Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yiddish and the Art of Hand-Washing

During our vacation in Lake George, I took this photo above a water fountain at a rest stop in Saratoga Springs. To the uninitiated, it looks as if Yiddish speaking Jews are unaware that hand washing in the water fountain is frowned upon (I say this given the relative length of the Yiddish versus the English text).

Actually, the situation is more complex. Orthodox Jews must ritually wash their hands at certain times, and cannot recite the blessing accompanying it in a bathroom. The Yiddish sign informs the hand washer that there are sinks available for washing away from toilets, freeing up the water fountain for its intended use.

All and all, not what one expects to see in a NYS rest stop. A curious bit of Jewish ritual next to the brochures for the race track and camp sites.

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