A Very Yiddish Take on the Star Spangled Banner

How Stars and Stripes Became Farfl and Lokshn

Seeing Stars and Pasta: In the early part of the 20th century, poet Abraham Liessin used the expression fafl un lokshn to refer to the American flag.
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Seeing Stars and Pasta: In the early part of the 20th century, poet Abraham Liessin used the expression fafl un lokshn to refer to the American flag.

By Philologos

Published May 26, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
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The poem continues, mocking the Communists’ changed strategy of backing Roosevelt’s New Deal and adopting the language of American patriotism:

Ot itzt, ven tsulib dem fareyniktn front
farzorgt men fun tsenter: altz “dant” un altz “dant,”
hot emetsn grad zikh on Sereh’n dermant.

Now that it’s all the vogue to declare a
Popular Front and the center is where a
left-winger should be, they’re remembering Sereh.

Men fokht dokh shoyn lang mit di farfl un lokshn,
un nit mit der fon der royt-proletarisher;
men shteyt far di makht-hober pod-kozirak shoyn,
un mit a farentferung mit aza narisher;
vayl vi men zol dreydlen un pshetlen derbay —
men vert dokh shoyn fort a regirungs-partay.

The farfl un lokshn now waves jauntily
instead of the red proletarian banner,
and one stands and salutes the powers that be
while explaining it all in an upside-down manner;
yet however it’s twisted and turned by some smarty,
one now is a part of the ruling party.

It’s easy to see why “farfl and lokshn” should have become a jocular Yiddish term for the American flag. Lokshn are noodles, the most common kind of which used in the Jewish kitchen are long, stripe-shaped ones resembling fettuccine or tagliatelle. Farfel is pasta, too, but small and round; often called egg barley, it has the shape of a bead or pellet — or, if you wish, of a star. Farfl un lokshn would have been, in pre-Popular Front days, a fine way of making fun of Old Glory.


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