Eine Kleine Yiddishe Carol
Here’s a Christmas carol unlike any other, complete with scrolling lyrics to help you sing along and a glossary of Yiddish terms. The Starr Conspiracy’s own Lou Chapman co-wrote and sings the largely autobiographical offering, recorded many yule seasons past with the not quite legendary ensemble, Michael Aitch Price and His Noel Laureates.
“Goodbye to the Talmud, Hello to the Manger” is from Claus & Effect, available on Amazon.com.
(Please see the glossary below for the translation of italicized words, most of which are Yiddish.)
- yeshiva — orthodox Jewish school or sstronginary
- baruchas — blessings
- bubbleh — grandma
- schmaltz — rendered chicken fat (Jewish bacon grease)
- goystrong — non-Jews, plural
- shiksas — non-Jewish women (singular = shiksa)
- knishas — Eastern European snack food consisting of a dough-covered filling that is baked, grilled, or deep fried
- Rosh Hashanah — New Year (Hebrew)
- Pesach — Passover
- mezuzah — piece of parchment, usually contained in a decorative case, inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah and placed on a building’s front doorpost
- kreplach — the Jewish version of dumplings, traditionally filled with ground meat, mashed potatoes, or another filling
- Oy vey — “oh woe”; an expression of dismay or exasperation.
Goodbye to the Talmud, Hello to the Manger
(Christmas Jew Blues)
I was born a poor Jew boy, left its mark after seven days.
Went to yeshiva, learned all the Hebrew ways.
Learned how say baruchas over water and over wine.
Learned from my bubbleh to brown the onions and use schmaltz to make chopped liver taste sublime.
- But then my folks moved to the suburbs, they’d given me no warning.
- It was goyem on every corner, it was church bells in the morning.
- My friends spoke of communion, they spoke of you know who.
- I was confused: Was I a middle-class white boy, or a Jew?
I got a little older, I said this ain’t so bad.
These shiksas kind of like me, I’m different from what they’ve had.
They think my family’s hip, they think we’re real well read.
They ask, “Where do you hide your money, honey?”
And, “Do you wear that beanie to bed?”
- Nu, I married me a blonde bomb, all against my mama’s wishes.
- I said, “Ma, she doesn’t nag or whine, you can teach her to make knishas.”
- “Don’t worry, Ma, we’ll raise the kids in both religions.”
- What happened next not even Moses could envision.
It’s goodbye to the Talmud, hello to the manger.
So long, Rosh Hashanah, even Pesach is in danger.
I focus all my energies on that special time of year.
Hide the checkbook, check the sales, count the days down: Christmastime is here.
- You know, I thought I married a woman, only to learn later
- She’s a creature that thrives on tinsel and wrapping paper.
- She devours ornaments whole, she’s got a thing about St. Nick.
- She’s addicted to porcelain angels, cherubic elves, and mountains of gifts.
She’s got Christmas-season dishes, Christmas-season cups,
Christmas-season bowls for the dogs and for the pups.
Darling Santa stares up at me from the mat on the bathroom floor.
- My mezuzah cries out for reinforcements all alone on the front door.
- But I’ve become an expert on every kind of Christmas tree.
- Do you want long needles, or prefer more density?
- Blue Spruce, Chinese Elm, my baby stalks the perfect one.
- I’m along to write the check, a good Jew’s work is never done.
I’ve spent a fortune on a billion points of light.
Hanging clips, extension cords, candles that burn so bright,
Little elfin door stops, fake snow for the window panes.
My menorah’s growing rusty. I know, I have only myself to blame.
- You see, the shopping starts in summer, it goes on through Christmas Eve.
- All the things my shiksa buys my tired eyes cannot believe.
- Gifts for friends, gifts for family. She brings her list to bed.
- Gifts for people I’ve heard by shiksa say she’d rather see dead.
I’m dying for some kreplach, my baby bakes a ham.
Again I’ve spent a fortune on the birthday of the man
My people are accused of nailing to a cross.
I’m paying my dues in pretty wreaths, and in angel-hair floss
- Last year I said, “I’ve had it.” I tried to explain
- We didn’t survive the camps to go broke no Christmas Day.
- But my shiksa she said, from the bottom of her heart.
- “We can spend just as much on Hanukkah. Just tell me where to start.”