NY Daily News: Hamodia ‘Schvartze’ Letter Adds Fuel to Racial Fire


bloomberg-giuliani The Hamodia newspaper headquartered on Foster Avenue in Brooklyn published a letter to the editor that adds fuel to an already racially-charged fire by alleging an ethnic slur was used outside the Bloomberg-Giuliani event in Boro Park yesterday, according to a report by Elizabeth Benjamin of the NY Daily News. According to the author of the letter, who identifies himself only as “Elimelech Freiman” and doesn’t say if he’s in any way connected to a campaign, “pro-Bloomberg activists” were seeking to “disparage candidate (Bill) Thompson by citing his race.”

“One person grabbed by suit collar, and asked me, ‘are you going to vote for a schvartze?'” Freiman writes.

“I think such talk is morally indefensible. This person was by his looks and demeanor obviously not a member of our community. But his free use of this kind of language was certainly based on an assumption that such talk is acceptable and effective when talking to a Chassidic person like me.”

“It is scary to think that a person would assume that such hate talk wouldn’t offend a Chassidic-looking person. When I heard it, that assumption worried me more than the actual offensive language.”

For those who don’t speak Yiddish, “schvartze” is a derogatory term for a black person.

Aside from this disturbing allegation, which, it should be noted, is being made by someone who is obviously pro-Thompson and is not being pegged on anyone directly connected with the Bloomberg campaign, this writer also notes something that perhaps should cause even more concern in the mayor’s camp.

He alleges that there is a consideration amount of “frustration” in the Orthodox community with the Bloomberg administration. That’s worrisome for the mayor, who needs this voting bloc, and also explains Sunday’s big Giuliani-fest.

Click here to view the full letter.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter/NY Daily News}


  1. “Schvartze” is NOT a derogatory term for a black person. It means “black”, plain and simple. If used in an English phrase, it might be derogatory, but in Yiddish it has the exact same connotation as black in English (which can be derogatory though not necessarily so).

  2. We are as guilty as the non whites of using derogatory terms for people of other races. Sometimes it is racist and sometimes it is just insensitive. Not every comment about a minority is meant to be an insult. Jews are hyper-sensitive but some others are at least as over suspicious and see racism where it is not.

  3. ““schvartze” is a derogatory term for a black person.”

    Not true. Why do you repeat that?

    It just means a black person. Maybe you want to ban the name Schwartz, one of the most popular Jewish names, since it means black, as well?

  4. Let’s quit playing games. I’ve lived in New York City and I visit, and I’ve seldom heard “schwartze” used with anything other than a derogatory tone of voice. The generation that literally got off the boat from Europe used “schwartze” without a negative connotation, but those days are long gone.

    Rather than making lame excuses that no one believes, let’s just clean up our speech, stop using derogatory names or nick-names for anybody, and try to bring back some of the eidelkeit that our grandparents knew.

  5. #7, I challenge you to provide any other way to refer to a black person in Yiddish.
    I can think of two, which would definitely be considered derogatory.
    “Shvartsa” would only be considered derogatory by one who already has a personal bias against Blacks. It merely means one who is black.

  6. dudes, chill, yes, #7 we definitely need to be more careful with our language as the gemara in psachim state on page 4 that a person shall always speak in a PURE fashion. And though its true that “shvarts” is not necessarily a derogatory word, it all depends on the way its used, and over here there was no reason to bring it up, so obviously it was derogatory, so dont all go saying “uuuh its not derogatory”. and #9, like, I mean, comm’n!!!

  7. # 11
    That’s one of the 2 words I was thinking of & I definitely think it has a denigrating connotation.
    What do Yiddish Speakers think?


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