April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It has been half a century since Jews with even a smattering of Yiddish burst out laughing in movie theaters while watching the unconventional classic, “Blazing Saddles.”Hearing Yiddish spoken on the silver screen is one thing; hearing Yiddish spoken on the silver screen by an Apache or Cherokee chieftain replete with headdress is quite something else.

Loz im gayn!” (“Let him go!”) bellows the chieftain, played by Mel Books. As a tribute to the brilliant but irreverent artistic inanity of the above-quoted Yiddish, I offer five derivatives of the word loz (let):

Oppgehlozt (neglected or shabby). When my wife and I go for a stroll, we inevitably remark about the houses we pass. Every so often, I sum up a deteriorated dwelling with the word oppgehlozt. A house becomes oppgehlozt when the owner lets necessary repairs and upkeep go wanting.

Dehrlozt (permitted). Unlike oppgehlozt, which is a state of being, dehrlozt is third-person singular as well as a subjunctive. Vehr hott dehrlozt ahz doo zolst trinken mahshkeh? (Who permitted you to drink liquor?) is a question where the identity of the third person who granted permission is in question. Venn dine tatteh volt doh gevven volt ehr azah zach nisht dehrlozt (Had your father been here, he would have never permitted such a thing!) is a reaffirmation employing the subjunctive that your father would not have let such behavior occur.

Fahrlozzen zich (rely). Although fahrlozzen can stand alone and serve as a synonym to oppgehlozt, fahrlozzen can also appear in the reflexive, as in “let yourself.” Doo kennst zich fahrlozzen oif meer (You can rely on me) is a reassurance that the person with whom you are speaking can let himself have confidence in you.

Tzehlozt (spoiled). Although my mother never completed high school, she was at times a shtickel philosopher. Much like Socrates, my mother saw the upcoming generation as one that let personal responsibility go awry thereby seeing itself as an entitled generation. My mother explained this narcissistic attitude by saying Ess iz zay tzoo goot (They have it too good). My mother could simply have said Zay zynen azoy tzehlozt (They are so spoiled).

Tzoogehlozt (complaisant). Unlike its homophone “complacent,” complaisant means when human nature lets one be “obliging” or “agreeable.” Relationships are dependent on whether one or both in that relationship possesses a personality that is tzoogehlozt. A pithy shpreechvort (aphorism) would be “Tzehlozteh keender are a nightmare; tzoogehloztheh keender are a dream.”

Oppgehlozt, dehrlozt, fahrlozzen zich, tzehlozt and tzoogehlozt are five examples where the word loz morphs into a different word. Incidentally, I was just informed that Mel Brooks took umbrage at being identified as an Apache or Cherokee chieftain. He has always insisted that he was a chieftain from the Shmohawk tribe.


Rabbi Shawn Zell has recently returned to New Jersey, after serving at a pulpit in Dallas. He holds certification in teaching Yiddish. Rabbi Zell is the author of three books.

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