The Most Heimish Post Ever

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.

20 Responses to “The Most Heimish Post Ever”

  1. LOL!!! I love it! Beard hair…

    You know, they make little chin nets for food service beard wearers. While required by OSHA regulations, are these nets heimish? Probably not – since they keep the essence of heimish cooking out of the product – beard hair.

    I love it when a complex question can be answered so simply. Well done! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. After reading this post, I decided to ask my brother what exactly heimesh meant. He didn’t have an answer either. Maybe I’ll ask one of his rebbeim.

  3. Very interesting point I think I am now confused and at the same time not.

  4. Heimish means being Yeshivish but not to serious about dressing in fancy cloths. It means focusing on the Kugal on your plate and not the kugal that fell on your shirt.

  5. Great post. Initially when becoming frum I also thought that heimish meant “homely”, but it’s hard to define. I often use the phrase “heimish as hell” among friends.

    It’s sort of being overly friendly to your “type of yidden”.

  6. hellaheimish? lol
    I think Osem makes Heimish Farfel. I keep meaning to pick up a package for a friend of mine who enjoys using that word.

  7. As used by my mom’s generation heimish comes from the Yiddish “in der heim (at home),” which is how immigrants here post WWII would describe where they grew up in Europe. “Heimish” meant home-like. It’s the opposite of “new fangled.” Heimishe mentchen were people with similar backgrounds to your own. The term has gotten passed down but more generally means now “people who are just like you.”

  8. ProfK: So when Mishpacha Magazine which might just be the epitome of yeshivish says โ€œeverything from yeshivish to heimishโ€ what does that mean?

  9. In Monsey I stayed at a Heimishe family who described to me that they were yeshivishe people with chassidish minhagim- so they wear bend down hats and dont have long peyos, but they say “Nee” instead of “Nu”

  10. chevramaidel Says:

    Does “heimish” mean homely?Only when used by a shadchan.

  11. chevramaidel Says:

    Heimish,yes.Beheimish,keep looking.

  12. […] to mean- but obviously it isn’t being used for what its supposed to be used for. Even frum punk tried to figure out the meaning and […]

  13. Heimishe also means paying with food stamps in the bakery when your eight children in tow are all wearing matching designer outfits.
    It means you paid for half the price of your new home in cash.
    Government, Shmovernment……..

  14. Chiming in a little late, but when you say something or someone is heimish, generally it means it has a european/hungarian touch. When it comes to shidduchim some people interpret it as the person having money.

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  18. Anonymous Says:

    Found this by accident on a Google search. Love it. Had to say– I think that “moiradik” literally translates to “awesome” in English. Think about it in context, and also the shoresh: yirah. It is usually used positively by yeshivish people, but also is used to say that something blew your mind.

  19. I found this just as your last commenter did — googling for heimish! (That’s my new band name, btw). Fab piece. fwiw, in my utterly NOT Orthodox world, “heimish” is exactly as defined by ProfK — a linguistic holdover that has nothing to do with observance level, but is all about non-fancy comfort and homeliness.

  20. Ahaa, its fastidious conversation regarding this paragraph here at this web site, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.

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