Sunday, November 25, 2007


kvell - (Yiddish - kveln - to be delighted, from Middle High German quellen to well, gush, swell)

I've just learned my great-great-grandfather is quoted in a popular work of political non-fiction. I'll probably have to add it to my holiday reading list:
The Greeks had a word for it, it was "hubris." My grandfather, Sam the tailor, also had a word for it, "chutzpah."

- Victor Gold, Invasion of the Party Snatchers, 2007.
This is a paraphrase, as the quote has been relayed to me by a relative who's read the book, but Samuel Newmark was the patriarch of our family that emigrated from Poland to England to the US at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. While I often don't agree with his politics, Victor Gold may be the best known 'Grandson of Sam'. (Probably not the best phrase to use, but irresistible.)

Due to the geographical closeness of Greece and Israel, and due to the similarity in the meanings of the words 'hubris' and 'chutzpah', one does wonder if there is any etymological connection, but I doubt it. Etymology, the genealogy of words, fascinates me as well.

On my mother's side, there's even more to kvell about. I recently found on the internet several photos from a 1971 issue of a popular magazine displaying a distant kin in all sorts of interesting poses. I don't know how we're related, but she has one of my surnames, and there's a good chance we're cousins. (3rd, 4th, maybe even 7th, but cousins.) There's probably an interview with her I can read if I find a copy of the magazine. I'm sure the interview will tell me a lot about my family.

1 comment:

Chris said...

"Interesting poses"? In the interest of genealogy, I must see these photographs.