[Mendele] (no subject)

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Tue Sep 15 12:39:49 EDT 2009

  Mendele: Yiddish literature and language
Contents of Vol. 19.011
September 11, 2009

1) The secular and the worldly in Yiddish literature and Yiddish life 
(Howard Berger)
2) The secular and the worldly in Yiddish literature and Yiddish life 
(Larry Rosenwald)
3) bankes (Dina Lvias)
4) bankes (Elvira Groezinger)
5) bankes (Herb Lewis)
6) Isaac Babel in Yiddish (Gerry Kane)
7) Lilke Majzner (Hershl Hartman)
8) gogl (Martin Jacobs)
9) (bale-)boss (Jacob van der Wijk)

Date:   August 24, 2009
Subject: The secular and the worldly in Yiddish literature and Yiddish 

This is in reply to Z. D. Smith's very interesting query of Aug. 23 as to 
the corpus of
literature of non-observant, free-thinking, secular Yiddish speakers and 
readers. It seems
to me that such a corpus may, and I repeat may, be accessed by referring 
to book reviews
in the plethora of communist, or otherwise left-leaning, free-thinking 
publications that appeared in the U. S. in the first four decades of the 
20th century. If
such a Yiddish-language corpus existed, that would be the venue where it 
would be
recorded and reviewed. Would it not? I, too, am curious about a body of 
work that
reflects a truly secular lifestyle, and would greatly appreciate and 
welcome Z.D. Smith's
research into this field.

Howard Berger

Date: August 24, 2009
Subject:  The secular and the worldly in Yiddish literature and Yiddish 

Re Z. D. Smith's totally fascinating reflections on the secular and the 
worldly, and
addressing only a small part of those reflections, I'd note how 
disorienting it was for me
to read the beginning chapters (and some other chapters as well) of Sholem 
Ash's "East
River." The first chapter concerns, if not kortnshpiln and bronfn, then at 
least the wholly
un-rabbinic, un-yeshivebokherdik topic of pigeon flying . Ash's novel in 
general seems to
me among other things an attempt to figure out how to use Yiddish to 
depict secular and
non-Jewish aspects of the American world - not just the pigeon-flying but 
also Franklin
Roosevelt and a Catholic confession booth.

Larry Rosenwald

Date: August 25, 2009
Subject: bankes

"Banki," in Russian, is the plural of "banka" meaning "jar/tin can/pot." 
It also applies to
"cups" in the medical/health context of "applying cupping-glasses" to a 
person suffering
from, e.g., bronchitis. The Yiddish saying "S'hilft vi a toytn bankes" is 
a skeptical
assessment of this old wives' remedy!!
It is the equivalent, more or less, of "spitting in the air."
(The French say "appliquer un cautre sur une jambe de bois," i.e. "a 
poultice on a wooden
There is no other possible etymological origin for the Yiddish "bankes" in 
my opinion !!

Dina Lvias

[Moderator's note: The Mendele archives are a wonderful and underutilized 
"Bankes" has received much attention from Mendele readers in the past. For 
information, see Mendele volumes 3, 6, and 15 in the Mendele Archives at

Date: August 25, 2009
Subject: bankes

Bankes (or Polish banki, German Schroepfkoepfe) are cupping glasses used 
in popular
medicine against fever. They are heated and then adhered to the patient's 

Best wishes,
Elvira Groezinger

Date: August 30, 2009
Subject: bankes

This was used by my Bubba in the saying, "Es helft vi a toytn,  bankes." 
That is, the
remedy helped as little as cupping would for someone already dead. I 
thought of
Grandma's wisdom often in fifty years of medical practice.

Herb Lewis

Date: August 25, 2009
Subject:  Isaac Babel in Yiddish

Were any of Isaac Babel's stories translated into Yiddish in the Soviet 
Union or in the

If they were, were they in the form of occasional stories in Yiddish 
literary magazines or
were they collections published in book form? If there were Yiddish 
translations, does
any Mendele leyener know whether they are available?

Gerry Kane

Date: August 15, 2009
Subject: Lilke Majzner

As the shloyshim (marking the 30th day after her death) approaches, the 
website of the
Museum of Family History has posted a video of Lilke Majzner's inimitable 
oratory upon
receiving the highest award from the International Association of Yiddish 
Clubs in 2008.
The English translation of her thoughtful and fiery remarks appears below
the video screen.

Lilke was long-time president of the L.A. Yiddish Culture Club, a member 
of the Arbeter
Ring/Workmen's Circle both in Europe and here and a teacher in its shuln, 
a survivor of
the Bundist (General Jewish Workers' Alliance of Russia, Lithuania and 
underground in Lodz and several concentration and death camps, including 
She was the initiator and moving force behind the coalition of L.A. 
Secular Jewish
organizations which, for the past decade, has sponsored annual 
commemorations of the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and of the executed Soviet Yiddish writers.

She wrote beautifully in Yiddish for several publications and it was
my honor to translate many of her works.

Hershl Hartman

Date: August 24, 2009
Subject: Gogl

Dr. Paul Glasser, like Mr. Kennedy and Dr. Taube, also informed me that 
the word
should be "nogl" but I am afraid I had difficulty believing this since I 
did not see what
the length of one's fingernails had to do with looking either Jewish or 
non-Jewish; we
certainly don't consider it as such today.  But I stand corrected: autres 
temps, autres

Thank you, Hershl.

Martin Jacobs

Date:  September 7, 2009
Subject: (bale-)boss

I would like to refer those who were speculating about the oves of "boss" 
to a new
publication by prominent Dutch etymologist Nicoline van der Sijs entitled 
cookies en dollars: de invloed van het Nederlands op Noord-Amerikaanse 
(Amsterdam University Press, ISBN 978 90 8964 10 4).

Jacob van der Wijk
End of Mendele Vol. 19.011

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