Philologos


A Guide for the Judgmental

By Philologos

A reader questions the common translations of a line in ‘The Ethics of the Fathers.’ Philologos says he’s got a point, if you look at the scales of justice.Read More


How To Get a Haircut in Lvov

By Philologos

There are plenty of ways to tell a Jewish boy to get a haircut. In Yiddish, a mom uses three languages to send a mop-haired son to the barber, Philologos writes.Read More


Should Israel Have Gone With Yiddish?

By Philologos

Should Yiddish have been the national language of Israel? Philologos says emphatically ‘no,’ because Hebrew is the eternal language of the Jewish people.Read More


A Political Football

By Philologos

A soccer game and Israel’s national anthem are the subjects of this week’s column.Read More


Deciphering Secrets of the 'Patio Tomb'

By Philologos

Is the newly uncovered tomb in Jerusalem one of the earliest known Christian burial sites? The language used in an inscription offers important clues to Philologos.Read More


Sorcerer for the Goose and Gander

By Philologos

The Yiddish word for witch is a nasty word to use about your mother. It also provides sca-a-a-a-ry case study in the changing face of linguistics for Philologos.Read More


Third Time's L'Chaim

By Philologos

Philologos’ columns on the possible origins of the famed Jewish toast has drawn sacks of mail from linguistically inclined readers. Drink up and read his final verdict!Read More


From Hebrew to... Hebrew

By Philologos

An ancient expression meaning a gazelle’s raised horn was switched to the plain vanilla ‘my strength increased’ in a new translation of the Bible into modern Hebrew.Read More


Cheers! We're Not Poisoned — Or Are We?

By Philologos

Does the famed toast ‘l’chaim’ date back to a Byzantine custom of testing wine for poison? Philologos prefers to believe it evolved from an ancient expression meaning, ‘all right.’Read More


'Yahweh' Should Not Offend Anyone

By Philologos

A reader objects to the word ‘Yahweh,’ which he finds offensive. Philologos says it’s a legitimate Biblical term and no one has to read it if they don’t want to.Read More





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  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
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