I grew up with a specific sort of Jewish aesthetic, and I suspect many of us did. There was some Zionist fine art you could count on -- in my house, it was a print of Salvador Dali's "Aliyah - The Rebirth of Israel" painting. Most of my friend's parents had something by Yaacov Agam, the Israeli op artist. Some had Marc Chagall prints, or similar, but it was all very modern and very tasteful.
I'm not that. I'm pretty sure that the "Dress British" part of the equation in my blog title referenced Brooks Brothers-style suits, and yet here I sit wearing a grey newsboy cap, a herringbone vest, and bright red jeans, like Ron Campbell has drawn me into the "Yellow Submarine" movie. My tastes tend toward the loud and the fun, and so, when I am looking to buy something Jewish, I turn to Etsy, where you can find a menorah built on top of a T. Rex.
It occurs to me that if you are planning on going a little Yiddish, as I have, you're going to want it to affect your design sensibilities. It is not enough to spend an hour a day memorizing flashcards. One must also be ready to redecorate. It's not enough to practice conversational Yiddish aloud. One must also be ready to revisit one's wardrobe, which is certainly insufficiently Yiddish.
So occasionally I will do a roundup of my favorite Yiddish items from Web. And we'll begin, as we must, with Etsy.
As you probably know, a yenta is a busybody or a gossip, based on a character from the Yiddish stage. I don't know precisely who this wine glass is for, but I can't help but imagine a Jewish Auntie Mame-type, or Ruth Gordon from "Rosemary's Baby," wandering around in leopard prints, slightly tipsy, occasionally declaring how much she loves her yenta juice.
I generally don't like people very much. This is someone I could love.
The Yiddish is a little off here -- "afen" and "yam" should be two words. But so what, when you can have a lovely cross stitching of the Yiddish idiom "Go shit on the sea"? It's just what is needed to make a house a heim, and a slightly rude heim at that.
I don't know what to say. I just find these pretty.
This is an Etsy phenomenon -- art that you just download, print up, and frame on your own. I rather like this example. Firstly, it's a great Yiddish phrase: Der shlof is der bester doktor, or "sleep is the best doctor." Heck, it could just read Der shlof is der bester and I would agree, because sleep really is the best.
The graphic is adorable too. I just can't stand it. I want to put one above my dog's bed, because he really likes to sleep, and he is likewise adorable. This is how I make interior design decisions, and I refuse to apologize for it.
I can't approve of this sort of ironic use of Yiddish, this appropriation of gansta themes coupled with inappropriate Yiddish. Approximately, the t-shirt says "hos and thugs," and I can't approve, as I said. I really can't.
I can't bring myself to disapprove either, though.
These are the most tasteful thing I am going to recommend today, and I crave a pair with the letters mem and shin, for the letters of my name, or the letters tav and yud, for trakht and Yiddish, or "think Yiddish." These are custom made, so you can select whatever letters suit you best.
Now I just need to get some shirts that require cufflinks.