Glossary

An Evening of Short Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer*

Our free livestream event on Saturday, 20th February 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

*All the stories are child-friendly

A glossary of words included in our stories

SchlemielA shlemiel is a Yiddish term for a fool or inept, clumsy person
ChelmThe fictional village, setting of many of Singer’s humorous stories
Chanukah (Also spelt Hanukkah)Chanukah was a minor holiday that has grown in significance for Jews in the modern era. It falls around the winter solstice and commemorates two miracles. The first was the victory of Jewish rebels against the stronger Syrian forces occupying their land. The second was the small amount of oil, sufficient for lighting the lamps in the rededicated temple for just one day, burnt for 8 nights. This was enough to procure more oil without the “eternal flame” in the sanctuary ever extinguishing.
DreidelA spinning top with Hebrew letters engraved on its side that is used to play a betting game. According to legend, the Jewish rebels played dreidel to appear innocent when they met in small groups to make plans
Menorah (also Chanukia or hanukkiah or Chanukah lamp)A nine-branched lamp. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, a candle is added to light. The ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others.
Heder (also spelled cheder)An elementary Jewish school in which children are taught to read the Torah and other books in Hebrew
PentateuchA book with 5 books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) for study and prayer.
Shalach-monosPurim gifts
HasidimMembers of a Jewish mystical sect founded in Poland about 1750 in opposition to rationalism and ritual laxity
TrefRitually unclean or unfit according to Jewish law —opposed to kosher
Krochmalna StreetA street in the poor, Yiddish-speaking Jewish quarter of Warsaw where Singer lived from early childhood to his early teens. The unique atmosphere of pre-war Krochmalna Street is the setting for many of Singer’s stories and novels.
PurimPurim is a joyous holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre in ancient Persia. The story’s heroine is Esther; its villain is named Haman. The holiday is traditionally celebrated with costumes, loud humorous retellings of the story, and with the giving of gifts to friends and the poor.
Characters in the Purim storyKing Ahasuerus, Haman the Wicked, the chamberlain Harbona, Queen Vashti, Vaizatha, the tenth son of Haman, and Queen Esther. 
Din TorahA hearing of a dispute in front of a recognized Beis Din (Jewish court), in accordance with Jewish law. This dispute may relate to any commercial or personal matter which would normally be adjudicated in a court of law.
TorahThe Torah is a leather or parchment scroll of the 5 books of Moses used in a synagogue, but in speaking of his father, Singer refers to the body of wisdom and law contained in Jewish Scripture and other sacred literature and oral tradition:
The Maharsha by Rabbi Samuel Eliezer EdelsEdels (1555 – 1631) was a renowned rabbi and Talmudist born in Poland. It is typical for Jewish scholars such as Singer’s father to read not only the original Torah but the commentary of those scholars and thinkers who came before them.   
CholentA stew often eaten on Sabbath. It cooks slowly in the residual heat of an oven in observance of the Sabbath rules.
Joana O’Neil

Tune in on Saturday, 20th February 2021 at 7.30 p.m by clicking on the following link:

The playlist with a selection of music from our evening can also be found here:

The stories are © The Isaac Bashevis Singer Literary Trust

Reading by permission of Liepman AG, Zurich

Published by Couch Theatre

A professional English and German-language theatre company in Hamburg, Germany specializing in readings and staged readings / Ein professionelles englisch- und deutschsprachiges Theater in Hamburg, das sich auf Lesungen und szenische Lesungen spezialisiert

3 thoughts on “Glossary

  1. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday evening. Many congratulations on the Live Streaming of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Short Stories read so beautifully by Rebecca with accompanying music by Paul. You look as young as you did when we last saw you Rebecca 21 years ago. It was an amazing production, well done to everyone concerned. Keep up the good work. With very best wishes and love from Sue and Graham Williams, Forest of Dean, U.K.

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