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Jewish as a Second Language
by Molly Katz
Now bigger, better, and with more guilt: a completely revised, updated, and expanded second edition (would it hurt to have a little more?) of Jewish as a Second Language, the hilarious field guide to Jewish language and culture. Written to help her Gentile husband and others like him who fall for believing a Jewish mother-in-law when she says, “Don’t bother driving me, I’ll take a cab,” Jewish as a Second Language shows how to be one of the family―how to worry, how to interrupt, how to change your hotel room. It’s not Yiddish. Though non-Jews can endear themselves by learning how to mis-use words like schmendrick and schmatta―providing both laughs and confirmation of Jewish superiority―this Jewish language is about the complex twists and somersaults of everyday speech, of unexpected nuances, hidden meanings, and swampy thickets of behavior, of wins, losses, and draws in competitions you never knew you entered. It’s about the most common OAQs (obsessive anal questions): “This mole looks okay, doesn’t it?” “Can Saltines go bad?” “They’ll de-ice the wings before takeoff, right?” The Four Basic Shrugs. Acronyms never to use again: NASCAR, STD, and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, the potentially deadly skin virus that’s spread by contact, and also by talking about it casually). The things non-Jews do for fun and what Jews do: Contra dance/Contradict, Read the comics/Read the obituaries, Get your boobs done/Get your taxes done. Stuff never found in a Jewish home (trout flies, a lineoleum knife, a Lay-Z-Boy, a rottweiler) or mouth (Miracle Whip, marshmallow fluff, Bud). So you’ll sit, you’ll read, you’ll laugh until you’re nauseous. It’s a nice book.