Yeshivishe reid.

Composer Abie Rotenberg enjoys the potpourri that is Yeshivish Yiddish, and so will you. The start:

To originate a language, a new way to talk and speak,
is a most imposing challenge, a monumental feat.
It takes a special talent, ’tis not for the faint of heart,
and most are doomed to failure before they even start.

But in the hallowed halls of yeshivos far and wide,
our young men have discovered a new way to verbalize.
With Yiddish, English, Hebrew, it’s a mixture of all three,
and a dash of Aramaic- A linguistic potpourri!

Yeshivishe reid, Yeshivishe shprach!
Takeh, Epis, Gradeh, ah gevaldige zach!
It’s called Yeshivishe reid, Yeshivishe shprach,
it’s the talk of the town, Mamesh tug un nacht!

It gets increasingly Hebrew/Yiddish-laden, with lines like:

I said “Then it’s an Onus if to Seder I’ll be late”,
“No”, he said, “I’m Makpid- Ein Somchin Al Hanes!”

(Calling rozele…)


  1. He pronounces “late” as /leis/??

    P.S. what’s the difference between reid and shprach?

  2. A gute kashe!

  3. David Marjanović says

    Is it like “speech” and “language”?

  4. Yup. i sometimes wonder if my mother tongue is really English or Yeshivish (“Yinglish” as some people call it).
    The local hatters have probably already heard that’s actually a dictionary devoted to the study of this “dialect” (us Yeshiva guy don’t have an army yet, so Max Weinreich would avoid calling it a langauge): and there’s an online dictionary in the works as well –
    A Gut Moyed!

    (Too bad you posted this today when observant Jews in the Diaspora are in middle of the holiday. They won’t be able to comment until Monday night.)

  5. Woops, my bad! But their comments will be welcome whenever they show up.

  6. That’s using “observant” to mean “Orthodox.”

  7. In the NYC area, where due to area demographics both gentiles and not-so-Orthodox Jews commonly need to keep track of when certain of their work colleagues will not be at work and (horrors!) will not even be checking their emails, “observant” is extremely common shorthand for, e.g., “the sort of people who don’t check their emails on the first two days of Sukkot.” Non-Orthodox Jews who are “observant” according to their own religious lights regarding what “observance” is due and proper probably get left out for the functional reason that their observances are less likely to require accommodation/logistical-preplanning on the part of others. In NYC’s time zone, at least, those people are coming back online this weekend at sunset on Sunday, not Monday. Which I happen to know for the purely secular reason that I need to keep track of when certain of my work colleagues will be offline/unreachable.

  8. By the way, you can listen to this Abie Rotenberg song on Spotify:

  9. Brett- the American Conservative movement requires reasonably strict Halachic observance. As you can see by the quote below, many members of Conservative synagogues honor these requirements in the breach – but many others do follow the rules, although perhaps not in the obsessive manner of most Orthodox Jews. So it’s not correct in this context to equate observant with Orthodox.

    “The first thing that you must understand about the Conservative approach to Jewish law is that Conservative Judaism requires observance of the laws of classical Judaism, including the dietary laws (kashrut), the Sabbath and Festivals, daily and Sabbath worship, and the moral norms of the Torah, Prophets, and Sages. It is not the case that you are ‘Orthodox’ if you observe the dietary laws or Shabbat, as many American Jews think: Conservative Judaism requires that too!”

  10. For that matter, I know a non-zero number of Reform Jews who also are stricter than is the norm for Reform Jews, which in at least one case certainly means no internet or computer for holidays with traditional restrictions.

    I would certainly not suggest that a Jewish person who considers themself observant isn’t just because another person has different rules, especially as I’m not myself Jewish and therefore nobody cares about my opinion, but that doesn’t mean that the only people who follow this particular rule are Orthodox.

    In conclusion: religion is complicated, people are complicated, and probably a better term would be something like “strictly observant” or “traditionally observant” or “Jews who do not use computers during the holiday” or whatever, which is both inclusive of people who consider themselves observant even if they don’t follow that particular rule *and also* does not assume that only one group of Jews follows that particular rule.

  11. David Eddyshaw says

    Seems like a somewhat captious criticism to me: surely, in context, the meaning intended was exactly “Jews who do not use computers during the holiday,” (Though I’m sure RCK can speak for himself.)

    (Me, I’m an observant Calvinist: I’m also determinedly not Sabbatarian, for reasons I can bang on about at length given the slightest encouragement. As C Baker rightly says, religion is complicated.)

  12. J.W. Brewer says

    RCK (who was posting on the internet during the holiday …) was by his phrasing presupposing a multi-day period of being offline, because of Which is in theory a point on which the Conservative rabbis align with the Orthodox whereas the Reform regard the diasporic doubling of the holiday as outmoded due to changed conditions. This year the doubled version of the holiday falls on a weekend, making it of much less interest to completely goyische and/or non-observant New Yorkers who keep track of the variable (in Gregorian-calendar terms) annual timing of the first two days of Sukkot because, as we say in the NYC regional dialect, “alternate side-of-street parking rules are suspended.”

    Most years, my own numerically small religious community benefits the rest of the NYC population (or at least the ones who keep a car parked on the streets) in the same fashion, because the alternate-side rules are suspended on the days we observe Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as well as on the (typically separate and earlier, more years than not) days more of our neighbors observe those occasions as their authorities have calculated them per the dangerously new-fangled Gregorian calendar. This of course is the result of a somewhat hilarious and/or tragicomic false analogy. The original idea was to suspend the “if you don’t move your car out of this parking spot for these specific hours on this specific day it will be ticketed and perhaps towed” rules on days when “observant” Jews refrain from driving cars even for short distances such as from one parking spot to another one around the block. Which makes obvious sense to accommodate in a community with any significant number of such people whose scruples would prevent them from compliance on certain dates which are knowable well in advance. But then to avoid the appearance of sectarian favoritism, the same benefit was extended to numerous holy days of other religions who have no so such taboo against moving parked cars on a holy day.

  13. I’m also determinedly not Sabbatarian

    I’m perplexed by Seventh Day Adventists’ approach within a Sunday-observing culture. (There’s a church on my usual Saturday-morning route to the local Farmer’s Market/shopping complex. The service is still in progress on my way back several hours later.)

    How does a 7DA get their shopping done/bills paid/hair cut/etc where such services close down Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday? (And presumably the 7DA are working a usual Mon-Fri when the shops would be open.)

  14. (Just to clarify, RCK lives in Israel, so he only keeps one day of the holiday and posted his comment on Saturday night after the holiday ended.)

  15. I guess Gödel was a gadol in logic.

  16. David Eddyshaw says


    Note the characteristic Central Chadic palatalising prosody (these AA languages are all very similar.)

  17. J.W. Brewer says

    My apologies to RCK for momentarily forgetting that the entire world (solar system, rather) does not operate on N.Y. time.

  18. Note the characteristic Central Chadic palatalising prosody

    The name is presumably to be reconstructed as *Kʷrt Gʷadal-y.

  19. David Eddyshaw says

    It is notable that the rounding prosody induced by /gʷ/ has protected the /d/ from the expected palatalisation. This has interesting consequences for rule ordering.

  20. David Marjanović says

    Nonono, it’s depalatalization by the following /l/! The e is a lie. 🙂

  21. Trond Engen says

    I’m confused. What has any of this to do with Goidelic?

    Edit: Except palatalization obviously. My bad.

  22. David Eddyshaw says

    it’s depalatalization by the following /l/. The e is a lie.

    That seems unlikely in view of the secure AA etymology. Honestly, it’s one of the best AA reconstructions we have. The semantics “troubled maths genius/great man” are also a close match.

  23. The semantics “troubled maths genius/great man” are also a close match.

    Both obviously arise from adding a root extension *-l to an original biradical *gʷ-d-, also reflected in Arabic jadd “grandfather” and Berber (Kabyle) aggʷad “fear” (the otherwise puzzling semantic shift is transparently motivated by Gödel’s sad descent into paranoia).

  24. David Eddyshaw says

    This is an important point. The evidence that German belongs to Afroasiatic is inconclusive, and it is therefore possible that in this instance we are dealing with a Wanderwort. The transparent intra-AA etymology is thus of key significance in identifying the ultimate origin of the word.

  25. o, this is a treat!

    (my tardiness is not because kh’bin gevorn aza frumyák – i was on a weekend-long pilgrimage to the Bread & Puppet Theater’s end-of-season leaf-peeping pageant, which meant my sudes during khag were outdoors without the benefit of skhakh)

    as much as i can get cranky about what gets done to yiddish as it’s transcribed/transliterated within anglophone [can i say anglographic?] contexts, i very much appreciate and enjoy the elaborately chaotic things that happen when yeshivish gets written out in roman characters.

    @Y: i can’t really speak to how the two words work in yeshivish, which as rotenberg says is very much its own lect. but to my ear in yiddish, “red/reyd” is more like the broad sense of “discourse” – either a speech act* or the shape and structure of a mode of speaking (which we might want to call a lect, a register, etc) – and “shprakh” is pretty straightforwardly “language” (as is “loshn”, with a somewhat different flavor and set of connotations).

    * for instance, a conscription song says “…der reyd fun der yunger madam / bagist er zikh mit blutike trern” / “what the young wife said / made him overflow with bloody tears”.

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