Tales of long ago – with a Yiddish twist


More than 29 years ago, my husband Rubin, my father and I were taking a ride through some part of southern Florida outside of Miami.

We came to a red light and Rubin cut a man in a truck off. Now, it is important to know that Rubin’s son Arthur told me many years before, that his dad was not the greatest driver and not to think it was a function of age, he was never a good driver.

As we came to the next light, Rubin cut the same man off again. This time the man was very angry. He jumped out of his truck and was approaching our car. All I could see was this young, angry face with red hair and a red beard and tzitzit flying from under his shirt.

I looked at Rubin and said, “Red tsu im Yiddish.”(speak to him in Yiddish) As the young man approached the car, Rube opened his window, looked at the man and said, “Vas vilster fun mir? Ich bin an altar man.”  (What do you want from me? I am an old man.)

When the man heard these words, he threw up his hands and walked back to his truck.

My dad said, “May-Ronny, that was brilliant.” To this day, I have no idea of how speaking in Yiddish came to mind.

I want to thank Geraldine Foster for helping me with the transliteration of the Yiddish words.

MAY-RONNY ZEIDMAN is the executive director of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center.