Top 17 Yiddish Quotes

Words matter. These are the best Yiddish Quotes from famous people such as Jerry Leiber, David Steinberg, Mandy Patinkin, Joel Grey, Amy Bloom, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.

It's self-effacing, it's hard-luck, the shtetl stories.

It’s self-effacing, it’s hard-luck, the shtetl stories. All those Coasters things are an amalgam of Yiddish and black humor.
Jerry Leiber
The one thing an audience always has in common with a comedian is troubles. The Yiddish word for that is tsuris. You’re always putting your tsuris on stage whether you like it or not. No one is untroubled, unless they’re just, you know, an imbecile.
David Steinberg
The songs I love to sing are story songs, from Yiddish songs to Tom Waits.
Mandy Patinkin
My father was Mickey Katz, who worked with Spike Jones and then went on to improvise some successful Yiddish parodies, some of which I perform. My favorite was ‘Geshray of the Vilde Kotchke,’ his version of ‘Cry of the Wild Goose.’
Joel Grey
My sister and I used to act as maids and waitresses at my great aunt and uncle’s cocktail parties, which were very much sort of retired, minor stars of the Yiddish theater and the Yiddish opera.
Amy Bloom
I never learned to speak Yiddish, ever.
Joel Grey
When my father came out on stage wearing a big cowboy hat and a shirt lettered ‘Bar Mitzvah Ranch’ to sing ‘Home on the Range’ in Yiddish, it was his way of saying, ‘I want to be an American.’
Joel Grey
The prejudice is still there, but it’s breaking down. You have writers like Michael Chabon and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. He’s a writer who’s determined to break down genre barriers. He’s done amazing things.
George R. R. Martin
I realised a long time ago that instrumental music speaks a lot more clearly than English, Spanish, Yiddish, Swahili, any other language. Pure melody goes outside time.
Carlos Santana
Growing up in California, my best friend was Morris Rabinowitz and we often went to the Yiddish Theater.
Frank Sinatra Jr.
In his 70s, when I was in my 40s, my father still read me the stories he wrote about his childhood. His intonation, his pronunciation of Yiddish, our cackling at his jokes live on.
Michael Rosen
I know very little about my great grandparents, who came through Ellis Island in the early twentieth century, settled in Baltimore, and spoke only Yiddish.
Claire Saffitz
A Jewish deli should specialize in, first and foremost, Yiddish foods, the foods of the Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews. So, if it’s a place that specializes in pizza or chicken wings or diner food and then does a corned beef sandwich on the side, it’s not a Jewish delicatessen.
David Sax
I abandoned my second novel completely. Writing ‘Kavalier & Clay,’ I had several moments of utter collapse. Same with ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.’
Michael Chabon
My dad was raised Orthodox in Atlanta. He speaks Hebrew. He speaks Yiddish. He married a Jewish woman who is not Orthodox, so I was brought up by two different kinds of Jews.
Alex Borstein
I am a fifth-generation American, but from a young age, I went to yeshiva. I spent 12 hours a day with rabbis, and I think in Yiddish. To this day, I have to go back and unravel my writing and polish it so everyone doesn’t sound like an old Jewish woman.
Nathan Englander
Brandeis is so fast and loose and informal, I didn’t have any problem offering a history course as a biologist. The barriers would be far more formidable, unscalable, at other institutions. But this is a user-friendly place. It’s ‘Shmedrik University’ – that’s a Yiddish word for even worse than schlemiel.
Jeffrey C. Hall