Letter to the editor: Nov. 1, 2017

Yiddish phrase evokes fond memories 

Your Yiddish phrase in the Oct. 18 edition of the Jewish Light (Yiddish Word of the Week, Jewish Lite page), “Hak mir nisht keyn tshaynik” that was interpreted as “stop annoying me, don’t bother me,” does not fit the description that my “phrum” grandmother taught me. 

She stated to me that the literal translation was, “do not beat on a tea kettle.”

(She) taught (me) that when a mother or grandmother in her “schtettel” had news such as a bris, bar mitzvah, engagement, wedding, or birth, she would go into her yard and beat on a tea kettle to let the other women know that there was an announcement coming. It was their way of getting a crowd to deliver the news. 


The only way that it transformed into a negative phrase was because some of the women would use the tea kettle to gather a crowd for the sake of getting attention.

Just so you know, I am 94 years old and I was in touch with my grandmother about these phrases when I was 9 years old. I am not a scholar of Yiddish but many of my friends were very accomplished in the language. I do enjoy your Yiddish Word of the Week in the Light, as it brings back fond memories of my early life.

Bernard (Benjamin) Eder, Olivette