Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Wolfe
Welcome
by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
YIDDISH GUIDE TO NORA EPHRON

Nora Ephron, “shrayber” (writer), “mekhaber” (author), producer and director, passed away on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, from Leukemia. She was the acclaimed author of the screenplays, “When Harry Met Sally” and “Silkwood.” She was 71.

She wrote, “...I don’t think of myself as a Jewish humorist or a Jewish writer in any real way, even though in some way, I think of myself as a Jew. Or as Jewish, but not a Jew; or as a Jew, but not Jewish.” You “farshteyn?” (You understand?) I’m confused!

Shown below is the Yiddish Guide to Nora Ephron:

“arumforn” (to travel)
[When asked about having to travel for chunks of time] “Well, when I finally went off to do my first movie, the kids were, I think, 11 and 10, and I thought, well that’s more than half their childhood they’ve spent basically thinking I was Barbara Bush…I did the latkes and all that stuff at the nursery school Passover. So I thought when I left for a bit of time…they’d be fine…But there’s no question it would have been better for them if I hadn’t gone.” (Source: The Forward)

“farhandlung” (negotiation), 6/29/12
Colin Callender said that his team “can think of no more fitting tribute to her [Ephron’s] extraordinary writing and remarkable body of work” than to proceed with plans to produce Ephron’s play,” The Associated Press reports. Ephron wrote a play about journalist, Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Price in 1998 for his coverage of the brutalization of Abner Louima. Tom Hanks was reported to be in negotiations to play McAlary in “Lucky Boy.” Hanks starred in “Sleepless in Seattle.”

“baytl” (purse)
“Anything is better than carrying a purse… Before you know it, your purse weighs twenty pounds and you are in grave danger of getting bursitis and needing an operation just from carrying it around.” (Source: “I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other thoughts on Being a Woman”)

“get” (divorce)
Ephron was divorced from writer, Dan Greenberg and journalist, Carl Bernstein. At the time of her death she was married to Nicholas Pilleggi.

Ephron writes about the “D” word. No, it’s not “dumkop” (dumb), or “draikop” (scatterbrain). The “D” word is divorce.
She was married three times, and writes, “The best divorce is the kind where there are no children.” She wrote about
her second divorce in the novel named, “Heartburn.”

“heym” (home)
Ephron grew up in a home where her parents were anti-religious. She was raised without any Jewish education by atheist parents.

“hor” (hair)
According to Ephron, “In the 1950s, only 7 percent of American women dyed their hair; today there are parts of Manhattan and Los Angeles where there are no gray-haired women at all.”

“humoristish” (humorous)
Ephron compares Jewish humor in Israel and New York: She says that Jewish humor—whatever it is—partly comes from being in a minority. “In my stereotype of Jews, one thing I love is how funny they are—how funny at their own expense they are. You don’t see a lot of that in Israel So I began to wonder whether being in a majority was bad for their sense of humor.”

“fuftsik” (50)
Andy Borowitz says that “Trying to rank artists is a trick business.” He considered Nora Ephron to be one of the 50th funniest American writers.

“kokhbikher” (cookbooks)
“Just before I moved to New York, two historic events had occurred. The birth control pill had been invented, and the first Julia Child cookbook was published. As a result, everyone was having sex, and when the sex was over, you cooked something.” (Source: “I Feel Bad About My Neck….”)

“kaledzh”/“universitet” (college)
Ephron went to Wellesley College, where she found the Jewish girls to be opinionated and vital and fun and funny

(“komish”). She said, “It was definitely an advantage to be Jewish at Wellesley because there were so many Jewish guys at Harvard and Harvard Law School. And a lot of them were under strict orders to date Jewish girls. The Jewish girls at Wellesley and Radcliffe had, I think, a much more active social life than anyone.” She graduated in 1962.

“kinder” (children)
“kinderlech” (affectionate term for children) Carl Bernstein, husband #2, is the father of her two sons, Jacob and Max.

“kocheffel” (busy-body)
{regarding her doorman] Ephron’s doorman provided a running commentary on everyone who lived in the building. She wrote, “Whenever I came home, my boys, my babysitter, my sister [Delia], my brother-in-law, and even Rosie [O’Donnell], who painted her apartment orange, installed walls of shelves for her extensive collection of Happy Meal Toys, feuded with her neighbors about her dogs, fought with the landlord about the fact that her washing machine was somehow irrevocably hooked up to the bathroom drain, and moved out.”

“megillah” (the whole works; the complete details)
a “gantse megillah” is “a big deal.” “When someone says, ‘Oh, you’re a woman writer’ or ‘You’re a woman director’ then you kind of say, ‘Really? Is that what you think I am? Don’t I make movies?” But Ephron is not bothered that she calls people on it. “I’m not that interested in making—as a Jew would say—a megillah out of it.”

Menopause
“Ich dark es vi a lock in kop.” (I need it like a hole in the head.)
Ephron writes, “But then, along came menopause. And with it, my mustache changed: It was no longer dormant, incipient, and threatening; it was now just plain there.”

“Nitl” (Christmas) according to Naday Ben- Ami Ephron celebrated Christmas; she loves Christmas. She always went to school on the Jewish holidays “because my mother said, ‘What are you going to do if you stay at home?’”

“nogl” (finger nail)
Ephron writes, “And then one day, like mushrooms, a trillion nail places appeared in Manhattan. Suddenly, there were more nail places than there were liquor stores, or Kinko’s, or opticians, or dry cleaners, or locksmiths, and there are way more of all of those in Manhattan than you can ever understand.”

“rozhinke” (raisin)
Ephron covered the 1967 nuptials of Pres. Johnson’s daughter, Lynda Bird. She wrote, “And, by the way, there are 1,511 raisins in the wedding cake.” (Source: New York Post, 6/28/12)

“sheyn” (pretty)
Ephron describes the word “maintenance”: “You know what maintenance is, I’m sure. Maintenance is what they mean when they say, ‘After a certain point, it’s just patch, patch, patch. Maintenance is what you have to do just so you can walk out the door knowing that if you go to the market and bump into a guy who once rejected you, you won’t have to hide behind a stack of canned food.”

“shloftsimer” (bedroom)
According to Ephron, “Your child’s room. Do not under any circumstances leave your child’s room as is. Your child’s room is not a shrine. It’s not going to the Smithsonian. Turn it into a den, a gym, a guest room, or (if you already have all three), a room for wrapping Christmas presents. Do this as soon as possible. Leaving your child’s room as is may encourage your child to return. You do not want this.” (2006 advice)

“skhires” (salary)
During Ephron’s first day working for The Post, she was sent to the Coney Island Aquariu;m to write about two hooded seals who were supposed to mate…and had refused to. Her salary: $98 a week.

“stanik” (brassiere)
“I started with a 28 AA bra. I don’t think they made them any smaller in those days, although I gather that now you can buy bras for five-year-olds that don’t have any cups whatsoever in them; trainer bras they’re called. My first brassierre came from Robinson’s Department Store in Beverly Hills. I went there alone, shaking, positive they would look me over and smile and tell me to come back next year.” [Note: She later bought a Mark Eden Bust Developer and slept on her back for four years!) “Genug iz genug!” (Enough is enough) on this topic! (Source: “A Few Words about Breasts”)

“tate”/mame” (parents)
Ephron writes, “Parenting meant playing Mozart CDs while you were pregnant, doing without the epidural and breast- feeding your child until it was old enough to unbutton your blouse.”

“Yizroel” (Israel)
Ephron visited Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

‘yung froy’ (young woman)
[about her internship in the JFK White House]:
“...I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the president did not make a pass at. Perhaps it was my permanent wave, which was a truly unfortunate mistake. Perhaps it was my wardrobe, which mostly consisted of multicolored Dynel dresses that looked like distilled Velveeta cheese. Perhaps it’s because I’m Jewish. Don’t laugh; think about it—think about that long list of women JFK slept with. Were any of them Jewish? I don’t think so.” (Source: ” Feel Bad About My Neck and other thoughts on being a woman”)

FYI: In another article, Ephron stated, “The truth is, he did have an affair with a Jewish person, a couple of times”
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Marjorie Wolfe suggests reading “Stars of David - Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish” by Abigail Pogrebin.

Marjorie Wolfe
  Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe