Turkey, dressing and did someone say 'latkes'?

The overlap of the 2013 Thanksgiving observance with the first day of Hanukkah is attracting ample media attention, and why not? The next such occurrence is at least 75,000 years away. Even with current medical advances, there’s no need to fret about what to gift the hostess just yet.

Were he still alive, Cleveland’s comedic musician/entertainer Mickey Katz (Meyer Myron Katz) might have been thrilled to get his arms around “Thanksgivukkah” as the combination holiday is called. Area residents may be more familiar with his son, actor Joel Grey (Joel David Katz) and granddaughter, actress Jennifer Grey.

Jewish humor has been a force in the American entertainment industry since Vaudeville. Try a century-plus of hilarity on for size. Laughter lifts spirits, burns calories and can aid digestion, so what better complement to the Thanksgiving feast than taking a pass on the umpteenth football game and instead watching something with Mel Brooks (Melvin Kaminsky) or perhaps Rodney Dangerfield (Jacob Rodney Cohen). A Joan Rivers (Joan Sandra Molinsky) stand-up comedy skit could suffice: the more shticks, the merrier!

Shtick comes from the Yiddish shtik, derived from the German stück (piece). Yiddish borrows heavily from German. It bears mentioning that many Americanized versions of Yiddish words have become part of our lexicon.   

Ever faced by a salesman who drones on and on until the spiel became unbearable? The reference to this seemingly never-ending pitch originates from the Yiddish shpil. Shpil comes from the German spiel, for “play.”

Glitch made a giant leap from Yiddish to tech talk for minor malfunction. System glitches were blamed for impeding a smooth rollout of the national Affordable Health Care plan, creating convenient cover for any lack of careful planning, meticulous network design, sufficient beta and traffic testing. The Yiddish meaning of glitsh is to “skip, skate or slide,” (a dance that’s all the rage on Capitol Hill?).

When ordinary individuals share social space with prominent folk – including politicians – many tend to schmooze (from schmuesn, to converse.) Schmooze has been part of American vernacular for more than a century. If you guessed Yiddish origins, you’ve been paying close attention!

The next time you grab a bagel, (beygl), know that it was a rare West Shore find before the latter part of the 20th century. Today’s enduring breakfast edible can also support a sandwich and is made into chips for dipping. Some versions have grown corners, becoming squares! The simple dough ring first made in Krakow, Poland, has really evolved over 400 years!

As for this year’s Thanksgivukkah hostess gift, take a clue from the weisenheimers. Bring loads of good cheer and Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins), then enjoy latkes (potato pancakes), traditional Hanukkah fare!

Incidentally, whoever coined "Thanksgivukkah" filled a need we didn’t know we had. Thanksgivukkah merits an eye roll, head slap and, better yet, something new from Adam Sandler.

What a way to kick off the 2013 holiday season! Peace, health and prosperity in the coming year (or sooner, if it could be arranged)!

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Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 10:03 AM, 11.26.2013