Secrets Of The Jews

Did you see any of Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing? Senator Lindsey Graham asked Kagan where she was on Christmas to which she replied:

You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only Jewish father to forward that video to his child. She’ll still probably never forgive me for not having a Christmas Tree while she was growing up.

If Senator Graham read this blog more frequently… OK, at all. If he read it at all he would have already known where Elena Kagan was!

Meanwhile there must be something in the air because Ann Nyberg (it’s Swedish, not Jewish) came to dinner with her own Jewish question.

“What does “kina hurra” mean?”

Kina hurra is a Yiddish expression I’ve heard and used all my life. I knew how to use it functionally, but didn’t know the exact dictionary definition. Like so many idiomatic phrases its meaning isn’t the sum of its component words.

You might say, “What a beautiful baby, kina hurra.” Or, if your team was winning big you wouldn’t say they’ve got the game in the bag because, “That might give them a kina hurra.”

Ann suggested I call my folks. They are, after all, members of the Yiddish Club at the condo.

The conversation wasn’t very satisfying because they too didn’t know the meaning either, but they’d check. Five minutes later they were back on the line!

Here’s their explanation as recorded live at the dinner table.

15 Responses to “Secrets Of The Jews”

  1. Fun topic… you taught me something I never fully knew. Quick question: was the video shot with a “flip” cam or more professional gear? Excellent quality.

    • Geoff Fox says:

      Ann shot that with a point-and-shoot (mainly) still camera. Lots of my videos here are shot on the iPhone. Neither of them produce professional quality video, but it suits this purpose.

  2. Josh K says:

    new iPhone 4 shoots 720p HD Video / 5 mp stills w. flash (and some of the android counterpart smartphones as well.)

    There really will be no reason to carry around a point and shoot anymore…

  3. Josh K says:

    Btw, Im sure you know this but since the iPhone 3GS has geotagging automatically, you can then upload these photos to Picasa and then port them to Google Earth.

    I did this on the mac application iPhone and its very cool to look at the distribution. Even if most of your pictures are taken in CT.

  4. Josh K says:

    *iPhoto .

  5. Wudz says:

    Thanks for sharing more of your two families with us.

    BTW, as I’m in CT for July I have to finally step up to the present and decide between a Droid Incredible or their new “X”. My friends with I-phones say AT&T Santa Fe coverage sucks, and my Verizon is fine both here and there as well.

  6. Lou Lange says:

    Thanks for the education, Geoff

  7. Michael says:

    Jeff, In English it would be something like being without envy. In them old days it would be more like “without evil eye”.

    BTW, Woodz no X yet, both the X and the Incredible (now obsoleted by Verizon) are on back order.

  8. Michael says:

    p.s. You can tell Ann to never use Horah in Sweden as that deals with a whole different business; as in the world’s oldest profession!

  9. DAF says:

    Totally evil-eye. My great aunts and uncles would say “poo-poo” rather than even SAYING “that baby is gorgeous” or what a wonderful job that young lady did at the bat mitzvah. There’s a layer of mysticism and superstition in our fine heritage that is more traditional than Talmudic, if that makes sense. I wonder if Justice Kagan will throw around more Yiddish in her opinions. I hope she does. I’ve heard Scalia use the term “chutzpah!”

  10. meredith says:

    Hilarious. I knew what it meant even though I’m Irish Catholic by heritage and upbringing, because I travel the world with the woman responsible for this.

    I know this is out of date … I’ll make sure we add the new term “kina hura” ASAP. She uses that phrase all the time, usually while holding on to her hamsa pendant for luck!

  11. Evi from Danbury says:

    This was so much fun to learn a new word in Yiddish. Geoff, thank your parents for always adding to your blog. Now…explain to me why my 1st charge nurse used to just look at me, shake her head and exclaim loudly with her eyes raised to the heavens, “meshugenah!!!!”…. ( I doubt it was complementary!)

    • Geoff Fox says:

      The word is officially “meshugah,” but my parents/family pronounced it as your co-worker did. It means “crazy” or “foolish.”

  12. Farrell says:

    Ke neih norra which means “without evil eyes”

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