Folk speech

“Be a mensch!”

The informant details what the meaning of the Jewish word of Yiddish origins “mensch” means.  He explains that he believes he first heard this word from his mother.  He remembers her always telling him to do good deeds and treat people fairly in order to be a mensch.  His mom always told him to be a mensch when he was older.  A mensch is a Yiddish word for an overall good person.  The person who is a mensch is usually Jewish, but not required.  A mensch is an individual who has a positive impact on those around him and acts justly.

I find the word mensch interesting, as it is a word that has been passed down from generation to generation in Jewish families, but is hardly known by most Americans.  The word holds special value for Jewish families, as it is a goal that people strive towards.

This word is found commonly in other published works.  For example, Paul Krugman’s article in the New York Times titled, “Bruce Bartlett is a Mensch,” discusses how Bartlett’s actions make him a mensch.  The article was published November 27, 2012.

See citation: Krugman, Paul. “Bruce Bartlett Is a Mensch.” New York Times. N.p., 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

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