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Pastrami, Verklempt, and Tshoot-spa: Non-Jews’ Use of Jewish Language in the United States with Sara Bunim Benor

Hosted By: Orange County Community Scholar Program (CSP)

Jews in the United States use many Hebrew and Yiddish words in their English conversation. To what extent do non-Jews pick up these linguistic markers? This multimedia talk explains how words like klutz, shpiel, and kibbitz have become part of the broader American lexicon, sometimes popularized by comedians. Politicians use Hebrew and Yiddish words in diverse ways, from Bill Clinton’s “Shalom, chaver” to Michele Bachmann’s mispronunciation of chutzpah. A much more sinister use of Jewish language is white nationalists mocking Jews with words like Goyim and Shoah. Several video clips are shown, from James Cagney as a Yiddish-speaking Irish taxi driver to Barack Obama “getting all verklempt” while honoring Barbra Streisand.

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Teacher

Rabbi Debra Stein

Rabbi Debra Stein, Cantor has served the Jewish Center of the Hamptons for over 30 years. Upon graduating from the School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College, she became a Cantor/Educator for Jewish Center of the Hamptons. As part of community outreach, Rabbi Stein meets with the Clericus of East Hampton, the organization of local clergy, and participates in ecumenical services in the community. She sings holiday songs at local public school, assembles and conducts model Seders, works with the East End Hospice, has spoken at the local college on the Jewish view of infertility and adoption, and has served on sub-committees at the hospital for quality AIDS care.
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