In his March 1 letter, in response to a February 22 letter by Paul Jeser, Eric Weis writes that the Yiddish word shviger is “a derogatory Yiddish expression for a hypercritical mother-in-law.” Actually, the word shviger means simply “mother-in-law.” One can be a gute shviger (kind mother-in-law) or a beyze shviger (mean mother-in-law), but the fact remains that the word shviger itself is neutral. It’s sad and unfortunate that Jewish women in our culture are frequently (and, yes, misogynistically) described in negative terms, whether it’s the materialistic Jewish-American princess, the nagging and guilt-laying Jewish mother, or the hypercritical Jewish mother-in-law. But we should be careful to observe the linguistic distinction between the actual meaning of a word and how some would read into it.

In short, I’m proud to be called a shviger!