(JTA) — While the rest of the world is busy exchanging Happy New Year wishes, Germans are greeting each other with a peculiar expression: “guten Rutsch,” which means “good slip.”
Some believe the greeting is a lighthearted reference to the country’s ice-glazed streets, possibly born of superstition similarly to how performers wish each other “Break a leg!” before taking the stage.
But some etymologists and history enthusiasts trace the greeting back to the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, arguing that guten Rutsch is one of hundreds of influences on Germanic languages by Yiddish.
The case for viewing “Rutsch” as a distortion of “Rosh” relies partially on the fact that guten Rutsch dates from about 1900. This fits the Yiddish-origins theory because the late 19th century was a period of relative openness and cross fertilization between Jewish and German cultures .
Even if guten Rutsch didn’t originate from Yiddish, there is little doubt that Germanic languages have seen significant influences from the Jewish lingua franca of Europe prior to the Holocaust.
“I wish you therefore simply a Happy New Year,” wrote German linguist Christoph Gutknecht, who is skeptical of the theory.
Last month, the Neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer called for a “troll storm” against Jews in Whitefish Montana, the hometown of “alt-right” white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. A grassroots campaign against Spencer’s brand of white nationalism had been simmering here for months and recently came to a head.
Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer website, has even called for an armed march. But Anglin’s efforts so far have focused on aggressive trolling, a tactic he has employed before.
Many people are receiving threats, mostly via email. One meme depicted a local realtor being crushed by a steamroller, driven by “alt-right” icon Pepe the Frog. “Go choke on a shotgun and die,” read another message. “You would all be of greater worth to society as human fertilizer than as citizens.”
This trolling from Neo-Nazis, rallying around “alt-right” figurehead Spencer, is the most concerted online effort since the election pushed the “alt-right” into the spotlight.
Their tactics are similar to those of an older generation of white supremacists — but altered for the Twitter era.
“That this site can post this and people are getting hate mail and death threats, it shows you the ability of this movement to mobilize with the digital age,” said Kelly Baker, author of “Gospel According to the Klan.”
The alt-right harnesses “troll culture and call-out culture,” Baker said, in a way that is somewhat similar to the “scare tactics” used by the Klan in the 1920s, such as mounting boycotts against Jewish shop owners or burning crosses on lawns. “They would try and intimidate business owners who didn’t agree with the Klan’s positions.”
And while digital harassment is often been seen as “ephemeral” — threats that pale in comparison to things like marches or demonstrations — online trolling similarly aims to silence criticism.
“The alt-right has been able to mobilize, using things like memes, which people don’t quite take as seriously as they should,” said Baker. “There would be more outrage of they were burning crosses in lawns.”
The Eric Trump Foundation appears to be implicated in a number of irregularities, dealing with conflicts of interest in its payments and patronizing the pet causes of its board members.
According to a report report in the Associated Press, the foundation contracted for services with numerous subsidiaries of the Trump organization, for example hosting benefit events at a Trump golf course. It also had a board stocked with Trump family friends, who the AP said appeared to steer money to their pet causes.
Both of these allegations, if true, would be a violation of Internal Revenue Service rules on charity, which prohibit those who operate charities from making a profit off them. Those regulations also discourage board members and those associated with a charity from steering monies to organizations close or related to them, out of concern over self-dealing.
The Eric Trump Foundation has an annual budget of over $7 million, and donates most of its proceeds to the St. Jude’s Hospital, a charity for kids with cancer. Apparently, several Jewish organizations have benefited from Eric Trump Foundation monies, though. One of the charities was Chai Lifeline, a group that helps sick children and whose chairman, Larry Spiewak, attended Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s wedding. It is not clear what role that connection had in the donation.
Carnegie Deli will serve its last mile-high pastrami sandwich today at midnight, despite a late offer from a former dishwasher to buy the restaurant for $10 million.
Upper West Side restaurateur Sammy Musovic washed dishes for a year at the deli in the 1970s. He said he offered the money to save a landmark “that is as much a part of New York City as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.”
But the proposal fell on deaf ears.
“Carnegie Deli is not for sale and the family is certainly not considering any publicity-inspired offers,” deli spokeswoman Cristyne Nicholas told The New York Daily News.
She said president Marian Harper-Levine wants to keep the deli’s name and associated meat processing plant and bakery running.
Carnegie Deli opened its doors 79 years ago and was once one of several Jewish-owned delis in the theater district. In recent years, most of the other delis has closed, and Carnegie became a tourist favorite for its $20 iconic sandwiches, bursting with stacks of pastrami and corned beef.
After the New York flagship closes, there will still be outposts in Las Vegas and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Ahmed Khalifa is winning recognition from the community after helping chase down a homeless man who slapped an Orthodox Jewish woman in the face on December 27.
“It was a very hard slap, I almost could feel the slap. He was 6-foot-6, and a very big, big guy,” said the 17-year-old Muslim high school student, in describing the incident, in which homeless man Rayvon Jones hit the woman while she sat on the Q train, according to the New York Daily News.
Khalifa held the doors open when the train arrived at the next stop and shouted for the conductor, as the woman was injured, with a gash on her mouth and broken glasses. He then went in pursuit of Jones, receiving an assist from a local Orthodox man he ran into and the Shomrim, a local patrol run by the Hasidic community whom the two called.
“A lady told me to run after the guy,” he said. “It took me a while to catch up. He started sprinting.” Cops nabbed the perp while he tried to get on a bus, and one of the members of the Shomrim drove Khalifa home.
“Some people are like ‘she’s Jewish, why did you help her,’” he told the Daily News, reflecting on the event. “I’m like everyone is equal. I treat everyone the same way.”