Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Schvitz as a verb means to sweat and as a noun means a sauna. I also found the word durchshvitz (/doorkh*shvitz/), which means to persevere. I am reminded of a couple of stories.

When I was a little kid, I would, after trying something once or twice, exclaim loudly, “I can’t!” My mother would sternly say to me, “Can’t is a curse word. Rephrase your sentence.” I thought I could get around this by saying, “cannot,” but alas this is not what she meant. If “can’t” is not an option, then there is only “can!” She would guide me in restating my sentence, “I can…” and encourage me to find a way to persevere.


One of the most important schvitz-making projects of our lives is the journey to be more of ourselves. A story about a rabbi famously known as Reb Zusya talks about how he said, “In the coming world they will not ask me, “Why were you not Moses?” They will ask me, “Why were you not Zusya?”

Schvitz to be you. The world will be a far better place with all your durchshvitz to improve yourself.


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Maayan Zik, is an Orthodox Jewish Jamaican-American social activist. She has co-founded organizations such as Ker a Velt and Kamochah, which further her work in social justice and racial equity.
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