by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
FROM “NYC SCHLEP” TO “KINDERSCHLEP”: THE MANY MEANINGS OF “SCHLEP”
I received an invitation to participate in NYC Schlep, a Jewish 5K Run/Walk Breast & Ovarian Cancer on July 15, 2012. Yes, by my participating in this walk I can help eradicate a deadly disease that touches all families.
“Shlep” (an alternate spelling) rhymes with “hep” and has several meanings. We might call a moving man a “shleper.” Or, when dealing with a social misfit, we might say, “I met this shlepper on JDate!” Leo Rosten (“The New Joys of Yiddish”) tells the following story:
“And where,” asked the striped-trousered salesman, “shall we deliver these, madam?”
“Don’t bother. I’ll carry them.”
“But madam, we’ll be happy to deliver this order—-”
“I know, but I don’t mind. I’m from the Bronx.”
“I understand, madam,” said the clerk, “but still—why shlep?”
In 2005, Departures Magazine (May/June)
And there’s the word “kinderschlep”—a noun meaning to transport other kids in your car besides yours.
Way back in 2000, Rod Dreher of The New York Post used the word “schlep”:
“If you lived in Cobble Hill and wanted to taste the burned-to-a-crisp goodness of Starbucks coffee, you used to have to SCHLEP to Brooklyn Heights.
Starbucks is about to hoist its oh-so-familiar standard on the south side of Atlantic Avenue. For this neighborhood, this is the equivalent of Caesar crossing the Rubicon.”
And in 2009 New York Magazine, Sept. 21, carried an article titled “Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife,” TV series):
And it [“The Good Wife”] allows her to work in New York, where she has resettled with lawyer-husband Keith Lieberthal and their 19-month-old-son, Kieran. “I don’t have to SCHLEP all over the world,” she said.
And, finally, Jack Eagle wrote (“It Happened in Brooklyn” by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer): “For those who preferred going out to shop, Brooklyn had its own version of Orchard Street, Thirteenth Avenue, in Borough Park. It used to be filled with pushcarts and peddlers. Guys sold sweet potatoes and hasha arbus—hot chick-peas from little carts. My poor aunt had a little stand and stood out in the freezing cold. There was a pickle man on the corner of Fortieth Street. He’d sell sour and half-sour pickles, sour tomatoes, fresh horseradish. You’d ask for a pickle, and he’d dig his hand right down to the bottom of the barrel and pull one out. And if you didn’t like that pickle, he’d dig his hand down again and SCHLEPP out another one.”