Philologos


Ghostly

By Philologos

Ira Epstein writes:“In several recent news reports in the English media, the Jerusalem street ‘Emek Refa’im’ was referred to as the ‘Vale of Ghosts’ or ‘Valley of Ghosts.’ While I know that the Hebrew word refa’im in the Bible can be translated as ‘ghosts,’ is there any special significance to the association of ghosts with…Read More


Blood Lines

By Philologos

‘No one,” recently wrote political commentator Yosi Verter in the Hebrew newspaper Ha’aretz, in an article on the attitude of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s fellow Likud politicians to the financial scandals threatening him, “wants to appear to be dancing on the blood.”By “dancing on the blood” — roked al ha-dam — Verter meant…Read More


How Do You Do’s Novels

By Philologos

Help! Now it’s The New York Times. This is from a Times article last week about the new Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”:“‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, is based on ‘Tevye the Milkman,’ a cycle of short stories by Sholem Aleichem published in the Yiddish press…Read More


Mezinke Madness

By Philologos

Seymour Zimilover and Harry Jaglom have related questions. Mr. Zimilover writes:“We often hear the song ‘Di Mezinke Oysgegebn’ played at weddings where the youngest child of the family is being married. What is a ‘mezinke’ and from what language is the word derived?”And from Mr. Jaglom comes the query:“My father, who was born…Read More


You Call That a Man?

By Philologos

Marvin Friedman writes from San Francisco: Your recent column about the expression folg mir a gang reminded me of how my mother used to say, in a tone between contempt and sarcasm, “Oykh mir a mentsh,” which I understood to mean something like, “This is also considered a person?” In turn, this brought me to think about Primo Levi’s…Read More


The Female Divine

By Philologos

Is (the?) Shekhina (Shekinah? Shechinah?) a “she” or an “it”?“The Shekhina is a woman,” Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy is quoted as saying in the latest issue of Moment magazine, in which the article “In Search of Shekhina” deals with Mr. Nimoy’s recently published book of photographs, “Shekhina.”And yet in none of the…Read More


Oy!fruf

By Philologos

Bill Morris writes from San Diego:This last weekend I heard someone talking about an “ufruf” (“oof-roof”). In English contexts, I’ve always seen this word given the German spelling of “aufruf,” which should be pronounced “owf-roof,” while in Yiddish it is spelled sextie`, which should be pronounced “oyf-roof.”Read More


Pome-Grenade

By Philologos

‘A haunting story about love, language, and loss,” the February 9 issue of The Jerusalem Report calls Israeli-born, Canadian-Jewish author Edeet Ravel’s first novel “Ten Thousand Lovers.” Set in an Israel of disillusionment, a land of sadly lapsed ideals, “Ten Thousand Lovers” (Headline, 2003), the magazine informs us, is a…Read More


Bandanarama

By Philologos

The controversial head-scarf and yarmulke ban in French public schools, the January 20 New York Times informs us, has now spread to bandanas and is threatening Sikh turbans. French education minister Luc Ferry, the newspaper wrote, “told the National Assembly’s legal affairs committee that any girl’s bandana that is…Read More


Come ’Round

By Philologos

Ed Rheingold writes from Evanston, Ill.: Your column of December 19 on the transliteration of the Hebrew letter h.et didn’t mention the word “challah,” but it’s another example of a h.et-word commonly spelled with “ch” in English and almost never with just “h.” “Challah bread” is often found in supermarkets…Read More





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