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Michael Wex (born September 12, 1954) is a Canadian novelist, playwright, translator, lecturer, performer, and author of books on language and literature.[1] His specialty is Yiddish and his book Born to Kvetch was a surprise bestseller in 2005.[1] Wex lives in Toronto with his wife Marilla and daughter Sabina.[2]

Michael Wex was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to a family of descendants of Rebbes of Ciechanów and Stryków. He has taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan.[3]


  • The Frumkiss Family Business. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-39776-8
  • How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck). Harper, 2009. ISBN 978-0-061-77111-8
  • Just Say Nu: Yiddish for Every Occasion (When English Just Won't Do). New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007. ISBN 0-312-36462-8
  • Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language And Culture in All Its Moods. Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 1, 2005). ISBN 0-312-30741-1
  • Born to Kvetch (Audio CD). ISBN 0-06-113122-9
  • Shlepping the Exile, 1993, ISBN 0-88962-542-5
  • The Adventures of Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist. 2007.
  • Die Abenteuer des Micah Mushmelon, kindlicher Talmudist (dt. von Heiko Lehmann, Wagenbach 2005)
  • Classic Yiddish Stories of S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz. (Michael Wex, translator) 2004. ISBN 0-8156-0760-1
  • The Wishing-Ring by S.Y. Abramovitsh (Michael Wex, translator). 2003. ISBN 0-8156-3035-2
  • God in Paris (performance)
  • Sex in Yiddish (performance)
  • Judenverwolkung, or Meshiekh's Tsaytn (performance)
  • I Just Want to Jewify (The Yiddish Revenge on Wagner) (performance)


  1. ^ a b Summer Yiddish Internship 2008: Yiddish Summer.org
  2. ^ Biography notes from his book covers
  3. ^ "Michael Wex", an interview by Wordsmith.org, December 5, 2005

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wex — Please support Wikipedia.
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73 news items

New York Times
Mon, 26 Sep 2005 17:00:00 -0700

Most children watching "The Three Stooges" didn't realize it, but an understanding of Yiddish was required to get a lot of the jokes. In one episode, when Larry hears that Moe is heading to a hockshop, he says, "While you're there, hock me a tshaynik.

Jewish United Fund

Jewish United Fund
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0800

This is followed by appreciative remarks from Sheldon Harnick (the genius who wrote the lyrics to all the songs in Fiddler on the Roof), as well as Yiddish Theatre star Fyvush Finkel, and Michael Wex (author of the popular book Born to Kvetch: Yiddish ...


Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:04:29 -0800

The experts quoted here range from Stiller and Larry King to deli historians and Canadian writer Michael Wex, who delivers that zinger about “schmaltz.” Watch this movie on an empty stomach and you may not make it to the credits. You'll be craving a ...
Globe and Mail
Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:34:55 -0700

As befitting the debut novel of a foremost, and very funny, authority on Yiddish language and culture, The Frumkiss Family Business is subtitled A Megilla in 14 Chapters. The best known megilla is the Book of Esther, which tells the story of Purim. But ...

East Bay Express

East Bay Express
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:38:41 -0800

Author Michael Wex informs us that "schmaltz is ultimately what determines Jewish food. Poultry fat, the WD-40 of the Jewish kitchen, also the KY Jelly of the Jewish marriage." Ziggy, who started at age eight in his grandfather's New York place ...

The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:56:10 -0700

Michael Wex, the author of the surprise 2005 bestseller Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods, thinks a younger generation of secular Jews is seeking a connection to a culture and time they feel removed from. "The American ...
Huffington Post
Fri, 03 Oct 2014 11:31:47 -0700

... such familiar faces as author Bel Kaufman (Sholem Aleichem's granddaughter), Fyvush Finkel, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and comedian Gilbert Gottfried, this new documentary includes insights about Jewish humor from Michael Wex (author of Born to Kvetch).
New York Times
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:21:21 -0700

In “Born to Kvetch,” Michael Wex argues that “Yiddish started out as German for blasphemers.” Highlighting the subversive intent of Yiddish speakers, he notes that the expression “it didn't climb up and it didn't fly” was a covert refutation of the ...

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