Yiddish, or Rules

A few  years ago a 13 year old boy

won a Yiddish spelling bee by spelling

knaidel, Yiddish for Matzoh ball.

But YIVO, the official source for Yiddish words

in transliteration said the correct spelling

is kneydl and so the spelling bee officials

said YIVO was authoritative and the 13  year old boy

was disqualified even though most of us agreed

about knaidel. Many people Weighed In

with their knaidel kneydl opinions including

One Big Scholar.  He said

Who Cares About the Transliteration.

Knaidelach are delicious

and that’s what actually counts.




Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. I love how you capture the internal conflict over Yiddish in all ways. Reminds me of a New York magazine article that showed the internal fight over what form of Yiddish was officially “correct” at the Jewish Daily Forward. The editors would send down copy as they approved it and the rebellious typesetters would change the spellings in the composing room! It reminded me of my “mixed” Litvak-Galicianer family whose competitive pronunciation of Yiddish had me in a constant state of wakamole.

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