By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 18, 2009

Nudnik is a Yiddish word that has entered modern Hebrew. It describes a common and even respected modus operandi in Israeli society. A nudnik is someone who is constantly asking you for something or otherwise taking up your time.

Israel is a society where protectsia, or who you know, can get you far. Think of it as living with extended family. Of course, it’s ok to ask your cousin’s wife’s uncle who happens to be a big noise in something or other for a helping hand. Nudnicking is just an extension of this view of social networking. If you pester people long enough, you can wear them down, especially if they’re distantly related to you. So for example, at my children’s school in Jerusalem, this time of year, there are parents who phone every day to see if their child has been accepted. Statistical research on the subject hasn’t been done, but it doesn’t need to be. Everyone knows that the nudniks’ children get accepted to school.

According to my investigations, nudnik comes from the Russian nudnyi, which means to bore. In Yiddish the verb is nuden. However, the Hebrew nad refers to movement, and its derivative, nidnud, means a repetitive swinging motion, which describes the behaviour of the nudnik pretty well.

Last updated: 3:11pm, March 18 2009