More than a quarter of a century ago, Leo Rosten published the first comprehensive and hilariously entertaining lexicon of the colorful and deeply expressive language of Yiddish. Said “to give body and soul to the Yiddish language,” The Joys of Yiddish went on to become an indispensable tool for writers, journalists, politicians, and students, as well as a perennial bestseller for three decades.
Rosten described his book as “a relaxed lexicon of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Yinglish words often encountered in English, plus dozens that ought to be, with serendipitous excursions into Jewish humor, habits, holidays, history, religion, ceremonies, folklore, and cuisine–the whole generously garnished with stories, anecdotes, epigrams, Talmudic quotations, folk sayings, and jokes.” To this day, it is considered the seminal work on Yiddish in America–a true classic and a staple in the libraries of Jews and non-Jews alike.
With the recent renaissance of interest in Yiddish, and in keeping with a language that embodies the variety and vibrancy of life itself, The New Joys of Yiddish brings Leo Rosten’s masterful work up to date. Revised for the first time by Lawrence Bush in close consultation with Rosten’s daughters, it retains the spirit of the original–with its wonderful jokes, tidbits of cultural history, Talmudic and Biblical references, and tips on pronunciation–and enhances it with hundreds of new entries, thoughtful commentary on how Yiddish has evolved over the years, and an invaluable new English-to-Yiddish index. In addition, The New Joys of Yiddish includes wondrous and amusing illustrations by renowned artist R.O. Blechman.