Yiddish is a truly amazing language. It’s a real catch for the tongue: Fun to speak and always saying exactly what it means.
Yiddish words have made their way solidly in to the American version of the English language. Many Americans speak the words that were once used only by my grandparents’ generation: Shmuck. Kibitz. Schlep. Nosh. Nearly everyone uses them, and knows what they mean. These words are even in Spell-Check now. Go figure.
Here are two others: Putz and Mensch. Putz is a kinder, gentler way of saying “schmuck”, almost in a friendlier manner. But it means the same thing.
Mensch is a good thing: Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, defines mensch this way: Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, and a sense of what is right, responsible, and decorous.
So, who is the Mensch of the Week and Putz of the Week here at NJPoliticsUnusual this week?
Mensch of the Week: It’s the folks who put together last night’s Presidential Democratic Caucus. Real mensches, the whole bunch. The sponsoring mensches were:
- NJ for Democracy (DFA)
- NJ's Democratic Future
- Blue Jersey
- Garden State Equality
- NJ Stonewall Democrats
- NJ Jewish Democratic Caucus
- Democratic State Committee Progressive Caucus
- Blue Wave
- NJ Arab-American Democratic Caucus
- National Jewish Democratic Council/NJ Chapter.
It was fun, fantastic, and exciting –an Iowa like caucus. My candidate, Gov. Bill Richardson, was the first to get knocked out of the box. I am still with him, though.
Senator John Edwards won the caucus, with Senator Barack Obama a close second. Hillary was knocked out early, by Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
To the group of jaded professionals in the room, it was a very inspirational event. The progressives in New Jersey got to flex their combined muscle a bit, and showed Hillary that she has got to be concerned about support here in New Jersey.
Those groups are Mensches of the Week for making politics exciting again.
Putz of the week: The folks at Red Jersey.net, for taking a stand opposing the abolition of the death penalty. As forward thinkers around the country march toward a more progressive society, and eliminate this cruel and unusual punishment from their state laws, the folks at RedJersey.net wish to stay in the dark ages, clinging to a form of punishment that is morally unjust and ethically unworkable.
And, so, for their lobbying effort to block the vote in the Senate set for this week, to abolish the death penalty, they are the Putz of the Week.
Maybe next week we will do this again.