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Jewish License Plates

Lawrence Bush
April 24, 2017

On this date in 1901, New York became the first state in the U.S. to require license plates on motor vehicles, simply the owner’s initials on a homemade plate. Two years later, official numbers were assigned, and in 1910, the state began issuing the plates rather than requiring drivers to make them. Vanity plates have been available since 1977. Among Jewish vanity plates spotted around the country by the San Diego Jewish World are: A MENTSH (spelled various ways); MAZL TOV (spelled various ways); AHBGZND (a bi gezund, as long as you’re healthy); BSHALOM (in peace); BUBULAH (bobele, sweetheart); BUBBE (in many variations); CHACHMA (khokhme, wisdom); CHAVER1 (khaver 1, comrade 1); EEMAH (ima, mother); FRELACH (freylakh, joyous); HENANI (hineni, here I am); KADIMA (forward); KHUTZPA (khutspe, nerviness); LCHAIM (l’khayim, to life); MAPETOM (slang: you’ve got to be kidding); MITZVAH (mitsve, commandment, often with various numerals); NACHAS (nakhes, prideful joy); GINJEET (slang: redhead); ZAIDE (zeyde, grandpa); YIKHES (distinguished ancestry); and YOFI 1 (pretty one) -- and many others.

“Out of the 9.3 million personalized plates on the roads of America, about one in 10 are in Virginia, according to rankings provided to The Associated Press by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. That’s 16 percent of the plates issued by Virginia. New Hampshire came in second with nearly 14 percent. Illinois had about 13.4 percent, but that amounted to nearly 1.3 million plates, the most of any state.” --Associated Press

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.