For all its foibles, the Internet sure does have some gems to offer. So when a friend sent me a link to a clip she thought I’d enjoy, I was dumbfounded and thrilled to discover that someone took the time to dub scenes from iconic Hollywood movies in Yiddish.
It’s pretty funny to watch Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski utter his eternal line, “The dude abides,” in Yiddish. (I wish they had done John Goodman’s Jewishly iconic “I don’t roll on Shabbos,” but then again, maybe that’s low-hanging fruit.) When, at the opening of the video, Gandalf bellows his famous edict, its translation into Ashkenazi Jewish language/mameloshn has the effect of making the grey-bearded Lord of the Rings wizard seem like an angry rabbi. Doc speaking Yiddish in Back to the Future is the eccentric Jewish grandpa you never knew you needed. The famous fake-orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally may be one of the video’s best: listening to Meg Ryan moaning “in Yiddish,” sounding more like she’s complaining than climaxing, is straight out of a bad joke about baleboste Jewish women in bed. And the scene’s setting in Katz’s Delicatessen makes the Yiddish seem as natural as pastrami on rye.
We’ve heard from this video’s creators, Jamie Elman and Eli Batalian, before. The two nice Canadian Jewish boys are the creators of the webseries YidLife Crisis. And this past holiday season, clad in garish Hanukkah sweaters, they brought us Judaized spoof versions of Christmas songs with ingenious Yiddish-inflected titles like “Yingl Belz,” and even managed to make “Little Drummer Boy(chik)” sound like a nigun. In my humble estimation, the YidLife boys are some of the funniest purveyors of yiddishe pop culture out there—not that they have much competition.
Related: Where Did Yiddish Come From?