Capitol Alert

From shlock to shpilkes, Yiddish for legislators

In this photo taken Thursday, April 20, 2015, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, left, talks with Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.
In this photo taken Thursday, April 20, 2015, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, left, talks with Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. AP

As Sen. Bob Hertzberg presented a bill dealing with sale or lease of public property on the Senate floor Monday, he referred to the “shpilkes” experienced by local officials when the state abolished their redevelopment programs a few years ago.

It’s a Yiddish word meaning “restlessness” and continued Hertzberg’s practice of dropping Yiddish words and phrases into his public utterances. And if his colleagues don’t know what they mean, the Los Angeles Democrat refers them to the “Yiddish for legislators” booklet that he distributes.

It contains some of the more commonly used Yiddish expressions, as well as some of the more obscure, and offers ways they can be used in politics.

One example: “You can’t pass off that schlock (a shoddy or fake item) as reasoned legislation.”

Another: “If we’re going to get all of these bills passed before next year, we’d better stop kibitzing (talking aimlessly) and get to work.”

After Hertzberg used “shpilkes” on Monday, his press aide, Andrew LaMar, distributed copies of the booklet to Capitol reporters. They quickly learned, however, that “shpilkes” isn’t in the book.

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