Growing up, my dad’s grandparents lived with him and his mom. Apparently, the adults would sometimes communicate in Yiddish, presumably so the kids couldn’t understand what they were saying.
Armed with this knowledge, I decided to look up some Yiddish phrases. Have you ever perused Yiddish proverbs? They’re great! Not to mention very applicable to parenting. They’re so curmudgeonly and old-school, yet prescient. This language needs to come back into fashion to be used on our children.
Here are some gems courtesy of Yiddish Wit.
On People to Avoid
Zayn vort zol zayn a brik, volt ikh moyre gehat aribertsugeyn.
Loosely translated: If his word were a bridge, I’d be afraid to cross it.
In other words: That person’s a big old liar. Punch and delete.
Yeder mentsh hot zikh zayn pekl.
Loosely translated: Everyone has his own burden.
In other words: Get over yourself.
Oyd di bobe volt gehat a bord, volt zi geven a zeyde.
Loosely translated: If grandma had a beard, she would be a grandpa.
In other words: Granny needs a pair of tweezers for Hanukkah?
On Keeping Dangerous Company
Shtek nit dem kop tsum volf in moyl arayn.
Loosely translated: Do not stick your head in a wolf’s mouth.
In other words: Careful who you hang out with.
Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.
Loosely translated: Man plans; God laughs.
In other words: We’re going to be late to school. Again.
Fun leydike feser iz der lyarem greser.
Loosely translated: Empty barrels make the most noise.
In other words: Insecure people try hard to get noticed.
A ber lernt men oykh oys tantsn.
Loosely translated: Even a bear can learn to dance.
In other words: Don’t give up.
On Life Being Just Plain Unfair
Az men iz raykh iz men i sheyn i klug i men ken zingen.
Loosely translated: If you’re rich, you’re handsome and you’re smart and you can sing well, too.
In other words: If you’ve got money, everyone likes you, even if you’re obnoxious.
Ltekhs tepl gefint zikh zayn dekl.
Loosely translated: Every pot finds its own lid.
In other words: Don’t worry about your latest bad date: There’s someone for everyone.
On Pompous People
Yeder eyzl hot lib tsu hern vi er aleyn hirzet.
Loosely translated: Every ass likes to hear himself bray.
In other words: Every jerk likes to hear himself talk.
And Finally, Hexes and Threats
Vern zol fun dir a blintshik, un di kats zol dikh khapn.
Loosely translated: May you turn into a blintz and be snatched by a cat.
In other words: Yum!
Kh’vel makhn fun dayne kishkes a telefon!
Loosely translated: I will turn your intestines into a telephone cord.
In other words: Thank God for iPhones?