Growing up, Jewish jewelry meant one thing: a Star of David necklace. I had about ten of them, a collection generously bestowed upon me via bat mitzvah gifts. They were pretty. They all came from the same boutiques within a five-mile radius, and every other Jewish girl in my grade had the same ones. I loved being Jewish. I loved talking about being Jewish. I loved feeling Jewish. But I never loved wearing Judaica.
Now, well past my bat mitzvah years, I think it's simply because I didn't connect with the Jewish jewelry I had. When I think of what it means to be Jewish for me, I think of my beloved grandma. She was a portal to the Old World, where my great-grandparents lived on the shtetl and spoke Yiddish. I love Yiddish. I love how so many words sound exactly like their meaning. I love how much my grandparents and parents used (and use) Yiddish in everyday life—"watch your keppie!" "Look at that shana punim" "Kibbitzing with the machatunim" and of course, "Come here, mamaleh." I love how Yiddish has proliferated the American English dialect, where words like schlep, glitch or klutz have been folded into the secular vernacular without second thought.
For me, the beauty of Judaism has so much to do with its history. The most essential historical text, of course being the Torah. My bat mitzvah Torah portion, a little slice of Leviticus, was all about how to sacrifice animals, which I *geniusly* connected in my little speech to how I, a seventh grader, had to make "sacrifices" in my life, too—like letting my brother use the basement computer to burn a CD from Napster. So yeah, the Torah is ancient and doesn't always translate to what we experience today. But language? Language is a portal to our recent past. Through words that have trickled down from the shtetl to the dinner table with my family and daughter, it's as if we're reaching through dimensions to touch the finger tips of our parents' parents.
But maybe my favorite part about Yiddish is its inherent humor and subversion. Certain words are imbued with a wink or an eyebrow raise. It's funny. It's satire. it's wordplay. All this, a long way to introduce Mamaleh's Yidderish Collection.
Thank you :)