Mazel Tov is a Yiddish phrase used by the Jewish people to express compliments, especially in a significant event like a Jewish wedding or Bar Mitzvah. You may have heard a Jewish person using the phrase “Mazel Tov,” and you decide to use it to tell people congratulations. However, there are concerns about whether a non-Jewish person can say “Mazel Tov” or any other Jewish phrase. I have researched and found some insightful information on using the Yiddish language by the non-Jewish people.
So, can you say “Mazel Tov” as a non-Jewish person? Whether a non-Jewish person can say ‘Mazel Tov’ seems to be divided among the Jewish people. Most Jewish say it is not okay to say “Mazel Tov” if you are not a Jewish person, while some do not see any problem with a non-Jewish person saying “Mazel Tov.” The general rule is that, if it feels uncomfortable for you to say “Mazel Tov,” then you should probably trust your instinct and not say it.
Read on to find out why people seem to be divided on whether non-Jewish people can use Yiddish phrases and words in their vocabulary.
Can a non-Jewish person say Mazel Tov?
The Jewish people have a word for a non-Jewish person; it is known as “Goy” and “Goyim” for plural. “Goyim” is a Jewish word that refers to non-Jewish people. It is not a surprise that some Jewish people will have concerns with Goyim using their Yiddish phrases in a conversation. The biggest concern is why a non-Jewish person finds it necessary to use Yiddish phrases to use English phrases.
For example, a non-Jewish person can simply say congratulations to another person instead of saying Mazel Tov and still get the message home. Maybe the Jewish phrase sounds funny to them, and them saying it to other people, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, is a way of being funny. It is not only Mazel Tov that sounds funny. Some non-Jewish people may prefer to say “bupkis” instead of “nothing” to sound funny.
Mazel Tov has managed to enter into the vocabulary of non-Jewish in the last few years. It has become common to hear a non-Jewish person say Mazel Tov to another person to congratulate them. Sometimes the situation does not even require one to say Mazel Tov, but since a non-Jewish person may not know when to use, they say it to the disagreement of the Jewish people around them.
However, most non-Jewish people don’t know how to correctly pronounce the phrase, making it a bit awkward or annoying when said in front of a Jewish population.
Instances When a Non-Jewish Person Can’t Say “Mazel Tov”
The general consensus is that a non-Jewish person cannot say “Mazel Tov.” Those who believe that non-Jewish people cannot say Yiddish phrases have stated various reasons to support their stand. These reasons include;
Yiddish Words Sound Funny To You
Some of the Yiddish phrases and words have different pronunciations as compared to other languages. When a non-Jewish person hears these phrases for the first time, they start using them in their conversations as a way of being funny.
The Jewish people are proud of their language and using some of its words to sound funny is stripping the meaning and importance of the Yiddish phrases and words. In some cases, a Jew may get offended if you make fun of their language.
Importance of the Yiddish Language
A lot of Jewish people view the Yiddish language as a significant part of their history. The Yiddish language was once among the dominant languages in Europe before the horrifying events that saw the massacre of millions of Jewish people, with most of them being Yiddish speakers.
Hence, non-Jewish people saying “Mazel Tov” at any time they feel without knowing how vital the Yiddish language is to the Jewish people comes off as disrespectful.
Stereotyping Jewish People
When a non-Jewish person says, “Mazel Tov,” it is most likely seen as a way of spicing up their vocabulary. It may be intentional or not, but some Jewish people feel that they are being mocked whenever a non-Jewish person says, “Mazel Tov.” Their pronunciation of the phrase may be wrong; hence, Jewish people may think that the non-Jewish people are making fun of the way they speak.
Preservation of the Yiddish Language
The Yiddish language has been in existence for a long time, and Jewish people are proud of it as a big part of their culture. Speaking Yiddish is very important to a Jewish person; hence, the need to protect it from individuals who do not care about it.
When non-Jewish people say “Mazel Tov,” quite often, it is a way of enhancing their vocabulary. They do not care about the entire Yiddish language. Preventing non-Jewish people from saying “Mazel Tov” will ensure that only those interested in the Yiddish language can speak, hence preserving the language.
Instances When a Non-Jewish Person Can Say “Mazel Tov”
Some Jewish people support non-Jewish people saying, “Mazel Tov.” They do not see any problem when a non-Jewish person says “Mazel Tov” to them. They also have reasons to support their stance, which include;
Communicating with Jewish People
It is okay for a non-Jewish person to say “Mazel Tov” when congratulating a Jewish person. A Jewish person will understand why they have been told “Mazel Tov,” and if it is used in an inappropriate manner, they can correct them. So, when a non-Jewish person has been invited to a Jewish celebration like a Bar Mitzvah, they are free to say “Mazel Tov” to the young man celebrating that critical event.
Jewish people have no problem with non-Jewish people learning Yiddish. The proper way of learning Yiddish is to do it in an academic setting. In this manner, a non-Jewish person can learn both the Yiddish language and the history of Jewish people.
Learning Yiddish will help preserve the language as well as translating old Yiddish literature and texts as well as holding the occasional conversation with a Jewish neighbor in Yiddish.
Knowing When to Say “Mazel Tov”
For some Jewish people, it is all about timing when a non-Jewish person says, “Mazel Tov.” It may be the right way of congratulating an individual for their achievements, but sometimes it is important to know when to say it.
For example, at a Jewish wedding, after breaking the glass, the people at the wedding usually shout “Mazel Tov” to the bride and the groom. However, it will not be appropriate for a person to walk up to the bride and tell her “Mazel Tov” because it may come off as saying congratulations for landing a husband.
The world keeps changing, and due to globalization, many languages and cultures are in danger of fading because of lack of use. A few people can speak fluent Yiddish, and many Jewish people want to preserve their language. If more people show genuine reasons to learn Yiddish, then it will not be a big issue non-Jewish people saying “Mazel Tov” and other Yiddish phrases and words.
For non-Jewish people, it is essential to know precisely when to say “Mazel Tov.” It should not be thrown around in any conversation without giving enough consideration. Most of the Yiddish phrases and words used by a non-Jewish person have well known English versions. For example, “tukhus” is commonly used by non-Jewish people in place of “buttocks.” These words are essential and not funny. So, a non-Jewish should avoid using Yiddish words where there are English words that they can use.