Got Problems?

Yo, Yenta AdviceDear and loyal reader dfrosenzweig writes:

Why do you no longer have Yo, Yenta’s advice column? I used to like reading and getting your thoughts and opinions on issues relating to your subscribers. I’m one of them and wrote to you twice for just that purpose and it helped me. I’ve tried several times since to read about what other people are going through and can naver find it. Did you rename it, move it or remove it?

Well, Miz D, the truth is that since the Yenta moved from Jmerica to this autonomous site, there hasn’t been much call for my advising services. I just figured everyone’s lives were going so swimmingly that I was no longer needed, and have instead focused on Jewishy news and my own personal navel-gazing.

But listen, if you have tsuris, I’m more than happy to help. I probably won’t solve your problem, but I can provide graphic examples of people much worse off than you. C’mon, challenge me.

Send your kvetch to yoyenta -at- gmail.com and read past columns here!

The Definition of Schmeck?

Yo, Yenta Advice Reader Dave Reason (who admits to not being Jewish, but I have reason to believe may be Canadian) wants to know if I, of much useless linguistical knowledge, can help him with a wordsmithing challenge:

I have always used the expression “schmecks,” meaning “fits” or “works
for me.” For example, “I have been thinking about what to do on my
vacation, and the idea of going to Mexico schmecks.” A certain person here says there no such word or
expression, and gee, even the sainted Wikipedia seems to know nothing of
it. Have you ever heard of it?

Dave, I gotta say I never hoid of “schmeck,” though of course it sounds an awful lot like “schmuck,” so at first I was thinking “oy, this poor goy, he’s been telling people he wants to go act like a dickhead in Mexico.” But I put my researching skills (and picking through Google results is a skill, people) to work:

While there wasn’t an exact match on the Yiddish Dictionary, “shmek” translates into a “whiff,” as in “I opened the hamper and got a shmek of your socks; dude, use the Melaleuca foot spray already.” However, on the same search the YidDic lists “shmekele” as “little penis,” which isn’t the direction in which we’re wanting to travel, my mamaloshen-luvin’ mishpotechen.

I then found my way to Edna Staebler’s popular Mennonite cookbook
More Food That Really Schmecks
, leading to me to believe schmecks might be a synonym for “may cause a heart attack.” Tasty-lookin’ fare, but a little on the beige side for my taste, and not matching Dave’s usage.

Since Yiddish and German overlap linguistically at times, I thought to take a gander at the German permutations of “schmeck,” all of which have gastronomical connotations like “tasty,” “lip-smackin’,” and “that tastes like scheissdreck.”
In this context Miz Edna’s title makes sense, but fails even further to support Dave’s definition.

Urbandictionary.com contains an entry for “schmeck,” but I’m guessing it’s about as far from validating our friend Dave as one could get:

(n.) Gay motherfucker, frequently the object of affection of the men of Boston. Frequently plays with PuBEs. (There is no further clarification to be found on the term “PuBe;” perhaps my boys in Boston can elucidate?)

So Dave — sorry, man. All I came up with is penis whiff, tasty potato pie and bottoms from Beantown. But language is a fluid thing, always changing, some words dropping out of the lexicon from neglect and others gaining momentum. The future of “schmeck” is in your hands, friend — go make your definition official!

Yenta Fashion Footwear Rant

When my mother first whispered to me that only courvas let their brastraps show, I didn’t judge the sudden legions of women with elastic bands playing peek-a-boo (even though personally, I wouldn’t leave the house in a tank top without my trusty racerback.)

I’ve learned to accept “bitch” as a term of endearmeant between straight men who aren’t in prison.

But there is one trend that I will never, ever, EVER get behind, and that is the acceptance of flip-flops as footwear for all occasions.

I work in the financial district in San Francisco, and y’know, I make an effort every day to look like … well, like I’m going to work. Not tubing down the Yuba River for Senior Ditch Day. Not on my way to a pedicure. Not avoiding touching the floor of the group shower stalls at summer camp where the scum was so thick that the soap was lost forever if you dropped it.

Some have argued with me that it’s a carefree look, evoking a “I’m going to the beach right after this meeting” kind of capriciousness. “And they’re so comfortable!” whined a friend of mine uneducated in the ways of refinement.

If my momma taught me anything, it’s that thin rubber slabs on the feet equals low � oh wait, sorry � NO class.

Even the Manolo agrees, and he’s the most superfantastic of all shoe experts.

They’re not even really shoes, for heaven’s sake � can you run in them? Do they provide any sort of arch support? Can you prevent yourself from faceplanting if someone accidently steps on the back? Will they protect your soles from searing pavement? They melt, people � I grew up in Arizona and I’ve seen it happen.

But really, my objection is aesthetic. This morning there was a young(er than me) woman in the elevator wearing a smart mini blazer over a darling flowery frock � and carrying a Coach purse, mind you � with Old Navy thongs on her feet. I’m not saying the bag absolutely match the shoes, but if she worked for me, she’d be fired. But she got out on the second floor, so she’s probably a lawyer. (A lazy one, too; she couldn’t make it up one flight of stairs in her “comfy” shoes?)

Oh, and the ones all dolled-up with glued-on sequins with a rubber heel, like something Zsa Zsa Gabor would wear to your grandpa’s pool party? F*in hideous, do you hear me? Continue reading

Yo, Yenta Advice! Love, Loss and Love Again

Yo, Yenta! AdviceYo, Yenta!
I wonder if you or your readers could help me with what I call Adult Separation Anxiety.

I am a widowed father of three great children ages 9, 12 and 13. My wife passed away to illness about two-and-a half years ago. Since then I have put my life back together and made my children the most important things in my life.

I have since for the last year have met this wonderful Jewish girl. Our relationship is very strong and we are very committed to each other I am planning on proposing around Chanukah time.

Here is my problem: Just recently she took a trip to England with one of her girl friends. I was so happy for her to go away and have a good time, but I also felt abandoned. Ever since she returned home I can’t stop thinking about her or wanting to be with her nonstop. I know that it is not good for our relationship or my relationship with my children. I felt like I was a rock before she left, now I feel like the foundation under my feet has been weakened.

I love my her and my children very much. But I feel like my insecurity of not being with her every second of the day or thinking about her is driving me up a wall! Please help….

—Drowning in Insecurity


Yo, Drowning! First of all, mazel tov on making a new relationship with a woman who supports Jewish family life. It must have been extremely difficult for you and your children to adjust to life without their mother; I imagine that it is a continual process to create happiness and a feeling of safety for your family.

You have lost one partner to the unknowable and unfair web of God’s will, and your fears of abandonment by this new woman are understandable, even justified. You want reassurance that she’s going to be there if you’re going to commit again. You likely worry that your family could not sustain another great loss, so you need to be in her presence or be thinking of her in order to make sure your world is intact. You’re clinging hard. Continue reading

Not Jewish, No Way?

Yo, Yenta! AdviceYo, Yenta!
I’m going through a dilemma right now. I broke up with a man who wasn’t Jewish and thought was my soul mate. The reason we broke up was the differences in religion. Although I am not religious I feel it is necessary that both parents be Jewish in order for the children to fully experience Jewish culture in the home. As much as I want this, I’m beginning to think that it will never happen. I’m beginning to feel that by passing up the man I thought was my soul mate that no one else will ever be able to come into my life who I can feel this way about again.
Is it your opinion that I can fall in love again?
Do you think that the differences in religion are a reason for us not to be together or that it is only an excuse?
Denise R.


Yo, Denise! You wouldn’t be the first Jew to call off a relationship with a gentile person for the same reasons. Continue reading

Yo Yenta! Advice: The Babysitter

Yo, Yenta! Advice Yo, Yenta!
I am a Jewish single mother of two who is trying to get back in the dating scene. My problem is that my babysitter is a very religious Christian woman and I suspect that she is trying to “save” my children by talking to them about Jesus when I’m not there. My older son told me last night that “Jesus is always watching” and that his little brother is going to hell for his sins. She’s been with our family since the boys were small and was very reliable through my divorce. They adore her and so do I, but all this Jesus talk is making me very uncomfortable. Should I let her go?

- Worried Jewish Mother, Atlanta, GA

Yo, Worried Jewish Mother!: Oy, motherhood is hard enough without someone trying to sabotage you at every turn. I can understand that this woman is a vital part of your support system who makes it possible for you to find another Jewish mate. But no matter how much a part of the family she may feel, the fact is, she’s not. You pay her to take care of your children and that is a business relationship, first and foremost. Continue reading

Yo Yenta! Advice: The Fencesitter

Yo, Yenta! Advice Yo, Yenta!
I have been in a relationship with a non-Jewish woman for eight years. I have always been up front about not wanting to marry her, but we can’t seem to break up, either. We lived together until two years ago and ended up being friends, then friends with benefits, then back to couplehood again, although I would never give up my own place (she’s a slob.) I don’t even know if I want to get married at all, to anyone, ever, but I don’t feel comfortable bringing her to family gatherings and including her in the Jewish part of my life, which isn’t even very much. I do love her, what do I do?

On The Fence, Scottsdale, AZ

Yo, On The Fence!: Tell me, it must be the sex. You don’t want to marry her or live with her, you just want to shtup her, right? Why she puts up with you I have no idea-must be the sex. Continue reading

Yo Yenta! Advice: Cringe-Worthy Yiddish

Yo, Yenta! Advice Yo, Yenta!
My boyfriend and I are having an argument over the word “shvartze,” which is how he sometimes refers to African-American people. He is from the South and insists that it is a cultural term and isn’t meant in any kind of derogatory or racist way. I am from California, and I think it’s just rude to say things like “the shvartze at the Quick-Mart gave me the wrong change” or ” that’s a shvartze neighborhood, lock you doors.” I was taught by my Jewish parents not to differentiate people by their color, religion or sexual identity. My boyfriend’s family is always making comments about African-Americans and other minorities as if it’s still the 1950′s. I love my boyfriend and respect his family, but in this day and age, shouldn’t politically incorrect terms like this be laid to rest?

- P.C. in D.C.

Yo, P.C.!: The word “shvartze” literally means “black” in Yiddish and was used as a neutral descriptive noun for things and people back in the Old Country (it was also applied to the strictly religious for their black clothing.) In an English context, it became a pejorative term for the servants used by Jewish Americans and is still employed by older generations to refer to people of color, particularly Continue reading

Yo Yenta! Advice: Try some Gerber Daisies

Yo, Yenta! Advice Yo, Yenta!
I’ve been IMing a very nice woman for a few weeks and we’ve made a date. I would like to buy her a small gift for our first meeting, but I don’t want to scare her off (coming on too strong has been a problem for me in the past.) What would be an appropriate present?

- Hopeful in Miami, FL

Yo, Hopeful!: I’m dying to know what you’ve brought in the past that scares off women. A dog-hair sweater? A bottle of rotgut tequila and a sequined thong? The key to your secret underground lair where you play Dungeons and Dragons? Continue reading

Yo, Yenta! Advice: A Jew Of All Angles

Yo, Yenta! Advice Yo, Yenta!
I’m a baby boomer who has dabbled in every kind of spirituality, starting with the Mahareeshi in college, a Buddhist phase, a few Bahai meetings and I’m finally back at to the Judaism of my youth. I go to temple, but I still borrow rituals and inspiration from other belief systems. I am looking for a Jewish mate, but the men I meet are either too materialistic and put off by my strong spirituality or they reject my unique perspective, saying I’m not “Jewish” enough. Can’t there be something in the middle?

- A Jew Of All Angles, Los Angeles, CA

Yo, Jew Of All Angles: While purists define “serious” Jews as those who study Torah and eschew all else, this yenta sees nothing wrong with informing one’s beliefs with other information that enhances Continue reading