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Siri Flunks Jewish

Jul 112015
 
 By , July 11, 2015
Siri Flunks Jewish

When it comes to Jewish, Siri often lets me down

I generally have a love affair with Siri. She – as available on my iPhone 5 – gets me. My dictation of emails, texts and notes is almost letter perfect, far quicker and more accurate than my clunky typing on the faux keyboard

… except when I dictate something Jewish. In this esoteric realm – which mixes Yiddish, Hebrew and Jewish-Americanisms – Siri often lets me down. So let me share my top dozen personal examples of how Siri gets an F (at best a D) in Jewish:

  1. When I wanted to warn my kids there might be extra traffic due to “Jews leaving early for Yom Kippur,” Siri cautioned against “juice leaving early for yanqui poor.”
  2. Trying to wish a friend “hearty mazel tov’s,” Siri wished him “hearty muscle dogs.”
  3. Explaining that a friend’s Shiva (Jewish mourning) would take place Monday, Siri politely announced when his “shit but” would be.
  4. When asking if we should go to services for the Simchat Torah holiday, Siri thought I asked about “Simplot Torah.” (She also thought a separate mention of the “Torah” – or Hebrew Bible – was a reference to someone’s “toga.”)
  5. Giving Siri a second chance with Jewish holidays, I watched her render the fall holiday Shavuot, on two successive tries, as “Sure about” and “Should go out.”
  6. When I wanted to say, humorously, that I was so tired I could “plotz” (collapse), Siri – perhaps recalling my resolution to write more – told Debbie I was going to “plots.”
  7. Asking if I should wear a suit on Rosh Hashanah, Siri decided I was talking about the Celtic-Cyrillic beauty, “Russia Shawna.”
  8. Telling Debbie I hoped she’d bake ruggalach (braided cookies) for the holiday, Siri forwarded my request that she bake “Rogalia.”
  9. Asking if I should bring my prayer shawl, which I rendered in the old style as “Tallis,” Siri asked if I should bring my “Tallest.
  10. When asking a friend to borrow his Haggadah as I prepared my Passover seder, Siri asked if I could borrow “the gutters.” (I’m still not sure if she was thinking roofs or bowling.)
  11. Also on Passover, when I texted my children to come downstairs for their mom’s “matzah brei,” Siri summoned them for a “matzah bride” (Jewish version of the Gingerbread Man?).
  12. Finally, curious how Siri would handle the central Jewish prayer, the Shemoneh Esrei (named for its”18” blessings), Siri captured this as the “Shamona x-ray” (how modern shamans view broken bones?).

Can anyone recommend a yeshiva bachur (young Jewish scholar) to tutor Siri? (By the way, she rendered that term in multiple ways, my favorite being “his sheep about whore” – definitely, Siri needs help with Hebrew and Yiddish.)

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Howard Zaharoff

Howard Zaharoff reads (a lot), writes (mostly humor), teaches (occasionally) and practices law (doesn't everyone?). He is the author of "Stump Your Lawyer!" (Chronicle 2007), and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Amazing Stories, Computerworld, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, The Annals of Improbable Research and the books Growing Up Jewish (Penguin 1987) and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and Further Improbabilities) (Workman 1993), among other places.
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