Putting On The Shvitz

As the weather turns cooler, we should be done with shvitzing for at least six months – give or take, depending on where we live and what climate change has in store for us this upcoming year. But then again, just because we won’t be literally shvitzing, we can’t be guaranteed that we won’t encounter any annoying shvitzers boasting about this or that supposedly great thing they have done or acquired.

So, why exactly do I have shvitzing on my mind? Because in the course of just a few days, I learned about two different videos about shvitzing. The first, simply called, The Shvitz, is a 1993 documentary by Jonathan Berman about the last American shvitzes, or steam baths, and their sweaty Eastern European origins. The DVD of the film came out about four years ago and a trailer for it can be seen on Amazon.

And the other is a little gem available for view on YouTube. Who wouldn’t want to shvitz – in Yiddish, no less – while doing a geriatric exercise routine? As you will see, shvitzing – and Yiddish – is not just for fitness-conscious bubbes. Young women in leotards and young men in tiny shorts are doing it too.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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