Philologos


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


What’s in a (Town’s) Name?

By Philologos

I was browsing the other day in the letters-to-the-editor section of an old issue of a magazine called First Things, an intellectual monthly edited by Richard John Neuhaus, a leading Catholic thinker and strong supporter of Israel. Taking Neuhaus to task for this support was a letter that commented on “the tragedy…Read More


You shall not murder

By Philologos

Professor Berel Lang writes from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.:“Perhaps you would give a couple of paragraphs to the misconception (and the mistranslation) of the Sixth Commandment [in Exodus 20:13], ‘You shall not murder,’ as ‘You shall not kill.’ The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means…Read More


Sephardic Arks

By Philologos

A New York Times article last month about the Jewish community of Istanbul contained a description of its oldest synagogue, the Ahrida, which was untouched by the recent bombings. The synagogue’s “main feature,” the Times observed, “is its teva, or pulpit, which is shaped like an ark. Some people say it was built to commemorate the ships…Read More


Bush Commits Parapraxis

By Philologos

I don’t know if anyone else caught it, but George W. Bush made what was obviously a Freudian slip in his initial appearance last week after the capture of Saddam Hussein. Gazing determinedly into the television cameras, he declared, “I have a message for the American people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.”Read More


Hanukah Gift to My Editors

By Philologos

Should the holiday we are celebrating this week be spelled “Hanukah,” “Chanukah,” “Hanukkah” or “Chanukkah?” You’ll find all four versions in the dictionaries, with “Hanukkah” being the preferred form nowadays.I myself prefer “Hanukah” with a single “k,” but I certainly think that either “Hanukah” or…Read More


Language of Lachish

By Philologos

Sandra Metzger writes to ask:“Would you possibly know of an ancient battle that sounds like ‘Lekesh’ but is spelled differently? I read about it 20 years ago in a book on archaeology and the Bible, which was later stolen in Liverpool, England, when in transport back to America. A hole in my memory prevents me from remembering the spelling to…Read More


Listen to Me a Chess Move?

By Philologos

From Zelde Krulewitz comes a letter asking about the Yiddish expression folg mir a gang. “I would dearly love to know,” she writes, “not only the literal translation of this phrase but its meaning and correct usage — i.e., under what circumstances one would say such a thing.”A literal translation of folg mir a gang (folg mikh a gang inRead More


Money Hole

By Philologos

‘Knesset member Meli Polishuk-Bloch accused officials of the ministry’s Bureau of the Budget of ‘viewing everything through the hole in the grush,’” Ha’aretz reported in a November 18 news item regarding the Israeli Finance Ministry’s decision to scale back a number of projected desalination plants for financial reasons.Read More





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  • 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?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
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