Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not Homey, Haimish

My family got a big kick out of David Brooks' Op-Ed piece regarding the appeals of haimish. 

If dating websites had a sub-category for "heimish," maybe I would go on them. The only way my people categorize themselves is as "heimish." 

Being heimish myself (at least, I think I am) I would just like to request that if one says "haimish," it is properly pronounced as "hi-mish," not "hay-mish." 

Whenever I hear "hay-mish" my teeth are set on edge. Because saying "hay-mish" is obviously not "hi-mish." 

But I digress. As Brooks says:
Often, as we spend more on something, what we gain in privacy and elegance we lose in spontaneous sociability.
I once visited a university that had a large, lavishly financed Hillel House to serve as a Jewish center on campus. But the students told me they preferred the Chabad House nearby, which was run by the orthodox Lubavitchers. At the Chabad house, the sofas were tattered and the rooms cramped, but, the students said, it was more haimish.
He continues that more expensive surroundings remove human contact. Money = privacy. Privacy = no camaraderie.  He recommends to spend less on traveling accommodations to ensure meeting new people. 

Heimishe havara, anyone? 

10 comments:

iTripped said...

I'm still confused by the word "heimish" - shadchanim use it all the time, yet they each have different ideas of what it actually means. Based on Brooks' definition, heimish has little to do with someone's level of frumkeit so it's strange that people use it in that context.

Mystery Woman said...

There's 2 separate things. There's haimish (pronounced hay-mish), which would be the tattered couches and the homey atmosphere, and then there's heimish (pronounced hi-mish), which is what would be on the dating websites or what the shadchanim would be referring to. Two completely different things.

The Professor said...

I agree with Mystery Woman. Haymish is homey, and heimish is like the havarah. {I love the heimishe havara. Although im lubavitch, I went to a heimishe school for a number of years, and therefore have the havarah :) }

Princess Lea said...

Prof: Lubavitch Yiddish sounds like nothing I have heard before. While I only know a few words, my "hu"s are pronounced as "he"s.

Princess Lea said...

iTripped: Any sort of classification, in my view, doesn't have to do with frumkeit; to be frum means to be an observant Jew, and the depth of that religiosity is a personal and private thing.

Someone Chassidish isn't more frum than me, nor is someone modern orthodox less frum than me. We are all frum. Heimish is just a label.

The Professor said...

I learned to speak yiddish in a heimishe school. I later on adjusted it to "lubavitcher yiddish", but can still speak a perfect heimishe one :)

iTripped said...

Mystery Woman: Haimish/Heimish - the two are used interchangeably, whether or not it is correct. That's why I get frustrated, because the people asking don't know the difference. How are you supposed to give an answer if you don't know what the question is?


Princess Leah: I understand that heimish is just a label, which is why I'm tired of hearing it used incorrectly. Honestly, what do people mean when they list heimish/haimish as a choice for how "religious" you are? I don't like classification either, but unfortunately it's something that gets bandied around in shidduchim. Which is why it gets very confusing, because to some heimish is an indication of how religious you are, and to others it's a description of your background/personality.

Princess Lea said...

For me, it is definitely background/ personality/ outlook, not about religiosity. In the end, frum is frum, no matter what the label. For dating purposes, I find that I have more in common with guys who share my background, and sometimes a Yiddish word or two will slip into my conversation (despite the fact that I am not fluent) and it's nice when the guy knows what I mean.

lawschooldrunk said...

In my experience, Heimish usually means messy/slovenly/unrefined/wouldn't-know-Emily-Post-from-a-hole-in-the-wall.

No thanks.

Tough, I have never heard it used to represent a religious level.

I must elaborate, that a frum jew is not merely observant (which connotes a de minimis level), but is ALL-observant of the entire written and oral torah. Meaning, if you "keep" shabbos but consciously and willingly text on shabbos when you know it's wrong, or you wear a black hat but are consciously and intentionally not shomer ne'giya when you know it's prohibited, I would not consider you frum. (But, if it's something for which you have regret after a momentary slip-up, i.e. the classic example of loshon harah that we know is wrong but may temporarily commit and later regret, that's another thing.)

As to throwing in a Yiddish word or two into conversation, it's a crutch for not using the specific English word for which your looking. Moreover, it's irksome when the other party does not understand the word. (Yes, I understand the usual Yiddish words, but it's nice when my date sticks to straight-up English.) Rather, play it safe and stick to the main language of the land. I don't think people would enjoy it if I added a Latin word or two into my conversation sometimes.

Princess Lea said...

LSD: I agree with you that frum means observant. I do not consider someone with a black hat and roaming hands frum. That is why labels like "ultra-orthodox" have no place among observant Jews, because either one is religious or not.

Duh, of course I don't use Yiddish on my dates unless I know the guy shares the same background (heimishe) as I do. I'm not even fluent! But some phrases don't have English equivalents, and a stray word or two will leach into conversation.