Oy, Such a Shmendrick!

The amateur etymologist in me enjoyed this piece on the genesis of the Yiddish term shmendrick in the April issue of Moment:

The shmendrick is the nincompoop of Yiddish lore, a pipsqueak. A synonym for a hopelessly neurotic bumbler, this brand of shmendrick has become an archetype of American entertainment—think Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy, or Woody Allen in… well, most anything before 1998.

But the roots of this character lie in another form of entertainment: Yiddish theater. More specifically, the word can be traced back to the work of Abraham Goldfaden, a 19th-century poet and songwriter with a preternatural talent for verse.

Read on


Discover More

CRISPR, the Eclipse and Rabbi Soloveitchik

The fact that we can even think about changing genes to let blind people see is an incredible achievement in and of itself

When The History of Anti-Semitism and Racism Come Together

How the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and mother of an African American navigates the history of hate.

Why I Wear My Kippah More Now

On outwardly religious apparel in the post-Charlottesville world.