Badkhn – Yiddish

Badkhn (or badchen or badchan) refers to Jewish jesters whose role seems to encompass the fool spectrum from village to itinerant to court, including wedding entertainers. Amos Goldberg says they shared the court jester’s licence to mock and ‘mercilessly criticize prominent figures and institutions’. 

They feature as a subset of the general class of ‘merry-makers’, delightfully rendered in Yiddish as freilikh-makhers

See Joseph Roth on these East European badkhn bums, and meet one of the most poignant of them all.

And note the bibliographic entry for Amos Goldberg’s paper.


Source: Goldberg, Amos, ‘A Fool or a Prophet: Rubinstein the Warsaw Ghetto Jester’, The 2019 J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Annual Lecture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 13 March 2019, p. 2-3



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