Jewish Matchmaking Terms: Religiosity, Frum, Shtarker, Heimish

Jewish Matchmaking Terms: Religiosity, Frum, Shtarker, Heimish

Our ongoing list of Jewish terms continues to roll on as more people watch Jewish MatchmakingIn this installment we will be talking about some more slang terms from the show. While previous installments in this list were Hebrew words, this one will focus on the Yiddish slang used. This is only a slice of the way people speak in Fay Brezler and Shay Rosenberg’s Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn. Remember that Yiddish is a mix of Hebrew and German, so it’s a much more informal language. Some words have no direct translation, as we will see. Without any further ado, here is Jewish Matchmaking termsreligiosity, shtarker, heimish. 

Jewish Matchmaking Terms: Frum or Religiosity – Hardcore Judaism

Our first term, religiosity, isn’t even a Yiddish term at all, but an English word that comes close to a Yiddish term. The term is frum, or frumkeit (pronounced “froom” or “froom-kite”). Fay actually uses this word in a different context, but the show doesn’t define it. This is ultimately what led to the breakdown of the relationship between Fay and Shaya. She was more frum than him. Frumkeit refers to the degree to how frum you are. Fay, who wanted to deepen her relationship with Judaism even more, felt that Shaya wasn’t making as much of an effort. Another translation of frum would be “piety” but perhaps the show didn’t want to use this old-fashioned word. Luckily for Shaya, he was able to find someone with a level of religiosity closer to his own, as he is now engaged.

Jewish Matchmaking Terms: Shtarker – A Stark Difference

Shtarker is very similar to the word “stark”, which means clear or obvious in English. But in Yiddish its meaning is closer to the original German, where it means “strong”. It’s an appropriate last name for Iron Man, Tony Stark as Tony is known for being strong and tough. In Yiddish, it could refer to a person’s strength or even desirability. Or, it could be applied sarcastically, to mean a tough guy who isn’t as hard as he pretends to be. We hear Shaya use this as he discusses his feelings with his rabbi. He’s expressing concern that his potential wife at the time, Fay, could be stronger than he is in terms of faith. If Shaya had said this in English, the response from fans would have been fairly different. He could have even ended up as a villain, as he is insecure that a woman could be more religiously observant than him!

Jewish Matchmaking Terms: Heimish: Home Is Where The Heart Is

Our final term for today is heimish, which literally means “home-ish” in Yiddish. When Shaya visits Fay’s house for the first time to meet her mother, he says he feels comfortable in their home. This feeling is what heimish means, a feeling of being at home and safety. When something is heimish is unpretentious, relaxed, and informal. A person can also be heimish as well, and this person would be skilled at making others feel at ease. Unfortunately for Shaya, while he tried to make Fay feel at home on their ice cream date, she was too interested in getting right with the Almighty to relax. But now, apparently Shaya feels heimish in his new situation with his new wife, so maybe Fay was the one who lost out.

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