near the priests woods, he could not be sure of his life. The fat-bellied priest would seize the child, pull on his ear, and often knock off his hat. As a result: when the [church] bells would ring, for a holiday, or a gentile funeral, the Jewish children would take revenge by saying, in time with the pealing of the bells: A kraynk, a kraynk, zoll lygn, zoll laygn, dem galakh, dem galakh, in ponch (belly) arayn!95

A foolish girl, from the Old German Gluka a cackling chicken, that sits on her eggs! Zi iz a groyseh gluka, farshtayt nisht fun danen biz ahin.

Literally: the yolk of an egg. In the shtetl, however, it was a term applied to a blond Jewish man.

Geleh Tshatch
A blond girl. Rarely, this term might also be applied to a blond boy. This comes from the Russian Tchetcho a doll, a sensitive child, or from the Polish, caca-cacko!

Geshmadeteh Haldz
A nickname for a glutton, who cannot control himself, and eats everything
Zyn haldz is geshmadet!97

Gerirt di Meryneh

Insulted someone. It is an alteration of Morenu. Once there was a Morenu who did not have the honorific title of a Scholar. When he was called to the Torah, he was not accorded the courtesy of being called Morenu haRav so it was said that his Morenu dignity had been touched. Also, with irony, it might be said of an individual, who is unworthy of the formal courtesy extended to him: A Shayneh Meryna! It is from this, that the childrens song is derived:

Shayneh-Meryneh Ketzeleh:
Bak Mir Op a Pletzeleh!
Shayneh-Meryneh Kotz,
Bak Mir Op a Platz!


Pretty little honorable kitten:
Bake me a small flatbread!
Pretty honorable [big] cat,
Bake me a full-sized flatbread!

Geshmoltsener Shtern
Someone with an inflated opinion of himself. It is possible that this is derived from the ancient practice of anointing the King or the High Priest with oil. Accordingly, their forehead was lubricated'.

Grobbeh Kopchekheh'
A nickname for a woman or a man, who is thick-headed, and cannot grasp what is being discussed. This name, in the city, was applied to a specific lady cook, a widow. It is possible that it was her husband, who was called the
Grobber Kop!98

Gramzhet He is eating without appetite. He chews, and chews, but does not swallow.

Griner Shavuos
Used to describe someone who looked bad, and was green and yellow. On Shavuos, the house would be decorated with all manner of greens.

Gesirkheh (Gesrokheh) A bad odor, bad behavior, that denigrates a person.

A kind ohn a mann
Iz a groyseh gesirkheh,
Hot zi farshemt
Di gantseh mishpokheh!


'[To bear] a child without a husband
Is to make a big stink,
She brought shame upon
The entire family!

(From a folk song, which was sung in Zambrow about fifty to sixty years ago, quite possibly when such an incident occurred).

Gret dirty underwear. Mann vasht gret.

A gragger, used on Purim to smite Haman, which the children would fashion out of metal or wood. The older children would make a sort of rifle out of thread spools, or make a shingle gun out of a roof shingle.

Didkeh (Ditkeh)
Three kopecks, from the Latin duodecem = twelve. This means twelve half-groschen, which would make six whole groschen, or three kopecks. The poor people in town would receive a half-groschen as alms. However, half-groschen were in short supply, so the balebatim would buy a 'didkeh from the Gabbai out of the Tzedaka this would be twelve chits for six groschen, with the stamp of the community affixed on them, along with the writing: Half of a Large, meaning a half-groschen. The poor person would collect these chits, and exchange these didkehs for six real groschen. In time, the six groschen piece also became known as a didkeh.' Girls would say to the musicians: Have a didkeh, and giver me a dance.

Direh Gelt
This is rent, which also was paid in Zambrow. Not once did poor Jewish people have trouble with the landlord for not paying rent. Because of this, children would sing:

Kumt arayn der baleboss
Mit der groyser khaliapeh,
Git men em nisht kayn direh gelt,
Shtelt er aroys di kanapeh!
  The landlord comes in
With his big mouth,
If he is not given the rent,
He sets the couch outside!

And then the entire Heder of little boys would chime in:

Oy direh gelt dem baleboss,
Direh gelt dem часовой
Oy direh gelt, oy, Боже мой (My God)
Oy, oy, oy, oy oy!
  Oh, pay the rent to the landlord,
[Pay] the rent to the watchman
Oh, the rent, oh my God
Oh,oh,oh,oh, oh!

This is a phrase from a well-known folk song, which comes in different variations. In Lomza, instead of saying khaliapeh (= big mouth) they would say shliapeh, from the Russian, шляпа (hat).

Dreibeh (Dribkeh)
The leftover parts of a bird, which the poor would buy for the Sabbath meal: the head, the guts, wings and feet, or a small scrawny diminutive chicken. This is what the Russians called the Polish eagle, which to them, looked like a sawed off scrawny chicken, when compared to the double-headed Russian eagle. It is from here that the Litvak pejorative is derived, used to belittle the dignity of a Polish Jew:
Poylisheh Dribkeh!

Drengenish A special descriptor for diarrhea.

The recess in the Bet HaMedrash, between Shakharit and Musaf services, especially on the High Holy Days. Women, who would go to synagogue to pray on the Sabbath or Festivals, would take their Halb-Shulzeit break when the reading of the Torah was commenced, and they would go home to feed the little children.

To gorge, to eat quickly, by taking large bites: Er hot arayngehakt a ganzen lebl brayt. Moishe und Aharn zitsn beim tish, hakn bulkehs, essn fish.99 (From a Yiddish-Russian folksong).

Haktsehs und Broktsehs
Cut him up and break him into pieces. When someone has stubbornly refused to give in on a matter, one said: khotch haktsehs und broktsehs, meaning that if you cut him up and broke him up into pieces, he would still not go along.

Heint ayns, morgn tsen
Gentiles would stop to make a mockery of a Jewish funeral procession, when everyone else was crying and wailing. Because of this, Jewish children would retaliate. At a gentile funeral, the Jewish children would say:

Heint aynem morgn tsen
Alleh teg zoll men ess zehen!


Today one tomorrow ten
May we see this every day!

Avadeh iz gevehn a vasserfirer
If someone said, among other things, Avadeh is er gevehn! then the rejoinder would be:
Avadeh iz gevehn a vasserfirer100 (a play on the Polish word woda meaning water).

Vu Voss Vehn?

a. If one of the children would interrupt a conversation and ask: Vu? Where?
He was answered by:

In tokhes bei der ku!   In the cows ass!

This would cause him to fall silent.

b. If another boy would ask Vehn? When?
The answer returned was:

Der tateh hot dir geshmissen,
Khhob alayn gezehen!
  Your father whipped you,
I saw it myself!

c. If the question was Voss? What?
The reply was:

Voz iz a gandz. (Russian-Polish)   Voz is a goose.

d. If one said Mali-Voss?
The reply that came back was: Malyi voz is a small wagon (Russian-Polish).

Vi Azoy? One would ask: Vi Azoy? The answer returned: Lamcheh derei!

Gei in kutseh101 Lay an egg.

Heint ayns, morgn tsvei,
Un farbeiss mit a gomulkeh shnei!
  Today one, tomorrow two,
And have a snack of a ball of snow!

Ver vill?

When a group of children would be asked: Ver vill? -- they were all supposed to remain silent. The one who blurted out and said Ikh, caused all the children to mock him with the refrain:

Ikh? Gay in kikh,
Farbren di shikh,
Ikh vell essn lokshn mit mikh (milkh),
Und du vest essn proshakehs mit khazer.
  I? Go to the kitchen,
Get your shoes burned,
I will eat noodles and milk,
And you will eat baking powder with pig.

Wojtek The name of a simple gentile, and often used to describe a young boy attending Heder, that
does not want to learn. Fun would be made of an ignoramus, who in reading the Shema, would say
veAkhalta veSawojtek instead of veAkhalta veSavahta.

Vyser Polk
This was the way the dead were referred to, because they were all dressed in white shrouds, as if in uniform, like soldiers. Er iz gegangen in vysen polk arayn,
102 indicates that the individual being referred to has died.

Zokhn  Tribulations. A Jew is sick, or a gentile perpetrates zokhn, or he is sick. When a wealthy person falls ill, and distributes tzedakah, so as to earn some consideration in heaven, it would be said in the shtetl:

Az der noggid toot kreynken und zokhn,
Hot der oriman voss tsu kokhn!
  When the rich man suffers illness and tribulation,
 The poor man has something to cook!

A satirical reference to a daughter. Especially a gentile daughter. "May his zokhenish be the redemption. She is already twelve years old."

Zoress Shpiln
The trumpeting of the military guard in the barracks, at night as a signal that it is time to go to bed, and also before dawn that it is time to get up (from the Russian заря
reveille, tattoo). The reverberation of the trumpets at night, would serve as a timepiece for the Jews: a signal when to go to sleep. The pious would rise in the morning with these signals, to attend the first morning prayer minyan, or go to open up shop.

Zunero A little gentile son, with the suffix reh, meaning wicked (in Yiddish ro) is the way all the members would be counted out in the family of a wicked gentile: der tatero (or fottero), di mamero, der shvoggero, der brudero, di shvestero, di shviggreo, etc.

Zyreh -- see Yayreh

Zhomb A frost. Shott gekhapt a frestl, und shpetter gevorn a zhomb.103

Zellner Gehen...
There were three brothers. One had affected eyes, so the doctors ordered him not to rub them. The second had an elflock
104 and so he was forbidden to scratch himself. The third has polyps, and he was not allows to pick his nose. One time, soldiers were going by. The first then remarked, rubbing his affected eyes: soldiers are going by! The second then asks, scratching his head: Where? Where? The third then answered, picking his nose, right and left: There! There!

A big mouth, Er hot geefent di khalipeh un ongehoybn shiltn. See above: Direh Gelt dem Baleboss.

Khalaytsehs (Khalaytsehs)

Large bread loaves made from white flour (Challah flour), often four-sided like a long brick. This would be sold to the gentiles, when they would come for a fair or a market, or be going to church on Sunday. The name comes from the Yiddish, Challah. If the Challahs in the oven didnt come out right, one would say: those are khalaytsehs, not Challahs.

The wedding of a wicked gentile, having the suffix reh appended, and intended to reflect the sound of khaleria [sic: cholera](see tatero, mamero, shvestero, brudero).

A small Challah, which would be baked either on Fridays, or before Festival Holidays, for children. This would also be shortened as bandeh. It comes from the Latin root, bon dia meaning good day, i.e. Yom Tov a Festival Holiday. In the shtetl, it also served as an added name, There was a woman, a seller in the market, who was called by this name (see:
Matzo Zu!).

A half groschen, in the parlance of the charity organization (see Didkeh).

Tatero A gentile father, with the suffix reh meaning he was wicked. Similarly: Mamero.

Tokhtero See Tatero, Zunero, etc.

Tatulu Mamulu
Winter, during the nights of Christmas (
Boźe Narodzenie), the observant gentiles would blow small trumpets at night. The Jewish children would then sing along with the same tune and cadence:
Tatulu, Mamulu, ess dem kugelu!

Tomer Iz Gevehn a Yiddeneh!
If someone expressed doubt by saying, for example:
Tomer vet er nisht velln?105 Another person might wittily reply: Tomer (Tamar) was a Jewish lady!

Tantz- Klass In the Zambrow dance class, the dance master would admonish the boys and the girls, who were not dancing well, and said to them in the tune and cadence of a waltz:

Herrn und Damen, a klog tzu eikh!
Goyishe keplakh vaksn auf eikh!
   Ladies & Gentlemen, woe unto you!
 You are developing gentile intelligence!

The girls would then retort, using the same melody:

Hot nisht faribl, mir gehen nisht gikh,
Vyl mir hodn tserisseneh shikh!
  Please dont blame us for not moving spritely,
Because we have torn shoes!

(Heard from my mother)

Di Maydlakh Gehen Tantzen
Once in a while, a significant amount of time would go by, until the girls would save up money, [to pay] for the musicians, and they wanted to go dancing. A short dance cost a ditkeh three kopecks. Occasionally it would happen that the girls barely made it to get the money together and the musicians would suddenly vanish. So they would say: Di Maydlakh Gehen Tantzen Geht der Klezmer fi
106 (See tzvantzig kopekehs). This would also be used in the Bet HaMedrash, when the congregation was already present and the person supposing to lead the service, or the Maggid, went off elsewhere

Topp Tsimmes Flieht!
A recognition game used to be played. Each one would lean a finger against the hip of the leader. The leader would ask various questions. What flies or not. He would raise his finger at each question. The players, however, needed to remain alert: A little bird flies! pick up the finger; a stork flies pick it up: An air balloon flies! pick up the finger. A pot of tsimmes flies do not pick up the finger. Some, however, would raise their finger also, when they were not supposed to, and would be fined with pitkehs (a sort of penalty [see below]).

Someone who tears things. Someone who quickly tears a garment or a shoe, Er is a groyser torakh.

Toyber Yash
A nickname for someone who is half deaf, who can hear a little, but doesnt quite hear it all. It is derived from the name Tuvia, which in Polish is Tobiasz, which was then modified into Toyb-Yash Toyber Yash.

A cloister. A parody of the Hebrew Tefilah [sic: prayer]. Tifleh is from the Hebrew meaning something unseemly (Job 1:22).

An epithet for a fool. There was a foolish young man in the shtetl that was given that nickname, because instead of a vant zayger [i.e. a wall clock] he would say tshamzayger. On that basis, other fools were called by that name as well.

A diminutive and scrawny little boy, who is not qualified to be a soldier. It appears to be a word that comes from the Russian barracks

Tshifshukh Szczypior (Pol. A Green Onion)
The green leaves of onions, which were sold at the beginning of the summer, from which a sort of salad was made to be served with meat (with vinegar, sugar, and hard-boiled eggs). Children would make flute-like whistles from the tshifshukh.

A deranged fool. Er is a chelyemok! Mok by itself was also used by the Galician Jews in an expression: Kyreh Mok, where KYRH is the acronym in Hebrew for Keysar YaRim Hodo [The emperor, may his glory be exalted]

Someone who is cunning, who does not let himself be deceived, but leads others around by the nose.

A clumsy, ungainly young man, especially a tall over-nourished [sic: fat] young man, who is a grobber yung, a zhlub.

Equivalent to a calf, that matures quickly into a young cow. In the shtetl, however, this is what a cello was called, the large bass fiddle of the musicians, because in Polish, czelo is the same as czelica a calf, a yaleshkeh.

Signifying Jewish children, a modification from Ihreh = Ayereh [sic: yours], in contrast to gentile children, who were called Zyreh modified from Zeyereh [sic: theirs]: Three Yaireh went for a stroll outside the city, and they were assaulted by four Zyreh, with dogs and clubs.

Wild-growing small pears, that grow in the forest, or near the road, and become ripe to eat at around Sukkot time. The gentiles would sell them by the sack. The same name was derisively applied to the gangs of laborers, who during Hol HaMoed, would come down from the nearby villages and towns, to look for work, and hire themselves out for a period of time.

Equivalent to
Endikehs.112 In secret code language, used in the shtetl, this was used to identify immigrants attempting to get to America illegally, without government passports. Agents from ship companies, or makhers, would conduct them over the border into Prussia. There, they would acquire a ships ticket to travel on further, as far as Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp, etc., to the [sic: trans-Atlantic] ship.

Der Yosseml

Children used to sing a song about a little orphan, who suffers tribulation at the hands of a stepmother: Shikt zi em nokh mehl zogt zi es iz gehl; Shikt zi em nokh tsuker zogt zi es is bitter,113 etc. A cradle-song was popular, about a baby orphan, that mothers would often sing beside the cradle, to cause their babies to go to sleep:

The mother lies on the ground,
Her feet already splayed out,
The little orphan lies in the cradle
With eyes all cried out.
There is no more mother,
There is no solace!

Who, my child,
Will smear butter on your bread,
Who, my child,
Will take you to Heder?
There is no more mother,
There is no solace!

Who my child,
Will polish and adorn you,
Who, my child,
Will lead you to the wedding canopy?
There is no more mother,
There is no solace!

Kalleh, der Botchan See Botchan above.

Kallehleh, Kallehleh, Vayn, Vayn!
Children would twist the word and mimic the badkhan at weddings and say, using the same tune that he would use to sing to the bride:

Kallehleh, Kallehleh, Vayn, Vayn,
Der Khossn vet dir shikn a teppeleh khrayn.
Vest du farrotzn dyneh yoongeh tsayn
  Bride, Bride, cry, cry,
The Groom will send you a small pot of horseradish.
And you will redden your youthful teeth...

When a girl would burst into tears, passers-by, or neighbors, would sing this to her, but instead of
Kallehleh they would substitute her name.

Sleeping, especially applied to a gentile or general to a neer-do-well:
Er kholyet a ganzen tog, und toot gornisht.114 See poffn.

Khlayen Drinking hurriedly, and in large amounts. A Yid trinkt, a Goy khlayet.115

Kapporeh-nik, Kapporeh-nitseh
A gentile youth, or gentile young woman. It is derived from: Mein kapporeh zoll er zein!
Er hot geshikt zein kapporenik koyfn mehl116.

Lahd Disorder Bei mir iz a groyser lahd, nokh heint di shtub nisht farkehrt.117

A collar that was called a Hertzl, starched and hard-pressed, that was worn around the throat, instead of an outside shirt.

Lieb dir dein gast!
This was the wish extended to people who were obligated to host a guest for the Sabbath or a Festival holiday, such as: a daughters prospective bridegroom, an in-law, etc. Usually, a child was sent with a small bottle of wine, beer, or soda water, to a friend, or neighbor, for the Sabbath, after the traditional nap, and the child was instructed to say: My mother sent this along and said Lieb eikh eyer gast!

On the Riverside

A kaluźa (paddle) of water, modified from riviera a water (or as it was said in Zambrow: Lirn instead of Rirn. A fliask, instead of a frask.)

Leibtsunak leibsudak, leibtsudek119
A word equivalent to the arba kanfot Tzitzit garment, called a tallit katan.

A euphemistic description for someone with a runny nose, like the frozen drops of water that hang down from the roofs and eaves of a window. [Literally: a small candle].

Lyekken Drab singing of no taste. A Yid zingt zmirehs, un a Goy lyekket.120

Mordeven Meisterven
This would be said in connection with someone who doesnt have mastery of a skill, or about a youngster, who was trying very hard to fix something: Er mordevet shoyn a gantsen tog, untgornisht farricht.

Sort of a large potato, which cooks up quickly, but does not taste good. It would sometimes be said of a fat young woman,
Zi is a mazhgoleh.

Mazhen, mazhgen Being sloppy. Not writing either cleanly or legibly.

An ugliness. One would say of a particularly unattractive girl: Zi is dokh a mazhepeh! This is derived from the name of a Cossack
122 in the time of Chmielnicki123 or Gonta124, who was known as a hater of Jews, and had an ugly face.

Matchek (pol. Maciek)
A popular name for a gentile. This also served as a synonym for a dissolute youth, who was not observant, and does not want to study (see further on). If one did not believe someone, one would say:
Motchek zoll azoy lebn, vi siz emess!125

Matcheks Gram
An ill-formed rhyme or song, like a gentile (Motchek) trying to speak Yiddish. Shot a za taam, vi Motchkehs gram!
126 was a retort, when someone gave an inappropriate, or inadequate reply.

Motchkeh Tepper
The name of an unfamiliar person in the shtetl: Ba Motchkeh Teppern oyf der khasseneh meaning: it never will happen. It appears that there was once a
tepper127, an old bachelor, who never got married.

A young, impoverished youth, someone straitened, who would go around [soliciting alms] from house-to-house. His mother would be called a Mokhchekheh and the entire family De mokhchekhehs. It is from this, that the expression is derived for those who have been abandoned, who walk about in tatters:
Er zeht oys vi a mokhchak128.

Makhn an ahver
Fetid air. From the Hebrew avir -- air. If one desired to identify which boy in the Heder had passed wind, they would walk around and tap on the lamp (the ear lobe), and stop at the one whose lamp was lit (or was hot), which was cause to pull hard on his ear.

Makhraam (The Hebrew ?מכוערת)
An ugly girl, and it would be applied sometimes extra specially to a gook-looking girl, so she not fall victim to the evil eye.

Mamero See Tatero, Zunero, etc.

Montik in Bodd Arayn!
Occasionally, a special messenger would be sent out to announce in the streets: In bodd arayn! at those times when the baths would be heated up in the middle of the week. When the revolutionaries would end there singing with the refrain:

Mutik un mutik in kampf arayn!
The little boys would sing afterwards:
Montik un montik in bodd arayn!

  Into the battle with spirits high!

Into the baths on Monday, and Monday!

A mask, which was especially applied to a mask worn at Purim time, which was made by the Heder children themselves. Sometimes the word would be transferred to describe an ugly face: Siz dokh
a miuskeit, a mashgara129.

Mayvin kol Dibbur
A gentile, who understands Yiddish, comes into the store, causing one person to warn the other, in folk-Hebrew, not to blurt out anything derogatory:
Der orel is a mayvin al dibbur, kol oyss!130.

Ma Nishtanah?
Mah why. Children would wittily translate the Hagaddah as follows:

Farvoss, ikh bin gevehn oyfn groz,
Iz gekummen a hoz,
Un mir opgebissn dem noz
Un khvayss nit farvenn un farvoss?
  Why, I was on the grass,
Along came a rabbit,
And bit off my nose,
And I have no idea why?

Makhar Tamuss
You will die tomorrow. When impolite youths would encounter a wicked peasant, working in the field, they would jokingly wish him: Dai Bozhe, makhar tamuss, instead of Dai Bozhe, na pomoc. May God help you! Uncomprehending, the peasant would reply, as was customary: Pan Bog Zaplac may God repay you in kind. The better type children would not engage in this sort of attempted banter.

A euphemism for a small mouse, not wanting to call it by name, while eating..

A Myshev
From the word moshav. Not rhymed in, Bei im in shtub iz a myshev. One would joke: In the Pentateuch, it is already written that Jews have a myshev: And the time the Jews dwelt... (Exodus 12:40).

A sumatokha or a tumult. He cooked up a kasha and made a whole mishimonkeh out of it. One would also say, relating to the water in a running brook which was sandy, and had not been allowed to stand: There is, after all, a mishimonkeh in the quart [bottle].

Malka Meirkeh
A special name for a Jewish lady who talks a great deal, and it is impossible to get rid of her [incessant] tongue. It is possible that there was a woman, of this sort, who had that name.

A dead person. Plural is meskehs. Children would tell: Meskehs would come into the wreckage of the burned down synagogue, to pray. When they read from the Torah they also call the living to an aliyah from among those passing by in the street. Children believed that such an individual, once called, did not emerge alive again from their midst.

Matzo Zu
When this was recited in the Hagaddah, and especially on Shabbat HaGadol, one would respond:
Khalyibondes koo! (see Khalleh Bondeh).

Mryneh Modified from morenu. (See Gerirt di Mryneh).

Mnogie lieta [многие лета] (Traditional Russian birthday song)
On official government holidays (Goliubka) when the representatives of the Jews would have to assemble in synagogue to extend respect to the Russian authorities, and children had to sing the Russian anthem along with the Hazzan, the Mnogi lieta was also sung from time-to-time. That is, многие лета, многие лета, православни цар (Many years, many years, Russian Czar of the True Faithful.) Using the same tune, the children would add the following verse:

Moshe mit Aharonen zitsn beim tish, hakn bulkehs, un essn fish!
Alleh Yiddn in Yerushalayim, essn lekakh, trinkn LChaim!
  Moses and Aaron are sitting at the table, gorging rolls and eating fish!
All the Jews in Jerusalem are eating honey cake and toasting

Nu Nu
If someone said Na! the rejoinder was: Na-The-Na! If somone said Nu! the reply would be:
Make a Motzki! This was because whoever had washed his hands, and wanted to make a Motzi, and found no bread on the table, would shout at his wife, Nu! not wanting to break the discipline of uttering a word that was not in the Holy Tongue. It was because of this, that he was answered in this way.

Svorakh A runny cheese, from the Russian творог (curds).

An elision of the Hebrew words, Esrim vArba (twenty four), referring to the twenty-four books of the Tanakh. He is studying Svarbeh already he is studying The Prophets. The implication is that he is in an upper class, having completed his study of the Pentateuch.

Little fish, which was bought mainly during the winter, chopping them up and making halkehs from them. They were also cooked whole, without heads, in sweet and sour. They would make fun of a cross-eyed woman by saying: She looks at pike fish, and buys stinkehs. A skinny and small man would be called stinkeh.

Elided from shishkehs, which were prickly fruits that had thorns
131, which on Tisha BAv would be thrown at the heads of girls, and into the beards of the older men. It was also called berelakh.

Smoleh Kop!
A shoemaker who would butt into everything was called a smoleh kop
132, because the cobblers thread was treated with pitch at the tip, so that it would be able to negotiate through the hole that he made with his awl.

Podvereh Podwrek
A backyard. In the folk argot, the expression:
Bkitsur haDovor a podvereh a myseh133!

The beginning, the start (Polish). If one bought, or sold something on a Saturday night, which brought a substantial profit, was called: Makhn a gutn poczhantek. This was considered a good omen for income to be earned during the rest of the week. In Lithuania, they used to say poczatek. In Polish, this would also be elided to pierwszy poczatek134.

A folk descriptor for a big belly, from the Italian pancho. Er hot bakummen a ponts. (See: A Kraynk dem Galakh.)

A stomach ache. In the summer, when one would stuff oneself with unripe cucumbers, one got a poncewkeh. stomach cramps, which was very similar to dysentery.

A big pletzl [sic: a boardlike bread] made from ruddy ??? flour, with onion shaken over it, which was baked over an open flame fire, when the oven was being heated to bake bread. From the Polish

A vulgar way to express the act of sleeping too much. He sleeps until the day is half over, and does nothing. See Kholyen.

A folk or childrens expression for small potatoes, approximately the same as bulbehs in Lithuania.

Pakn Tsitrinen
To shiver from the cold. Tsitrin from the [Yiddish] word tsiteren to shiver.

To have died. It is an expression used when a wicked gentile dies. Der orel is farvorfen gevorrn

Fort a Khossidl tsum Rebbn
Children of Mitnagdim would make fun of a Hasid who travels to his Rebbe, leaving his wife and children without anything to eat:

Fort der Khossid tsum Rebbn
Nishtduh di kinder broyt tsu gebbn,

Fort er mit aleh khassidokehs
Lozt der vyb un kinder makkess!
  And so the Hasid travels to the Rebbe
There is no bread to give the children,
He travels with all his Hasidic claque
Leaving his wife and children plagues!

The gentile toughs would sing:

Jeszcze Chasyd do Rabina
Dzieci krzycz ni ma!
Oj-Oj co to jest,
Czy to Chasyd
Czy to pies?
  Again a Hasid to a Rabbi
Children yell: theres not!
Oy, Oy, what is there,
Is it a Hasid,
Or is it a dog?

Farsarget Farpachket, Farflekt:
Soiled. Di hoyzn zynen farsarget mit blotteh.

Speaking Yiddish in a Polish accent, in contrast to the Zambrow Litvak-Yiddish: She is from Pultusk, so she speaks with the vowels stretched out. Ni kim shoyn, gai shoyn, levooneh, ekh, etc, instead of: Nu kum shayn, gay shayn, levoneh, ikh,

Farfelneh Hittl
A Barashkov winter hat that looks like it had farfel shaken over it.

a. A passenger in a wagon. The wagon drivers would say thus: In der boyd forn 13 parshayn.
139 The root for this is the word person.
b. A handsome man. Er iz a parshayn, shayn vi di velt!

Small plump pletzls, baked from a cheap, dark flour, which was called poszlienda. In the shtetl, there was a renown elementary school Melamed, who was also my Rebbe, R Israel Chaim Fleischer, who was called: Yisroel Chaim mit di podliashkehs, apparently because he was fond of eating them.

These were blows that children would administer to those who lost a game. A handkerchief was rolled up in the form of a
nagaika140 and then used to hit the victim.

An expression used to belittle someones doing. In folk argot: Pitch-potch umafli laassot. This was as good as:
Hot opgetohn, gevashn di hent, gezogy, Asher Yotzar, un poter141.

A Russian Ruble, a kerbl. This is how we talked among ourselves, so that gentiles would not understand us: it is worth a faygl, a half-faygl. There was a Russian eagle printed on the Ruble note: a faygl.

Faynbroyt --This was how a loaf of bread was called if it was half-black.

A Flok Arayn...
Children would overhear a variety of old-wives' tales in the Bet HaMedrash, between the afternoon and evening prayers, or in the street, in the evenings, while they were playing. After the story was told, one of them would get up and say: A fleck goes in a fleck goes out the story is finished!

Someone who prattles incessantly, or someone who cant keep a secret. (See bolbet).

Fliokh Fliokendreh
A female busybody, who runs around, and does not sit at home.

The powder from rotten wood [sawdust?], which is used at the time of a ritual circumcision, to stem any bleeding from the cut. The Shammes would bring prukhneh to the home where a Brit Milah was to take place.

A kennel for dogs. During winter, when it would be intensely cold in the house, one might say: it is as cold as a psharniyeh.

Fichmoomkeh (Pitchmoomkeh?)
An expression applied to a woman who feigns piety and goodness, but in truth she is being false.... possibly from Hungarian?

A flute (???) that does something hurriedly, or, words uttered that were not properly thought out.

Tsushteln a Benkeleh
To tell to a father that his son is going in a bad direction, so that he will lay him across a bench and spank him:
Ikh vell dir shoyn tsushteln a benkeleh farn tatn!143 or, Farn Rebbn! Children would tremble upon hearing this. On occasions when when the father, or the Rebbe, did put down a child on a bench and strap him, the children would stand around and sing:

Geshmissener tokhes
Oyf drei brokhes!
Fun oybn a latteh,
Fun untn a shmatteh,
Dos benkeleh shtayt,
Der rut shmeisst!
Der tokhes reist!
  The spanked rear end
hould be for a triple blessing!
A patch on top,
 rag underneath,
The little bench stands,
The switch whips!
The rear end hurts!

Tsigeleh Migeleh We would sing...

Tsigeleh Migeleh, veks in krigeleh
Roiteh pomerantzen!
Az der tateh shlogt der mamen
Geyen di kinder tantzen!
As der tateh fort avek,
Geyt di mameh aryn in bet.
Az der tateh kumt tsu forn,
Vert di mameh a kimpetorn.
Khapt der tateh a fyertop,
Un makht der mameh a lokh in kop!
Veynen di kinderlach: oyvey!
Shrayt der tateh: siz gut azay!

  Baby goat, wax in a jar
Red oranges!
When the father beats the mother
The children go off to dance!
Should the father travel away,
The mother takes to the bed.
When the father travels back,
The mother becomes with child.
The father grabs a coal scuttle,
And makes the mother a hole in the head!
Should the children then cry out:
he father shouts: its good this way!

A quill that had a cross-shape at its tip, and wrote well. Other quills were: a shiflkeh in the shape of a ship, a lamed-feder in the form of the letter lamed, etc.

With every game they played, the children used to count, who was to go find the hidden people, who has to locate a place to stand, etc. Accordingly, there were different ways to count:

1. Using a line from the prayers, in which the one tagged with the last word goes free.

2. Using another line from the prayers, in which the one tagged with the last word goes free.

3. The coppersmith: each player puts a finger on the hip of one person, and another person counts: Once there was a coppersmith, who had a kettle to hammer out, and he did not know how many nails to drive in. He hammers in one, hammers in two, hammers in three go out free. And the one on whom the last word falls, indeed goes free.

4. Enneh-Menneh, Kuri Fenneh, Otvo Drotvo, Kuripotvo ik Pan Bobek Frets. The one who was designated with Frets went free.

5. Pulling on knots. We used to bring together the four corners of a handkerchief, making a knot on one of them. The one who drew the corner with the knot was the one to play, or goes looking.

Tsimmes I told you and told you and told you:

Az khassidimlakh firrn zikh bnimess:
A gantseh vokh, arbeitn zey dokh,
Un Shabbes essn zey dem tsimmes!
  When Hasidim comport themselves appropriately:
They work for the entire week, though,
And eat their tsimmes on the Shabbat!

(From a song of the Mitnagdim about Hasidim)

Kozholkehs Turning somersaults, or cartwheels (head over heels).

Kozheleh Baran
Er makht fun ihm Kozheleh Baran, He is making sport of him. Taken from a Slavic folk tale.

Kotcherehs mit Lopetehs
If someone writes, using large and ungainly letters, it would be noted that: Er schreibt Kotcherehs mit Lopetehs! These are two implements used by bakers. The first is used to shovel out the ashes from the oven, and the second to seat the bread dough in the oven and to remove it when it is baked.

Katchkeh Drelekh
When someone would begin reciting El Melech the children would rejoin with:
katchkeh drelekh
Mir ohn epply, dir a makkeh in keppl.
144 [Isaac Bashevis] Singer records another variant: El Melech, katchkeh drelekh, mir ohn broyt, dir a makkeh in boykh...145 (from A World That No Longer Exists, p. 180).

This was how one referred to a collapsed and not ??? loaf of bread or Challah. Kolats also refers to oil seeds from which the oil had been pressed out, and had been pressed into bricks, and sold as cattle feed.

A special type of flower, or leaf, which is drunk, and is steeped in hot water to get
rumianek146 a cure used to rinse out eyes that didnt feel well, and especially to drink when one has a kopvaytik.(a headache).

Kapintl A chapter of Tanakh, instead of kapitl.

Kutchkeh Baran
Carrying a child on ones back, in the manner that one would carry a baran (a ram) to be sold. There was also a childs game by this name.

A woven basket similar to a trough in which the fisherman would hold fish for sale.

What dos the little chicken say when she crows at daybreak? She recites song! She says: Eier layg ikh, borvess gay ikh, kukeriku! I lay eggs, I go barefoot, kukeriku!

Kliatch An epithet for a fat girl147, from klacz Polish for a mare.

Klyt, Klytl, also Krom Kreml (from the Russian клет).
In Lomza, this was called a boodl.

Kliepak A coin, worn down from rubbing, that the children would play with.

A deep depression in a river, from which water flows. It is dangerous to swim near a kesslgrub. The kesslgub near Shimsheleh, every summer, attracts a living thing therefore, at the beginning of the summer, the custom was to drown a cat, or a dog there, so that it would be possible to bathe in that vicinity.

Kosher food provided for the Jewish soldiers to eat, who were on duty in the shtetl, so they would not have to eat trayf from the kessl. Special emissaries were sent to nearby and distant towns, such as R Shamehlejzor (Shammai-Eliezer), to gather money to underwrite Kessl-Kosher.

Kesslpoyk A large kettle drum in an orchestra.

This was the name given to a woman who loved cats, and who devoted herself to them, as if they were little children.

From Polish, meaning a step. It was used to describe the fly on a pair of pants, that is closed with buttons. Your fly is open, button yourself up!

To crawl around on your hands and feet. Small children kroshkeveh, before they are able to stand up and walk.

Royeh Zein
To keep an eye on the gentile, lest he snatch something away from the store.
Zei royeh aufn orel!150 one would say, so that he not comprehend what is meant (see above: Mavin kol Dibbur)

Roiter Kollner
Refers to a Russian policeman, a стражник, who wore red stripes at their collar. He was also called a schmirrer from the word shomer,
shmirah,151 and ornament.

Reiback Reibekhts
(Ulnik ????, a doughy substance): A grated potato baked in a tin form, the way either kichel or
challah is baked.

Small dumplings made from grated potatoes, that are cooked in water, soup, or milk.

Reibn Araynreibn
To consume, with gusto. A bit of bread was left over so the children consumed it with gusto in the dark (from a folk song, about a stepmother).

Shvestero A wicked gentile sister. See tatero, brudero.

The water in which feet were soaked, that became brown, and acquired a bad odor. This was called Schuster-kvass. The wives of the shoemakers, whose husbands were not making a living, would say to their husbands angrily:

Schuster-Kvass, Zoll dir lign a Khalass!
Schuster-Broyt Zoll di lign tsum toyt!
  Shoemakers soda Let it lie in your ???
Shoemakers bread Let it lie with you till death!

Shurdeh Burdeh Killeh....
[A game] played with circles and stripes. Two long lines were scored into the ground, and two other lines were drawn perpendicular to them, crossing them. One side would defend the area, not letting others through to reach the marked area. Should someone get through, his partner would make three circles in all three corners, and he would then lose. He would be called shurdeh (for the first circle), burdeh for the second, and killeh for the third. If he loses a second time: he is called:
Kil-noyeh, Kil-yoyeh, bembereh! An elision from the Hagaddah of Ki lo naeh, ki lo yaeh bimhera beyamenu. It would also be used in other games.

Elided from shturkats. A burning little package that would be carries while singing, leading a bride and groom to the wedding canopy, or on Simchat Torah at night, when one would go to the

Shtumeh Lielyeh
This was said of someone who did not know how to offer a reply.

A young Heder boy, who was not yet toilet-trained. In the plural it is shtunkfasses. Chaim Reuven the Melamed had a Heder filled with

A Shtroff...
Our Rebbe would tell us that in olden times, children would receive severe punishment from the Rebbe. The victims pants would be pulled down, revealing the private parts, with grain sprinkled over them, and the little chickens called in to pick at the grains on those parts. The little boy would be held down by the others, not permitting him to move! When the children would act up, the Rebbe would threaten us by saying: Remember, I will call on the little chickens shortly, and then woe unto you!

Shtryker (Striker)
A socialist. This is how the organized socialist-workers were called in Zambrow, in the fifth year (1905), because of the strikes that the workers would often call for. In folk talk: Stryger.

Shitkovaneh Broyt
A special half-white bread, baked out of sifted roseate flour. In other places (Lomza) it was referred to as half-satin bread, because the flour was sifted through a sieve made of satin thread.

Sholom Aleichem!
Sholom Aleichem
would be the initial greeting when encountering a stranger, followed by the question: And where might this Jewish person come from? Children would sing as follows:

Sholom Aleichem, foon vanen a Yid?
(Or, Sholom Aleichem? A guter Yid!)
Halber tokhes obgebrieht!
  Sholom Aleichem, from where is the Jew?
(Or Sholom Aleichem? A good Jew!)
With half his behind scalded!

A person acting like an apostate. Meaning that he does not wash before eating, does not pray, and even violates the Sabbath.

A derisory term, derived from the the Polish word, odpust, which refers to a Catholic procession, especially on summer Sundays.

Trivia, Doss un Yents, He bought a shmontseh and a dlonieh, and ended up paying a lot of money for it (heard from elderly Jews).

Someone who is a snoop, who goes about sniffing into everything, to see if there is something not in order. There was a chorister with the Hazzan, one of the first members of the chorus, which he had brought in from Odessa, and he was called this, because of the way he behaved.

Shimshn HaGibber
If someone would say: He is a strong as Samson (Shimshn HaGibber), the other party would make a joke of it and say: mittn lekhl ariber (over the hole).

20 Kopikehs Kost a Sherl
Boys and girls, at a wedding, would dance the Sher (a shereleh), and pay the musicians twenty kopecks for playing it. Little boys, from underneath the window, would sing:

Tsvantsik kopikehs kost a sherl
Doss iz dokh gantz tyer!
Az a bokher tantst mit a maedel
Brennt in ihm a fyer!


The Sher costs twenty kopecks
This is rather expensive!
[But]when a boy dances with a girl
A fire burns inside of him!

A wagon drivers assistant, an apprentice, that is learning how to handle a horse and wagon. In other cities
153, this was the term used to describe a Jewish person who would do a deal with a train conductor, paying him a specified sum, in place of buying train tickets which cost a great deal more.

Shkyakh .
An elision of Yasher Koach, being a means of expressing thanks. When a kohen would descend from the
bima after performing the Dukhan (priestly blessing), it was customary to say: Shkyakh Kohen!, to which he would angrily reply: Brekh a beyn! (Break a Bone) or Brokh tihiyeh (may a calamity befall you) in place of Baruch tihiyeh (may you be blessed)154.

Tehillim Zogn
Those more liberal sorts, who would afflict themselves by not eating or sleeping, in order to lose weight, would call the nights they did this Tehillim Zogn.

B. The Jewish Agricultural Calendar in Zambrow

Group of Young Girls

A Sewing Circle, Operated by a Group of Young Girls

When we were driven from our homeland, and became scattered and spread out across the world, we also lost our relationship to Mother Earth. In the lands of the Diaspora, we no longer committed ourselves to working the land. However, a little bit at a time, we acclimatized ourselves to the climate of our surroundings, and together with the Torah portion of the week, and the Festivals, we fashioned a green calendar, meaning: the vegetables and fruits of the season became woven into the Jewish calendar and Jewish customs. I will here recall that green calendar, from my little shtetl of Zambrow, in the first decade of the twentieth century.

A. The Month of Nissan. Observant Jews go out into the fields to bestow a blessing on the trees that are beginning to bloom.

B. The Parsha of Shemini. When the parsha of Shemini is read, the stork comes flying in from warmer climates. This was a sign to the огородникй155 to conclude their negotiations with the nobility and with the priest, concerning the maintenance and care of the garden or orchard. At the same time, a Jewish man, from deep inside Russia would come to negotiate in the Zambrow gardens. Accordingly, he was called The Stork.

C. Karpas. So we would begin to consult with one another what to use for karpas at the Seder which green vegetable is most appropriate of the Passover at hand parsley, a baby carrot, or a small potato altogether?

D. Pepper. The Zambrow Rabbi forbade the use of pepper, during Passover, because the pepper merchants would adulterate the pepper with flour, to add weight... but how can you eat fish without pepper? What kind of taste would that have? So we got clever: We brought pepper from Lomza, bearing a Hekhsher from the Lomza Rabbi, because the Lomza Rabbi permitted the use of pepper on Passover: Moshe Aharon Hefner, the big-time colonial merchant would bring pepper, and personally have it ground.

E. On the First Day of Passover, the wagon drivers, and other owners of horses, would send their horses out onto the field to pasture, after the winter days. So it was said: On the First Day of Passover, Az mBencht Tal Fihr aroys dem pferd fun shtall156.

In the days before Passover Eve, a type of sour grass would sprout in the fields, that the gentiles called Hallelujah following the song from their Easter prayers.

F. Rosh Chodesh Radishes. After Passover, the small radishes begin to ripen, either red or white. They were called Rosh Chodesh radishes or riebelakh because they become ripe at the beginning of the month. The children of the gardeners would bring the first bunch of radishes, as a gift for their Rebbe in Heder.

G. Lag BOmer. The children would say Lakh-Boymer because the trees laugh, and are happy when they grow. The teachers would go for a stroll into the forest with their students, and have a good time there.

H. The Parsha of Emor. This weekly portion that comes out before Shavuot, always comes when the Jews were shearing wool off of the sheep that they would lease from the nobility. The first of the wool would be used to spin ritual fringes (tzitzit), saying: Parshat Emor (Emmer) shert men di lemmer.157

I. Shavuot. A Festival Holiday of Greens: On the eve of the holiday, we would go to tear up bluszcz ??? with which to decorate the windows, and to spread out on the floor. Bread was even baked over bluszcz instead of spreading coal out underneath. A pale girl, a grinzukh was called a griner Shavuess in Zambrow.

J. Akdamot. The poktchorehs from the surrounding villages would provide Jewish Zambrow with butter, sour cream and cheese for Shavuot. It was not necessary to buy from a gentile. Those who had goats for milk, would tether them near the synagogue, or Bet HaMedrash, on Shavuot in the morning, so they could hear the recitation of Akdamot, this being considered a good luck charm leading to the production of much milk....

K. The Parsha of Korakh. It is summer time. The first fruit appears in the city. On this week, the black berries come up in the woods. One would say: Today, the earth swallowed up Korakh and has in turn given us berries. Children would make juice: They would pour berries into a small bottle, with a little bit of sugar, squash it all up with a small piece of wood, licking it, and thereby coloring their mouths and cheeks black. At the time of the reading of this weekly portion, the following would also appear: red cherries, and the horseradishes to be used for khrayn. And it was, therefore, said: these three mentioned items, are the acronym (in Hebrew) of the portion, Korakh.

L. The Wheat for Shmura Matzo. At this time, a report was received that the wheat in the fields was ripe for harvest. Accordingly, the observant Jews would organize themselves, travel out into the fields of the gentiles, buy up parcels of land that had wheat growing on them, and they would dry it out and polish it for Shmura Matzo for Passover. The Golombecks, who had their own fields, would provide wheat for Shmura Matzo for a not insignificant number of Jews, and this was their mitzvah.

M. Tisha BAv. And here comes Tisha BAv. The children would, towards evening, in time for the recitation of Kinot, go to the cemetery, picking the prickly growth from the bushes, for the purpose of throwing them that evening into the hair of girls, and into the beards of the Jewish men. Accordingly, on Tisha BAv, the girls would go about with their hair tied up in kerchiefs, and the bearded Jewish men would be watchful about their beards.

N. Little Diaspora Apples. The black Golshe-Eppelekhripen by Shabbat Nahamu, from whose juice ink is made for writing Torah Scrolls. We would call them Goluss-Eppelekh (Little Diaspora Apples) and this was appropriate for Shabbat Nahamu, when we are comforted with words to emerge from the blackness of exile.

O. Apples. The best offer of hospitality was a small apple. Shabbes-Oybst would mean to be honored with a juicy apple. Sour apples were called the apples of Sodom, and the little apples that grew wild alongside the roads, and on the cemeteries, were called Kvoress eppelakh (Apples of the Cemetery). A lout would be ejected from the Bet HaMedrash as if he were a sour apple.

P. Rosh Hashanah Apples. Red, juicy apples would be stored until Rosh Hashanah, over which the Second Night blessing of SheHekheyanu would be recited, after which slices of apple would be dipped in honey. In the later years, green grapes and red watermelons would be brought in from Warsaw and Bialystok.

Q. Small Kol Nidre Pears. The gentiles would sell sacks of miniature pears, that grew wild in the woods, at the end of the summer. The poor Jews would dine on these. That is why they were called Kol Nidre pears. Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, they would be spread out on a bed of straw, up in the attic, and permit them to age. They would turn brown, and were not particularly good to eat, at which point they were called Yengalkehs.

R. Skhakh. The branches of pine trees would serve as skhakh for the sukkah. Accordingly, these trees were called skhakh all year round. By contrast, without drawing a parallel, during Christmas, when the gentiles would decorate these trees with all manner of tiny lights, and colored paper, it was then called an Idol-Tree making reference to the gentile deity.

S. Zydkowska Wisznia. The sukkah would also be decorated with the skhakh of the kolina. This was a special variety that had kolinas as large as cherries. The gentiles would bring this for sale at Sukkot time and call it Jewish Cherries.

T. Hoshanot. During Hol HaMoed Passover, the children would make whistles out of the leaves of the willow tree (the tree of Hoshanot). The wood would be carefully pulled out of the twig, and make a flute out of the soft core. One the eve of Hoshana Rabba groups of children would go off into the distant fields, near the swamps, cut off the twigs and small branches from the willows, and bring them into the city to sell them as Hoshanot.

U. A Small Garden of Eden Apple. This is what the gentiles called an Etrog. Fyvkeh the Shoemaker would carry around the community Etrog throughout the holiday, from house to house, so that the womenfolk would be able to bless the Etrog in the morning, and then grab something to eat. He watched it like a hawk (with seven eyes as it were) so that no pregnant woman accidentally bite off the tip before Hoshana Rabbah.

V. Simchat Torah. During Hol HaMoed Sukkot, the new Gabbaim were selected by the various study houses. The new Gabbai would then treat the congregants with wine-flavored apples for the Hakafot.

W. The Parsha of Noah. We would begin storing up fruit and wood for the winter. The double windows were installed, cellars were filled with potatoes, carrots, beets, and the small windows were plugged up with rags and straw so that the fruit should not freeze.

X. Putting Up the Kraut. The gentiles would bring wagons full of cabbage for preservation. For this purpose, neighboring ladies and members of the family would get together to help cut up the cabbage for soaking in a large barrel. So we would eat and cook sauerkraut for the entire winter, and half the summer. The women would not permit the children to eat the glombehs ??? from the ??? cabbage on the belief that it dulls the senses for purposes of learning.

Y. The Parsha of Miketz. Very cold frosts. The children, however, would think about the warm fields of Egypt, where the Pharaohs fat and lean cows took their pasture, In Heder, the children would make a translated ditty out of Miketz: Maczek kup Czapkeh [sic: from Polish], meaning, Maczek, buy a hat because it is cold. This always falls out a Hanukkah time, and the children would further expand the acronym to be: Melamdim Kummen Tsum Hoyz, meaning that the students [melamdim] from the villages, who would return to their homes in honor of Shabbat Hanukkah. The tsimmes would be made from parsnips.

Z. Nuts from the Land of Israel. At about the same time, nuts from the Land of Israel would appear in the stores, also called pistachios because they are mentioned in the portion of the week. Jacob told his sons to take this, and bring it as a gift to the ruler of Egypt, who is selling them grain.

Children would say that these nuts grew on the cemetery, and when such a nut is opened you see the head of a Jewish man.

AA. Little Hanukkah Candles. Under the eaves of a roof, and on windows, little stalactites of ice would form. The children would call them little Hanukkah candles.

AB. Hanukkah Cheese. During Hanukkah, especially hard cheese was sold, which was salted, peppered, and covered with czarneszka ??? So we called it Hanukkah Cheese, which Judith gave to Holofernes to eat.

AC. A Special Entreaty for Trees. On the Sabbath when blessings were recited to usher in the new month of Shevat, a special entreaty was recited for trees that they grow and blossom in the Land of Israel, and that they not be harmed by the frost.

AD. Shabbat Shira. Buckwheat groats were scattered under the windows for the little birds as a memorial to the Manna that fell in the desert, as is read in that weeks portion.

AE. Khrayn for Passover. In the same portion, one reads the words tishlakh kharonkha [sic: send thy wrath] which served as a reminder to bury the horseradish in the sand, so that it be ready and good for use on Passover for the Seder.

AF. Perlkasheh Cholent. On that same Shabbat Shira, pearl groats [kasha] would be put into the cholent. Immediately after this Sabbath, one would begin to air out and gather the shmura-wheat, pouring it into pristine white linen receptacles, and hang it up on blocks from the ceiling until after Purim.

AG. Fruits of the Fifteenth. This was the name given to such fruits as bokser (carob pods), figs, dates and raisins, that were bought in honor of the fifteenth day of Shevat [Tu BShvat]. The fruits themselves were called khamishosser [elided fifteen]: git mir far a kopikeh khamishosser158.

AH. Aarons Cane. Children believe that this was the week in which Aarons cane bloomed in the desert and gave forth almonds. In the Land of Israel, this is actually the time when the almond tree does bloom.

AI. Goat-Bokser. On the fifteenth day of Shevat, the nanny goat becomes a celebrity in the Land of Israel, because Goat-Bokser is eaten there. We would sing: Lamnatsayakh Mizor Shir Kozheneh Bokser Essn Mir.159 In the cradle song, one also sang: Di tsigeleh iz gegangen handlen Rozhinkehs mit Mandlen.

AJ. An Etrog Prayer. The Hasidim would go out into the woods on Tu BShvat and offer a prayer there on behalf of the Etrog, asking that it grow well, for the rest of the season, and that we be privileged to have a good Etrog become available on the following Sukkot.

AK. The Very Intense Cold Frosts. The most intensely cold frosts would come during Shevat, and therefore it would be said: Shevat nie Brat Shevat is no Brother It is cold. Also, it was said:

Shevat halt dem PRT: Frest, Regen, Tuman [Frost, Rain and Fog] three good icons of the month.

AL. Shabbat Khazak. Parshat of Vayakhayl-Pekuday Makht men a Seudeh,160 in Heder, because this is the time of year when the young boys stop studying at night. In the Bet HaMedrash, when the Reader would conclude the Pentateuch, the reading in the Torah, with the words, Khazak, Khazak! all the children would respond: Kazak, khazak, a shissl pasternak!161 Indeed, on that Shabbat, a parsnip tsimmes would be made.


With the arrival of the month of Adar, the green calendar of my birth shtetl comes to an end a place that to our everlasting sorrow, is no longer green.

C. Purim in the Shtetl

With the arrival of Purim everyone in the shtetl began to disguise themselves, old and young, the important people in the town from Hakhnosas Orkhim or Hakhnosas Kalleh would disguise themselves literally as if they were generals: red long trousers, with a wide blue belt over them, as long as the external garment, and a red jacket with gold epaulettes and shiny buttons. A mask on the face, and a tall hat on the head, with a sword at the side. Dressed in this royal garb, they would go from house-to-house, in order to collect monies for the benefit of brides from poor families or for other poor Jewish people. After Purim, they would donate these clothes to Hakhnosas Orkhim, where the Shammes, Binyomkeh Schuster, or the Gabbai Hershl Tukhman (Hershl Pokczar) would lock them up in a bureau until Purim of the following year. When strikers would appear in the shtetl, who wanted to dethrone Nicholas II, the страший-старжник (most senior police officer), Bomishov162 suspected that these people in costume, with their swords, were in earnest, and want to become generals and admirals. He therefore issues a prohibition against costuming. Accordingly, the Rabbi took responsibility, and locked up the costume wear at his own home in the shtibl of the Bet-Din.

The children would [also] dress up in costumes on Purim. They would tear our a double quarter from a koyet mostly the colored outer pages; they would fold the lower half into a mask, to put under their chin, making two small holes above, for the eyes, a triangular cutout in the middle for the nose, and a small wide cut for the mouth. Anyone who could draw would add a couple of eyebrows, and a moustache. Others would paste on some cotton or ??? a beard and side locks and lo it became a mask. In the parlance of the shtetl, this was a mashgara, which comes from an Italian word that is as good as mask mascara. Italian street players, who used to entertain at the fairs in Poland, brought this word [into the country]. Accordingly, the children would put on the mashgara, and go from house-to-house, singing:

Heint iz Purim,
Morgn iz oys,
Git mir a groschen
Un varft mir aroys...


Today is Purim,
Tomorrow it is over,
Give me a groschen
And throw me out...

The Purim actors (Purim Shpieler) injected a special form of joy into the shtetl. The women in our courtyard would tell us how at one time, a group of boys and girls got together and decided to perform on Purim, in the Womens Synagogue of the White Bet HaMedrash, by putting on the play, The Selling of Joseph. The proceeds would be for the benefit of the poor. The men played all the female parts. All the women did was prepare the costumes and the scenery. The singing of the artists reverberated through the shtetl for a long, long time. My mother, may she rest in peace, would sing along the words of Joseph the Tzaddik, at the time that his father came to him in Egypt:

Khbin gekummen kein Mitzrayim a boymeleh flanzen,
Kum tateh Yaakov, lomir baydeh tanzen...
   I have come to Egypt to plant a tree,
 Come father Jacob, let us both dance...

However, the women would add, it is not permitted to put on a theatrical performance in a holy place like the Womens Synagogue. Because of this, all the performers were punished. Some of them even died prematurely, and Hershl Tukhmans wife, who sewed the clothes for the costumes, was punished, in that she was unable to bear children...

I recall that, in Purim of the year 1905, when a revolution reigned in Russia, the Yeshiva students decided to put on the play, David and Goliath, in the Rabbis large salon, as usual without his knowledge. His son, Chaim-David (today Rabbi and Yeshiva Headmaster in Chicago), took out the special costume clothing from the bureau, in order to dress themselves up as Philistines. At that time, I was six years old. I was barely able to squeeze myself into the premises, and saw the first ever play of my life. After the songs of the Jews and the Philistines, King Saul emerges, wearing a golden crown, sits down on the royal throne and sings:

Ich bin der Koenig Shaul, Har fun der Velt,
Ihr zent meineh yoiatsim, ir zent far mir geshtellt.
  I am King Saul, ruler of the world,
You are my advisers, you stand before me.

And then a large, tall gentile emerges, costumed and moves like Jozef the Shabbos-Goy, who lodges in the bathhouse, and heats it up on Friday, living the entire week off the proceeds of earth and clay pot lids, heating them up in the bathhouse oven, and on the Sabbath, going from house-to-house, heating ovens, and getting, at each location, a bit of Challah and a shot of whiskey, the first glass of tea, and on Sunday a kopeck as well.

And so, Goliath the Philistine stands there, and sings in front of the Jewish soldiers:

Ich bin Golyass, gor der groyser held,
Ikh bin der shtarkster fun der gantser velt,,
Ver svet gayn mit mir milkhomeh haltn,
Dem vell ikh dem kop tsushpaltn,
Dem vell ikh in drerd farbaltn.
   I am Goliath, a truly great hero,
I am the strongest in the world
Whoever chooses to do battle with me,
I will split his head [open],
And hide him away deep in the ground.

A deathly fear possesses everyone: who is it that will [dare to] challenge such a great hero? A little boy appears, wearing the cap of a Hasid, with curled side locks, and a small black kapote, holding a shepherds sack and walking stick, and shouts into Goliaths ear: You, Goliath, you Goliath. I will do battle with you, I will split your head, and I will hide you deep in the ground.

A shiver runs through everyones bones: This diminutive David is he going to assault such a large gentile? So the hero Goliath entreats him going up to him like Jozef the drunkard:

'Klayn Dovidl, klayn Dovidl, avek fun mir,
Khgib dir a potch fliestu tsum tir.
  Little David, little David, get away from me,
Ill give you a slap youll fly to the door.

And here, Goliath adds a line, unique to Zambrow: Ikh gib dir a potch fliestu kayn Gacz, because Gacz is a small shtetl near Zambrow.

Goliath has not yet indicated that he has finished his song, and a stone has already smitten and entered his head. He falls down. David beheads him, meaning his mask, and the Jews are victorious. Saul was at war and wanted the witch to raise Samuel from his grave. The witch is made up as a ketzlmameh a Jewish woman in the shtetl without a husband, who would raise a house full of cats. It was said of her that she was a witch, and had dealings with devils, and in this instance she was called Martiszka ( this is how a monkey is called in Russian). She raises the Prophet Samuel, who comes out of a barrel, all in white...

After the play, one went around from one to the next, with hat in hand, and asked for payment for the play: please make a charitable contribution, make a charitable contribution, dont embarrass yourselves in front of fine people take out a twenty-fiver, we can give you change.

The following day, the police came to the Rabbis residence to investigate who here had put on revolutionary theater. It had the appearance that they were informed by David Yudes the son of the elderly midwife, who was a Feldscher and a barber, who was in cahoots with the police, and even legally carried a revolver with him.

D. The Fifth Year (1905)

Three Reputable Workingmen: Shlomo Pekarewicz (a butcher), David Podruzhnik
(a house painter) and Chaim Burstein (a tailor). The children are not identified.

It was the Sunday of the Parsha of Noah. I was being taught at Bercheh the Melamed, and I was six years old. News had arrived that the Czar had signed the constitution [sic: into law] and that a demonstration was to take place on the Ostrow Road. Secretly, it was also passed along that Yossl Mazik (a son of Meir-Yankl Mordikamen) is making a flag on which will be drawn the head of a pig, over which will be the Russian crown...

Bercheh the Melamed was, indeed, the spiritual leader of the strikers, the Jewish revolutionaries in Zambrow. He therefore sent out all the children from his Heder, to go run and tell all the other Melamdim, that Heder should be canceled for the day: when the Czar has signed the constitution that certainly is a time of festival celebration, and one should not be learning in school. I ran along with several other young boys, with Ruvkeh, Berchehs oldest son, to Pinia the Melamed. Pinia rained down a murrain on our heads. His son, however, who was also grabbed up in this event, and sympathized with the revolutionaries, dismissed his fathers Heder, and told the little children to go tell their fathers and mothers that redemption had come, that Thank God we have aconstitution.163

The streets are redolent with revolution. So we, the little boys, go running to the Ostrow Road, through the swamps, near the bridge, to see how the constitution is being received. The road was black with children covering it, workers, young and old. It was already dusk. A cold wind was blowing. Our teeth were chattering, but I held on fast: I remained to see what was going to take place here. Suddenly, Itzl Rosenberg arrives, the older son of Malka Cymbel, a shoemaker, and he takes out a red handkerchief from under his jacket, ties it to a stick, raises up this standard on high, and shouts out: Tsar daloy! the equivalent of Down with the Czar, we dont need him any longer, after all, he, Malka Cymbels son, knows better. Everyone responds with the shout: Hurrah, Hurrah! Another person adds the shout: Tsan Kedoshim! and the throng again responds with Hurrah, Hurrah! The wooden bridge literally swayed. It was as if from under the ground, the Oviezdner sprouted, the most senior police officer, Bomishov, a squat rotund gentile, who was given the appellation: kelberner zodek164 with a red chin, and the nose of a drunkard, holding one hand at the hilt of his sword, and the other on his revolver, and orders the crowd to disperse. He does not know how to deal with this situation: to disperse this illegal demonstration doesnt seem quite right, after all, the Czar has signed the constitution. However, not to disperse it, is also difficult to digest: where is his prestige and might? Meanwhile, a group decided that they would pick up the police senior, and one of them shouted: kelberner zodek! to which the entire throng responded with, Hurrah, Hurrah!...



 The Hebrew alphabetical order has been retained..

75   Pick up your rear end and run there! Its value lies in the rhyme in Yiddish between Klin and Ahin
76   A nonsense rhyme: O ld, splitter, curl, hernia/Make a blessing over the forgiveness!
77   A Cossack brave and good!
78   A nonsense rhyme with Avrom the Yiddish pronunciation of the name.

Fat lady Baylah.

80   Nonsense rhyme of Mendl with Fendl a pot.

A rhyme of: If his name is Mendl it is permitted to eat from his pot/If his name is Nissl it is permitted to eat from his bowl. Often used as a way of validating the ritual appropriateness of eating food prepared by someone else, possibly not familiar to the party involved.

82   A nonsense rhyme ending with the racy line of Make a blessing over the sucking of the blood after a circumcision.
83   A nonsense rhyme, with the call for a small bottle of strong drink.

A nonsense rhyme for: Oy vey call the police Noodles and farfel without an egg!

85    A nonsense rhyme that makes sense only in Yiddish.
86   From the Russian word , %,R,D, meaning evening. Wieczera in Polish.

She took a handsome man as a husband.


Deceived , deceived in the gut, Moshe Yokhes, kiss my ass... A rhyming taunt that is effective in the original Yiddish, but loses its impact on translation.

89   It is woeful and painful to the life of a Batronchik/That he must travel away from his home/O, woe, one can become lost/It would be better already to no t have been born...
90   Bride, the stork will bring children.

He prattles constantly. He never closes his mouth.

92   A shrimp not yet grown up out of the earth!
93   A nonsense rhyme.

The gen tile woman h as some kind of brother he is worse than she is. The earth should take him in, and eject him ten times over.


An illness, an illness should lay him low, right in his belly.

96   She is a big fool, and doesnt understand anything from hither to thither.

The word geshmadet in Yiddish means to have converted away from Judaism. The inference here is to the lack of discipline and control of a gentile, i.e. his gullet has become like a gentiles gullet, and is insatiable.

98   The fat head.
99   He wolfed down a whole loaf of bread. Moshe and Aharon are sitting at the table, wolfing down rolls and eating fish.

For sure he was a water-carrier.

101   Authors footnote: a warm nest under the oven where a hen might lay an egg, from the Polish, kucza.


  He has go ne into the White Division.

A bit of a frost settled in, which later on became more intense. Polish: zib


An elflock, also known as the Polish plait usually results from deficient hair care. Uncombed hair becomes irreversibly entangled, forming a matted, malodorous and encrusted or sticky moist mass. It may be caused by or accompanied with lice infestation (pediculosis) and lead to inflammation of the scalp. The disease may be easily prevented by standard hygienic practices, such as washing and combing of the hair. Treatment involves cutting the affected hair.


Maybe he wont be agreeable? A homonym play on the Yiddish tomer and the Hebrew Tamar .

106   The girls are going dancing the band is ???

He is very hard on everything.

108   Possibly from RJR,:@, meaning a scrawny bird, scarecrow, or bugbear.
109   A possibly hybridization between R,:@&,8 (a man) and the ending mok.

 Possibly derived from Yavan, the Hebrew name for Greece. The re is a documented Yiddish epithet, a Yovn, referring to a Russian soldier.

111   Someone uncouth, ill-mannered.

Not to be confused with Endekists, who were m embers o f an anti-Semitic Polish political p arty in the 1930's.

113   When she sends him for flour she says it is yellow; when she sends him for sugar she says it is.
114   He sleeps away the whole day, and does nothing.

A Jew may drink, but a gentile guzzles.

116   May he go in my place! He sent his stand-in to purchase flour.
117   I have a big mess on my hands, I haven t swept the house out yet.
118   Literally, the board on which noodles were rolled out.
119   Literally, a skin covering.

A Jew sings songs, and a gentile just brays.

121   Hes been working at this, for the entire day, and repaired nothing.
122   Possibly a reference to Ivan Stepanovych Mazepa (1 639-17 09), Cossack Hetman of the Hetmanate in Left-bank Ukraine, from 1687-1708).
123   Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych K hmelnytsky, commonly transliterated as Khmelnytsky; Polish: Bohdan Zenobi Chmielnicki (c. 1595 - 1657) was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanateof PolishLithuanian Commonwealth (now Ukraine). He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates (16481654) which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state. During 1648-9, his anti-Semitic rampage resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews. In 1654, he concluded the Treaty o f Pereyaslav with the Tsardom of Russia, which led to the eventual loss of independence to the Russian Empire.

Ivan Gonta (died 1768) was one of the leaders of the Koliyivschyna, an armed rebellion of Cossacks against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

125   Motchek should live so long, if there is any truth to this!

A rhyme in itself, saying: It makes as much sense as a rhyme by Motchek.

127   A potter.
128   He look s like an abandoned waif.

Such ugliness, like a grotesque mask.

130   He understands everything being said, to the letter!

In Polish, a szyszka is a pine cone.

132   Pitch head.
133   In short, it wasnt much of a story!
134   It would seem this subtle difference in pronunciation is attributable to the difference between the Polish letter (with a trailing n sound) and the m ore familiar Latin a.
135   Related to the English paunch, which itself comes from the Anglo-Norman paunche, and Old French, pance. Hence the connection to the Romance languages.

The uncircumcised one kicked the bucket.

137   The trousers are soiled with mud.
138   Stretched out, as the vowels in the words.

There are thirteen passengers in the covered wagon.

140   The riding crop of a Cossack.
141   The sense of this, is that he did what he had to (i.e. used the bathroom), washed his hands, recited the proper blessing (Asher Yotzar), and was done with it.

Literally, a gas bag.

143   I will place a bench for you, before your father!

Me without apples, you with a shot in the head.

145   Me without bread, you a blow to the belly.
146   Polish for chamomile tea.

Translators note: It is an insight into the values of the speakers that here, the girl is no longer a maedel', but because she is fat, she becomes a moyd, an appellation that carries with it a derogatory sense.


The Russian is the word for a cage, while the Yiddish is the name given to a marketplace store. In Lomza, it would appear that they preferred a derivative from the word we k now as booth.

149   A kessel in German is a pot, related to the English word kettle.

Keep an eye out on that uncircumcised one!

151   The Hebrew cognate for being a watchman or a guardian.

Using the Hebrew cognate shmad to refer to the act of leaving the Jewish faith.


Authors footnote: From I. B. Singers A World that No Longer Exists. p. 79.


The hostility of the Kohens rejoinder is somewhat mystifying, but may lie in a proverb suggested to me by the Yiddishist Chaim Werdyger. The sanctity surrounding the Dukhan requires that the priests, offering the blessing, remove their outer footwear (see Exodus 3:5). It is possible that pranksters may have given rise to the following Yiddish saying: When the Kohanim are Dukhaning, their boots ar e stolen away. If true , it could exp lain the angry reply. Another school of thought suggests that this might be a stratagem to divert the Evil Eye away from someone who has just been blessed by the Kohanim.


Kitchen gardeners.

156   When the blessing for dew is recited (Tal), lead the horse out of the stall.

At the time of the parsha of Emor, the lambs are sheared.


Let me have a kopecks worth of the khamishosser.

159   Contrive to rhyme, it combines the Hebrew prelude to a Psalm: A song of the Com poser with the Yiddish ending, We are Eating Goat-Bokser.
160   Pekuday and Seudeh are meant to rhyme in this statement, that a feast is made for this portion, ending the reading of the Book of Exodus.

A rhyme intending to catch khazak and pasternak, referring to a bowl of parsnips.

162   Because of ambiguity in the pronunciation, this sometimes also appears as Bomishoff.

The time line is interesting. History tells us that Czar Nicholas II signed what is known in history as The October Manifesto on Sunday, October 30, 1905, pledging a constitution, and extended franchise, and civil liberties. The news apparently didnt reach Zambrow until one week later, Sunday, November 4. The level of instability is evident in this one of several episodes of serious unrest: Oct.31: A bloody pogrom breaks out in Odessa - the police stand by while five hundred Jews are murdered, and intervene only against Jewish self-defense units

164   The ass of a calf.


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