Tuesday, May 16, 2006


It is very common around the Lag B'Omer bonfire to have a sing-along called a kumzits (also spelled kumzitz or kumsitz). As this article describes, kumzits is an unusual word. On the one hand, it is widely known that the origin is from Yiddish for "come [and] sit". However, the word does not appear in Yiddish dictionaries. Why is that?

It turns out that kumzits is a Yiddish word that exists only in Hebrew. It was adopted by the early pioneers in Israel, despite the establishments opposition to use of Yiddish words. Hebrew replacements were suggested such as shevna שבנא - "please sit" and the Talmudic tozig טוזיג. But nothing ever managed to displace kumzits from its place beside the fire.

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