A Yiddish Survival Strategy: A Poem

By Stanley Siegelman

Published March 02, 2007, issue of March 02, 2007.

The Yiddish language, scorned and shunned,
Has had its day! It’s moribund!
It has no future! It is lost,
Destroyed by lingual holocaust!
The Yiddish tongue is trashed and burned,
Rejected, cast aside and spurned.
Recriminations such as these
Abound, as do the obsequies.

But let us take another look,
Befitting People of the Book,
Who sought the light for centuries
(Before there was Diogenes).
Is Yiddish really on the wane?
Should dirges be our sad refrain?
Should Yiddish voices now be still?
Is there a glottic funeral?
Or should we all reject with scorn,
The skeptics bidding us to mourn?

The English language makes wide use
Of Yiddish words, without excuse.
Consider: chutzpah, ganef, shmuts,
Tchotchke, nudnik, bopkes, putz.
— All words that make good English sense,
Embodiments of eloquence.

So this is how to stay alive,
And help our language to survive:
Make inroads into English speech!
This methodology we preach.
Let’s spread the word, ’mongst old and young,
And infiltrate the English tongue!

Soliloquies by Avon’s bard?
In Yiddish? What a drawing card!
Abe Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?
In Yiddish? (It’s Lincohn, they guess!)
Imagine how we’d be inspired,
If Trump, in Yiddish, yelled, “You’re fired!”
Bush lecturing about Iraq?
In Yiddish? What a novel tack!
Soon Katie Couric gives the news
In Yiddish! Such a treat for Jews!
Joe Lieberman spouts Yiddish lore,
As well befits this senator.

Mel Gibson quickly shifts his views
And says, in Yiddish, “Bless the Jews.”
A Yiddish joke is told to us
By Hillary, hilarious!
And would it really be so bad,
In Yiddish a Viagra ad?

We’ll slowly, thus, by small degrees,
Bring English to its very knees,
Supplanting it (assist, Oh Bush!)
With ever-lovin’ “mamalosh.”

Demise of Yiddish? Don’t be sure!
The Kaddish pray’r is premature!



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