Yiddish Trivia Quiz


Yiddish Trivia Quiz


Search our Archives:

Opinion & Society

By Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe

(author, "Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction? Yiddish Trivia")

Grab a #2 "blayer" (pencil) and let's see how well you do on this quiz. Unfortunately, Stanley Kaplan, the test maven, does not offer a prep course, as yet.

1. Which B'way actor/actress defined Yiddish as "a combination of German and phlegm"?

A) Billy Crystal ("700 Sundays")
B) Tovah Feldshuh ("Golda's Balcony")
C) Jackie Mason ("Freshly Squeezed - Just One Jew Talking")

2. In the Kevin Costner movie, "The Upside of Anger," we meet Joan Allen (as Terry Wolfmeyer), a well-off Detroit suburbanite who has four virtually grown daughters. Believing her husband has left her for his Swedish secretary, she drinks heavily, and the family has become dysfunctional. There is no exact translation for a dysfunctional family. The closest translation would be:

A) "tsedrait"
B) "a meshpokhe mit problemen"
C) "a meshpokhe mit/af tsores"

3. May 2005 marked the 90th "yortsayt" of the most renowned of all Yiddish figures, the writer and humorist,

A) Abraham Goldfaden
B) Sholom Aleichem
C) Yitzhak Leibusz Peretz

4. Who rescued over a "milyon" Yiddish books?

A) Mal Z. Lawrence
B) Steven Spielberg
C) Aaron Lansky

5. Who wrote, "The pushcarts on Blake Avenue were not unike shtetl scenes Isaac Singer described in Frampol. They were a reminder that I was Jewish. Peddlers were up each morning scream- ing their wares half in Yiddish, half in English. They'd argue over a customer, 'I had her first,' one would say. 'Gey in dreyet'."

A) Jerry Stiller ("Married To Laughter")
B) Alan King ("Help! I'm A Prisoner In A Chinese Bakery")
C) Sam Levenson ("You Don't Have To Be in Who's Who to Know What's What")

6. Which 1975 award-winning comedy featured the two quintessentially Jewish vaudeville comics, perfectly played by Walter Matthau and George Burns, who "kvetch" and "kibitz" as they stage an ill-fated comeback?

A) Broadway Danny Rose
B) The Sunshine Boys
C) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

7. In what movie does Rosaline Russell, a "zoftig"Jewish widow, use Yiddish expressions such as "gonif," "meshuga," "tsuris," "kvelling," and "schlemiel"?

A) Madame Rose
B) Annie Hall
C) A Majority of One

8. Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer ("Growing Up Jewish in America - An Oral History") wrote, "I must have been thirteen when I saw my first Sholem Aleichem play, "Shver Zu Zein ah Yid." This term means:

A) It's Hard to be a Jew
B) Better a Jew without a beard, than a beard without a Jew
C) Ten washings will not cleanse you of Jewish talk

9. "Yenta Telebente" is:

A) Fanny Brice
B) Mrs. National Enquirer
C) Molly Goldberg (Gertrude Berg)

10. Letty Cottin Pogrebin ("Deborah, Golda, & Me") wrote that her mother had a "knippel." What did she have?

A) a button
B) a secret purse (or money tied in the corner of a handkerchief)
C) a traditional Jewish woman's wig

11. David Colman ("Crayola Colors, But Kept Inside the Lines") wrote that men are wearing solidly colored pants, sweaters and blazers in tangerine, lemon, virdian, magenta and royal blue. According to this statement

A) "Klaider machem dem mentshem"
B) One should be "oysgeputst"
C) All that's lacking is a "mazldiker kravat" (a lucky tie)

12. If we described a renovated Catskill hotel as "mit ale pistshefkes," we say that it offers

A) man "alte moyds" (old maids)
B) all of the extras including wireless internet access, SPA, and full health club
C) "farvaylung" (entertainment) and a "halbe nahkht" (midnight) buffet

13. David M. Bader said, "Yiddish has no word for 'golf' but it has 273 different ways to complain about

A) "di mekheteneste" (your child's spouse's parents)
B) lower back pain
C) "dos gesheft" (the business)
D) "di rebetsn" (the rabbi's wife)

14. What department store advertised (in 1994), "What if you love to shop, but hate to schlep?" Our Beatrice Dale consolidated shopping service is for you...You won't carry a thing, and you only pay once."

A) Dillard's
B) Loehmann's
C) Bloomingdale's

15. When Mandy Patinkin performed "Mamaloshen," what songs did he sing?

A) "Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen"
B) "Motl Der Opreyter"
C) "Unter Dayne Vayse Shterm"
D) All of the above

16. Melvin is speeding along Northern State Parkway on Long Island, New York, and got a speeding ticket. His wife says "Deigher Nisht!" Just plead insanity. After all, it's not a lie because you had to be crazy to go 120 mph." "Deigher Nisht!" means

A) Everything will smooth itself out!
B) Don't worry!
C) You'll be the death of me!
D) a real mess!

17. In a Money Management For Seniors lecture in S. Florida, Harry C. Sherer, said,

A) "The leading cause of death in S. Florida is exhaustion, caused by house guests from the North."
B) "Shpor, shpor, kumt der shvarts yor un nemt alts gor." (You save and save, and then a lean year comes and takes away every- thing.)
C) "Der doktor hot a refue far alts, ober nit far dales." (The doctor has a remedy for every- thing, but not for poverty.)

18. Alan Alda landed a part in an English- language production of "Yoshe Kalb" by by I. J. Singer. The director was Maurice Schwartz, who also played the role of a Hasidic rabbi. When his character died early in the 2nd act, he stayed on stage covered by a sheet. If you looked closely, you could see the sheet over his face rising and falling. "Hekher!" "Hekher!" he was shouting. What does the word mean?

A) Faster! Faster!
B) Louder! Louder!
C) That's enough! That's enough!

19. Drink "tai mit limeneh" (tea with lemon) and nourish life. With the firsst sip... joy. With the second...satisfaction. With the third,...peace. With the fourth...

A) a few pieces of rugelach
B) a prune danish
C) a "shtik" of Halvah
D) All of the above

20. Sheldon Landwehr writes restaurant reviews for the New York Post. He uses this rating system:

0 stars ______________
1 star Unremarkable, but acceptable
2 stars Good
3 stars Very good
4 stars Outstanding

A) "farkackt"
B) "Pooh"
C) "groylik"

21. One computer-related maxim that translates beautifully into Yiddish is the slogan, "Drek arayn, drek aroys." This means,

A) "Ver vaist?"
B) garbage in, garbage out
C) Ask me another "frageh."

22. According to Leo Lieberman, "A shmateh is

A) a rag."
B) what your husband's second wife wears."
C) off-the-rack merchandise."

23. Which mayor proclaimed Dec. 5, 1976, Yiddish Theater Day in NYC?

A) Abe Beame
B) Fiorello LaGuardia
C) Edward Koch

24. According to Michael Wex ("Born to Kvetch"), "Real corporal punishment begins with the

A) frask (the melamed's answer to a Karate chop)
B) patsh (Ex. "Patshin mit di hent")
C) zets (Ex. the stroke or blow)
D) flem (in the face, across the cheeks)

* * * * *

1. A
2. B and C
3. B
4. C
5. A
6. B
7. C
8. A
9. B
10. B
11. A (clothes make the man)
12. B
13. B
14. C
15. B
16. B
17. A
18. B
19. D
20. A
21. B "frageh" means question
22. B
23. A
24. B

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is a retired business educator and free-lance writer. She resides in Syosset, New York. Check out her website: MarjorieGottliebWolfe.com.


from the December 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (www.something.com)