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Cousins Mike & Murray’s Yiddish Primer #4: What’s A Mensch?

Since I started hosting The Cousins on Mondays and Fridays, the boys have been giving me lessons in Yiddish. Check out below for an example:

So with the help of the boys, we thought we’d share insight into this wonderful language to the younger Stoolies. Last week, we covered the words “Nebbish” (there’s a link to all the lessons at the bottom of this blog).

The word for today is “Mensch,” which is one of those Yiddish words I’ve actually heard of before.

What’s a Mensch? 

The dictionary defines a Mensch as a “person of integrity and honor.” In other words, maybe the best compliment you can give someone in Yiddish.

Not surprisingly, Cousin Mike had some thoughts on who is a Mensch. “Warren Buffet is a Super Mensch,” he said, “because he gives a lot of money to charity; Bill Gates is a Mensch, too, for charity purposes.” 

Cousin Mike also thinks Robert Kraft, because he’s so charitable, is a Mensch. Interestingly enough, he also thinks Kraft is a Putz (see link below) for “getting caught at a massage parlor.”

The Jewish Chronicle published a detailed article on who and what is a Mensch, declaring “There are few higher Jewish compliments to pay someone than to call them a mensch, though, of course, a true mensch would be too modest to want to be complimented.” Interestingly enough, the origins of the word is “human being” so it can be applied equally to men and women. 

So being a Mensch is not just a compliment, but something we should all aspire to become. After all, we could use more Mensches in our lives.

Class dismissed. See you all next week and if you’re interested in learning more Yiddish words, tune into the Cousins on Sirius XM Radio Power 85 every weekday at 9am EST. 

Lesson 1: Schmuck

Lesson 2: Yutz & Putz

Lesson 3: Nebbish