Book Reviews,  FOUR STARS ****,  Judaism/Jewish Culture,  Language,  NON FICTION

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All its Moods by Michael Wex **** (of 4)

Wex is three-fourths scholar and one quarter stand-up comic. In departure from say Rosten’s books on Yiddish, which list words, definitions, and accompanying anecdotes, Wex puts Yiddish in its sociological and historical context. So more than learning a few words, which by and large go by too fast and in constructions that are too long to recall, I learned an immense amount about why Yiddish was an essential language for people living apart — both by choice and by force — from their European goyish neighbors. If it is at all possible, I recommend listening to Wex read his book on CD. September 2006