The J List: Joy Behar And Chely Wright Do Yiddish


It was surely one of the oddest venues for a Yiddish lesson.

On Joy Behar’s show last Wednesday night, the Italian host (she would fit Lenny Bruce’s definition of a Jew in a New York minute) was interviewing Chely Wright, the sweet country singer who shocked Nashville earlier that day by coming out as gay. Behar, expressing support and sympathy for Wright, said the singer’s decision was surely provoking some tsuris in her life.

“You know what tsuris is? It’s like aggravation,” Behar said. (By the way, the show’s the very goyishe transcription service rendered the word “surest” on Behar’s website.)

Wright looked a little flustered.

“Is that a Jewish word?” she asked.

“Yes, it’s a Jewish word,” Behar said.

And then, as if to prove her Jewish bona fides to all of her north-of-Nashville country music fans, Wright asked Behar, “Are you a mensch? I think you are a mensch.”

To which the quick-witted Behar retorted, “I’m an Italian mensch.”

Somewhere, Leo Rosten is smiling.

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