Archive for June 20, 2008

The Most Heimish Post Ever

Posted in Heimish on June 20, 2008 by frumpunk

Before I get to the heimishness of the post I’d like to apologize to the people who apparently check in each day for the lack of posts. Even with no new posts for over a week I got roughly the same amount of hits each day. Occasionally I disappear for a while to do some contract work for an agency known only as ‘The Agency’. Snappy name, eh? I can’t say what we do, but Vladmir Putin is the head of Human Resources. Anyways, onto the post.

‘Heimish’ is just another word I never heard of until my first extended stay in New York. Then I heard it constantly. It’s been around four years and I still have no clue what it actually means. Somewhere in Flatbush there’s (or used to be) a bakery called ‘Shloimies Heimish Bakery’. My brother and I initially assumed heimish was a feature of the challah they baked, presumably the beard hair. (They all had great, very heimish beards, and it was safe to assume a decent portion ends up in the product, imbuing it with extra heimishness.)

I also heard of families being described as heimish. This is where I learned that heimish apparently just means ‘homely’. Safe enough, but in last weeks Mishpacha in one of the stories (might have been in Family First actually. Yes, I read it.) described a meeting as having a variety of families show up “everything from yeshivish to heimish”. From this I infer that heimish and yeshivish are opposite ends of a spectrum and I guess that means heimish is the opposite of yeshivish? But most families I know who are described as heimish tend to also be yeshivish. I’m not sure what the opposite of yeshivish is anyway. It’s either Modern Orthodox Liberal (thank you frumster) or a private Catholic school.

To add to my confusion, you can hire a heimish cab driver, buy heimish electronics, eat heimish food, cholent can be particularly heimish I’ve found. So does heimish simply mean ‘good’? But there’s too many other yiddish style words for good that are more fun to say, my favorite being ‘moiradik’. That’s another word I don’t know the meaning of beyond the fact it’s generally used to infer something is positive, in the single time I’ve actually heard it used, it was a bagel with cream cheese. I’m not sure if the bagel or the cream cheese were specifically moiradik, or if it was just the combination that raised its essence to moiradik. Safe to say it was probably some very heimish cream cheese.

So if heimish is just another yiddishism for something positive, why did heimish merit to be used in such a wide variety of contexts? Noones ever advertised as being a moiradik cab driver.

The single unifying point I can make for heimish is that if a person is heimish they’ll generally have a long beard, hence my original thesis that heimish is just beard hair. Hopefully it’s not actually in my challah. That would just be too heimish for me.