Monday, July 14, 2008

On Learning Lingo

Something most people in the Frum world know is that there is a lingo unique to religious Jews that can be difficult for an outsider to navigate. Just the word Frum is unfamiliar. There are so many of these words, that in my Jewfolio, I have a words section that lists all the unfamiliar words I have come across and their definitions. I don't need the dictionary much, but making it helped me learn the words. When Rabbi F first saw it, he was particularly amused by the fact I had defined "chullent."

The other day, my friends Baker and Petunia (WHO ARE ENGAGED!!!) were having their Vort and I was discussing it at a Shabbos dinner. I accidentally called it at Shalom Zucher and boy was my face red! Some people teased me in good natured fun, and I've recently decided to just misplace all sorts of catch-phrases, bli neder. So far, it's been fun and it relieves me of having to remember to say the right things at the right times, chas vashalom.

In case you don't know, here is an index of some potentially unknown words used in this post:

Frum: At the basic level, I think it means observant. Apparently, it is Yiddish and originally meant "pious." Some people are more "frum" (aka "frummer") than others, which usually means that they are more strict (sometimes, in a way that seems nutty) with what they observe. For example, a family I know that is well-respected in the community, and a personal favorite of mine, has four daughters, whom I hold in the highest regard, who do not consider themselves "frum." I am not sure why, but when I asked, I got a bit of a look and one of them told me that they weren't as frum as many and used the example of being allowed to watch some videos. At first, I thought it might be a take on the word "frumpy," since many frum women can seem to be dressed only in black unfitting dresses. However, that first impression is incorrect as I have since met many well dressed and stylish women. You have to be careful with compliments, though, since telling one Rebitzen that she looked "hot," meant that that outfit was relegated to the gemach.
Chullent aka Cholent: Basically, stew. In fact, I think that may be the only thing that most Jews would agree on with Chullent. It tends to have beans (pinto, chick peas, white beans) that can be identifiable or cooked and mushed into a state of totally unrecognizable. Also, it has potatoes and barley. Other than that, it's very different. Some leave the kishke in (Kishke is a tube stuffed with carrots, celery, other stuff and spices), but some take it out and serve it on a plate. Many have meat, but that can be ground beef, chunks of beef, stew meat, hot dogs, etc. Apparently, Sephardic (Jews of Morrocan descent) chullent has eggs in it. The word supposedly comes from the French chault, meaning hot, and lent, meaning slow, which describes the cooking process of preparing it before Shabbos and leaving it to sit through Friday night and until Shabbos lunch. It can be watery, or thick enough to "fill potholes" as one husband lovingly said.
Shalosh Seudos: Sounds like "shaloushudus" when people say it. It's the third meal of Shabbos and usually the one that is the smallest. It tends to be parve (neither meat nor dairy)
and in my community, women and men do not usually eat it together. I find that this results in more chit chat and a lighter, less formal feel. I think the reason men are not usually there is so that the women can sing, only I find that women tend to be really shy and don't sing out very much. It makes me want to learn more zmiros (Shabbos songs) so I can change things. When I go to DE's, we read Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore, discuss (usually, this involves a lot of debate), and eat delicious delicious food.
Baruch Hashem: Means "thank God." It is often given as an answer for the question "How are you?" I think it's the frum world's way of saying "fine." People also intersperse it throughout conversation when expressing anything positive. A typical conversation may go, "Hi. How are you?" "Baruch Hashem, you?" "Baruch Hashem, well!" "What did you do today?" "Well, I went o the store and flour was on sale, Baruch Hashem! I mean, it's gotten so expensive along with gas. But, Baruch Hashem, I'm getting a raise and tuition prices have stayed the same, Baruch Hashem."
Shalom Zucker: A party celebrating the birth of a baby boy on the first Shabbos after the birth of a baby boy. Apparently, it's traditionally just for men, although I've always been told I should feel free to go. I think it's a meet and great where guys congratulate the new father while the mother sleeps. I'm not sure why it's done only for boys, but my guess is because a newborn girl has a naming ceremony, and I'm not sure what that's called.
Chilul Hashem: Desecration of God's name. People use this whenever someone may be doing something blatantly wrong in public.
Bli Neder: Means without making a commitment. Basically, it indicates that someone has an intent but isn't promising to do it. Sometimes, people will say, "I promise to be there, bli neder." This is because one shouldn't make a commitment they can't keep, so it kind of downgrades something from a promise to an, "I'll try." I don't know why people don't just say, "I'll try."
Gemach: A place where things are donated, loaned out, returned and loaned out again. I see it like an old school Napster, but for things.
Vort: Means "speech." A party for an engaged couple where someone gives a speech and everyone eats, or stares at, strategically placed finger foods.
Chas Veshalom: Means "heaven forbid." Say this whenever you say something that might happen that would be bad, even if you're using the most outlandish idea ever. For example, "If aliens took over to earth and turned all people into Brussels sprouts, chas vashalom, cars wouldn't be needed."


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Guevos Ḥaminados ("Cholentafied Eggs" in Ladino) are placed in the chulent pot *in their shells*, and slowly hard-boil as the cholent cooks. They're good. I'm not Sefardic, but i always put in haminados whenever i make chulent.

Yonah Ovadiah said...

Of course you may want to look into "Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish" by Chaim M. Weiser.

I've briefly looked at it, but from what I remember, the yeshivish version of the Gettysburg Address is worth the price of admission alone.

Michael Koplow said...

And don't forget "very nice." As in, "Why are you sponsoring kiddush this week?" "It's my father's yortzait." "Very nice."

Or "I got condo'd out, so I moved to an apartment down the block, same hood, same size, same stuff." "Very nice."

I'm not making either of these up.

I discovered your blog when you commented on the blatant racism of that letter writer quoted by Wolf (about how it's the natural order of things for a Mexican to be paid less than a nice Jewish girl). I was going to say that if you hadn't beaten me to it. Hear hear, kudos, and yasher koach.