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Yiddish with Dick and Jane
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  See Dick, Jane and Sally Today - Oy Vey!

Title: Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Author: Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman

Publisher: Little, Brown; (September 2004)

Genre: Humor/Parody

ISBN: 0316159727

Hardcover: 104 pages

Rating: Recommended


September 14, 2004

See Dick.  See Jane.  See Sally.  See Dick , Jane and Sally in an off-the-wall  primer where they speak phrases such as, “He is a goniff!  Someone ought to give him a zetz in the schnoz.”


Oy vey!  What has happened to Dick, Jane and Sally since we last saw them? They now speak Yiddish?! Jane is married to Bob and they have two children who are very well-behaved: “Kina-hora.”  Jane works in real estate. Dick is a businessman who likes to “schmooze” on the golf course to drum up business. He is married to Mary and they also have two children. Sally now lives in Berkeley where she teaches “Transgressive Feminist Ceramics.” 


In this alternate universe to the Dick and Jane primers of our childhood, we see a married woman having an affair with her husband’s friend. We see her husband in a lip lock with Jane’s male boss. When Dick, Jane and Sally’s mother is recovering from a small stroke which has left her slightly “farblondget,” Sally comes to visit. When her mother compliments her on her looks, a “zaftig” Sally protests and rails at her mother about the fact that her mother did nothing to help her get ready for the real world. Her mother tells her that she prepared her to live in the world that she lived in. And that is the heart and soul of this book - the Dick, Jane and Sally who we grew up with were part of the perfect world that was portrayed in both print and on television where everyone was happy, there were simple solutions to all problems, and no dangers lurked outside anyone’s door.  There was a very strong disconnect with reality, but in the 50’s and early 60’s, not many people seemed to mind. Now, Dick, Jane and Sally live in the modern  world, but Sally is the only one who is aware of how much things have changed and that there was never such a thing as a perfect world. 


Yiddish with Dick and Jane is probably not for everyone. But for those who enjoy a good parody, it is also a fun and painless way to learn some Yiddish. There is a glossary in the back to help the Yiddish-deficient keep up with the story. The incongruity of Dick, Jane and Sally speaking Yiddish is amusing. The illustrations are right on the mark, capturing the idealized world of the Dick and Jane primers, in strong contrast to the skewed, Yiddish-speaking universe of the modern Dick and Jane.


 Reviewed by Nancy Machlis Rechtman