Modern Hebrew words and expressions in Yiddish

Many people in Israel use words that are actually Yiddish. This language has been taught at eTeacher for the last few years and we’ve chosen today to take a moment to highlight its connection to the Hebrew language, especially since fewer and fewer people in Israel today realize that they commonly use Yiddish words in their everyday speech!

Let’s begin with a word that describes a small child or a small object. The word is צוּצִיק-Tsutsik (tsadi-vav-tsadi-yod-qof). This word rhymes with the Hebrew word for belly button- פּוּפִּיק- Pupik (peh-vav-peh-yod-qof).


Oftentimes, simply walking down the street in Israel, you will likely see some guys pulling or driving an open cart, yelling out the words “אַלְטֶע זָאכֶן” – “alte zachen.” In Yiddish this term means “old objects”. The person yelling it intends to collect any old objects (also known as hard rubbish/hard trash) that we may have in our homes and no longer need.

Every one of us has small objects that we don’t need. In Yiddish they’re called  פִּיצֶ’פְקֶעס- Phitschefkess. In order to get rid of them all we have to do is ask the אַלְטֶע זָאכֶן to pick them up!

When we celebrate Lag Ba’Omer , or when we’re camping out with friends or family, it’s always nice to sit around the bonfire, or “Qumzits”- קוּמְזִיץ (qof-vav-mem-zayin-yod-tsadi sofit). At a Qumzits you can eat roasted potatoes that are called “Qartoschqhess”-קארטושקעס.

When we hear or see something that looks a bit odd to us on first glance, but then we realize is actually fine, we often utter the Yiddish expression – אוֹתָהּ הַגְּבֶרֶת בְּשִׁנּוּי אַדֶּרֶת-”otah ha-geveret be-shinuyaderet” – which literally means that this is the same lady who has simply changed her clothes.

Another expression that we often use, which is particularly relevant right now during the period of the nine days is called -פַּרְצוּף שֶׁל תִּשְׁעָה בְּאָב- that literally means,  “A face of the Ninth of Av.” That is the date upon which we commemorate the destruction of the First and the Second Temples, as well as other sad events in Jewish History. There is only one Ninth of Av, so if you see someone looking sad you might say to them, “Why do you have a Ninth of Av face on? You should be happy instead!”

Have a great week,


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