Among Christians, there is a temptation— and evil follows if we give in to it— to reduce Judaism to a exclusively religious and even “Old Testament” domain. The harm that follows is that we see our imaginations rather than people. This is especially so when we are culturally isolated— without the opportunities to encounter real people to correct our imaginings.
When we experience a culture apart from our imagined ideals (or negatives), we can experience empathy in place of misunderstanding and scorn.
There are many ways that Jewish culture has influenced American life. The influence on our language is just one of them. It is hard to imagine American English without some of the expressive Yiddish words that are in our language. We would be poorer without them.
Here is a list of a few of them (from Wikipedia).
- bagel: a ring-shaped bread roll made by boiling, then baking, the dough
- chutzpah: nerve, guts, daring, audacity, effrontery
- dreck: worthless, distasteful, or nonsensical material
- klutz: clumsy person
- kvetch: to complain habitually, gripe; as a noun, a person who always complains
- maven: expert; when used in a negative sense: a know-it-all; enthusiast
- mensch: an upright man; a decent human being
- nosh: snack
- schmaltz: melted chicken fat; excessive sentimentality
- schmo: a stupid person
- schmooze: to converse informally, make small talk or chat
- schnoz or schnozz also schnozzle: a nose, especially a large nose
- shtick: comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature
- spiel or shpiel: a sales pitch or speech intended to persuade
- spritz: (noun) a sprinkling or spray of liquid; a small amount of liquid
There are lots of resources on the Internet where we can educate ourselves in positive ways and increase our understand of the people around us. The world will be a better place if we take advantage of these opportunities.
Here is a link to an article with more on this topic....
From Yiddish to English: The Humor of It All