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Yiddish Curses for the New Millennium

Yiddish Curses for the New Millennium

He should grow like an onion with his head in the ground.


We Jews have historically used our pisks instead of fists in dealing with others. If the old saw “words can kill” is accurate, we’ve refined the mission to: “maybe torture until your opponent, until his brain is farmisht and his tongue is hanging trying to best us.”

In previous articles I’ve discussed the art of the Yiddish curse as prophecy (“May you …). As a child I heard my parents say: “Er zol vaksen vi a tsibeleh, mit dem kop in drerd.” I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was, when uttered, grown ups would gishrei (scream) or faint. Finally, when I was of legal age, my parents told me solemnly, “It means ... ‘He should grow like an onion with his head in the ground.’”

The Yiddish curse has a baroque splendour in its intricate ability to prophesize.

Wha …?! Now that’s raw Yiddish power! While Anglo-Saxon curses often deal with body parts, Catholic curses go for blasphemy, and the Middle and Far East do their version of “Yo Mama,” insulting ancestors, the Yiddish curse has a baroque splendour in its intricate ability to prophesize. The most spectacular lull the “victim” with a positive opening, which then turns into a juicy, literate, malediction that no mere obscene word could possibly convey. According to the Proverb: “A curse is not a telegram: it doesn’t arrive so fast.” Like Jewish caviar, the Jewish curse must be savored.

But alas, as with far too much of our glorious heritage, JYAs (Jewish Young Adults) have lost the art. And why not? How many young Jews know from Czars, bedbugs, Mazurkas, Ukrainian regiments, tapeworms, trolley cars, delirium, outhouses, and “navel” onions?? So for you, my dear readers, I’m presenting the best Jewish Curses: old and new. I’ve written the New Jewish Curses that better “resonate” in the New Millenium. May you use them in good health, mein kind, and with noble purpose!

Favorite Old Yiddish Curses

May you be a person of leisure, take a daily nap – and may the lice in your shirt marry the bedbugs in your mattress and may their offspring set up residence in your underwear.

May you enjoy a good time with plenty of good Vodka – and may your blood turn to whiskey, so that 100 bedbugs get drunk on it and dance the mazurka in your belly button.

May you get passage out of the old village safely, and when you settle, may you fall into the outhouse just as a regiment of Ukrainians is finishing a prune stew and twelve barrels of beer.

May you be so enamored of good food that you turn into a blintz, and may your enemy turn into a cat, and may he eat you up and choke on you, so we can be rid of you both.

May you have a hundred houses, and in every house a hundred rooms and in every room 20 beds, and may you come down with a delirious fever that drives you from bed to bed.

May you turn into a centipede with ingrown toenails, may onions grow in your navel and may you lie in the earth and bake bagels.

May your tapeworm develop constipation while trolley cars run through your intestine as thieves camp out in your belly and steal your guts one by one.

May you eat chopped liver with onion, pickled herring, chicken soup with matzo balls,

carp with horse radish, boiled beef with tsimmis, potato pancakes with applesauce -- and may you choke on every bite. ALT or may your wife eat matzoh in bed and may you roll in the crumbs.

May your two sons grow up happy and strong. And may they become a doctor and a lawyer. And may each marry a wonderful women and have wealth. And may they each have many children and may they all name someone after you already!

NEW Yiddish Curses For JYAS in the New Millennium

May your mother get you a fun new app that allows her to reach you more easily, and may you learn it also has a tracking device and “just knows” what you're up to, then repeats in her voice: “You're breaking my heart!”

May the men in your family be blessed with luxurious hair that remains thick and curly well into their eighties, and may you be the only one to inherent great-zayde Yossel’s recessive gene for male pattern baldness which kicks in the day after your Bar Mitzvah!

May you be approaching your 16th Birthday, and may you have been promised, your own car, and may you have your heart set on that red 2012 MazdaSpeed Protege that revs to 170 mph on Craig’s List, and may your parents proudly hand you the keys to a 2002 beige Chrysler station wagon!

May you be texting on a Jewish social networking site and get the following message from Shaloma2: “DYHM” thinking it means “Do You 'Heart' Me” – and may you then learn Shaloma2 is your mother and “DYHM” stands for “Do Your Homework, Mamala!

May you be a hot new Glatt Kosher chef, and may The Food Network challenge you to a televised Throwdown showdown, and may Irishman Bobby Flay beat you, in front of millions, with his gribenes!

May it be Christmas Day, and while your gentile friends are eating ham, surrounded by red and green lights and holly boughs, sitting around a gezunta tree, opening presents, may the only Glatt Kosher Chinese restaurant within 50 miles be “closed for renovations!”

May you write a series of brilliant proposals on your computer which will make you a young millionaire, and may your computer crash, but fortunately may you have backed-up with a fancy system your brother, the computer geek, installed -- and may you learn his brilliant system stopped functioning in 2010, as he was eager to get to his chess match!

May you be a hard-working Jewish writer, and may you be studious, conscientious, and passionate in your work, and may you have wonderful readers who appreciate your humor, your research, and your dedication – and may every ethnic humor book publisher say, “too Jewish!”

October 24, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 12

(11) Esther, November 7, 2011 4:55 PM

I may be a modern-day Jewish Young Adult, but my Bobbe loved teaching me all the Yiddish curses from when she was younger....and whenever I use one at school, all the Jewish teenagers start laughing/gasping in shock/fainting/or screaming. And no one else seems to know why, except for the 12 Jewish people at my school (since I go to a public school where the majority of the student population [99.99%] is Gentiles). So it's pretty funny when my Pre-Calculus teacher (who is Jewish) gasps when I utter a Yiddish curse about the amount of homework I've been assigned and I won't be able to finish it that night as I would have a USY Board Meeting when I get home. :D

(10) Helen Shloiomovitz, October 31, 2011 8:31 AM

Delayed shock

love the delayed shock technique. A rather unpleasant woman asked me how old I thought she was. I replied "I can't give you a figure but I reckon you're considerably younger........................than you look"

(9) dov29, October 28, 2011 6:50 PM


There's a response fo your first curse. You should grow like a potato "in gonsen in dreard" (entirely in the ground).

(8) Shari, October 28, 2011 4:34 AM

If you can't beat 'em.....

Very cute. I have one for you, too. May your homework come easily, may you learn the secret of duck gribenes, and beat the pants off Bobby Flay, may you find out that a new restaurant, with excellent Shwarma opened up across the street, may your publisher decide that "too Jewish" is perfect, may you have saved all your data, so even with the crash you've still got plenty of back-up, and may you get on the scale after Yom Tov, and find out that you need to buy a new wardrobe, because you gained weight and the one you have, doesn't quite fit anymore. LOL, Shari

MARNIE, THE AUTHOR, October 30, 2011 12:09 AM



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