“Man-oh-Manischewitz!” is one of the standard catchphrases in the Webner household. It’s an all-purpose comment that may properly be used in a variety of situations to convey surprise, delight, or satisfaction, or even as a deft substitute for a minor obscenity. (Another oft-heard statement in Webner House is “one man’s family,” usually muttered with a sad shake of the head and heartfelt sigh while looking at a mess created by the dogs.)
Every successful relationship or team has these kinds of verbal stand-by references, whether they be secret nicknames, punchlines from old, long-forgotten jokes, a lyric from a song that was popular during college, or the tag line for ancient TV commercials about really tooth-curlingly sweet kosher wine. You could reasonably argue that such utterances are, in fact, part of the reason why the team or relationship is successful in the first place.
These comfortable catchphrases usually provoke an inner, if not outer, smile among the members of the circle. They reflect a deep and lasting familiarity and tradition that makes people feel special. Often they have been used for so long that the first relevant use of the phrase has been lost in the mists of time — although in our case we can reasonably guess that one of us blurted out “man-oh-Manischewitz!” after taking a good slug of an adult beverage that unfortunately turned out to be too strong, too sweet, or otherwise unpotable, everyone laughed, and it became memorialized in the family lexicon.
“Man-oh-Manischewitz!” is a pretty good catchphrase that has come in handy over the years, and it’s also part of a very interesting story with an Ohio connection. If you’re looking to develop your own family traditions, I commend it to your attention.