Philologos


The Jews of Old-Time Medina

By Philologos

Nathan P. Baker of Walnut Creek, Calif., has a query about the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia, the second-holiest site of Islam after Mecca. “I was quite surprised,” he writes, “to learn that it was a Jewish city, called Yathrib, long before the time of Muhammad. Could you furnish me, please, with the dates, the number of Jews in…Read More


Gallantly Grammatical

By Philologos

A promise is a promise. I ended last week’s column with the pledge to tell you why the Hebrew phrase ma’asei merkavah, “the doings of the chariot,” is sometimes humorously applied by political commentators in Israel to the process of forming coalition governments, such as the one just put together by Prime Minister Sharon, and I’ll stick…Read More


Car Talk: Hybrids Rule

By Philologos

Ze’ev Orzech writes from Corvallis, Ore: I just read your column on the Swahili mistake of taking the syllable “ki” of kitabu [the Swahili word for “book,” from Arabic kitab] for a prefix. I had the opposite experience in Jerusalem some years ago. I had put my car in a garage to have various things fixed and one item on the…Read More


Two Cheers for Daled

By Philologos

Forward reader Michael Katz writes: In a recent piece of yours, you referred to the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet as daled. I believe that the correct spelling is dalet, with the Hebrew letter tav as the word’s last consonant. I wonder why it is that Ashkenazim, who traditionally pronounce the final tav of all Hebrew words as an “s”…Read More


An Omission, Not a Sin

By Philologos

Readers Roslyn Weiss, Menachem Kellner, Peretz Rodman, Martin Jaffee, Jacob Haberman, Gil Student and Michael Bohnen have written in about my January 17 column “Faithful or Fraudulent” — in which, analyzing the Mishna in Sanhedrin containing the statement, “Whoever saves a single Jewish life [nefesh mi-yisra’el] is said by Scripture to…Read More


The Word in the Stone

By Philologos

Many of you have read by now of the “Jehoash inscription,” the black stone tablet with an ancient Hebrew text allegedly found by Palestinian workers while digging on the Temple Mount and purportedly dating to the reign of the Judean king Jehoash in the ninth century BCE. If this inscription is authentic, it would be a sensational find, for…Read More


Suffixgate

By Philologos

‘Kerngate: Body blow, not knockout,” said a front-page headline in the January 10 Jerusalem Post in an allusion to allegations of financial impropriety made against Prime Minister Sharon and his two sons in connection with money received by them from Anglo-Jewish businessman Cyril Kern.Read More


Faithful or Fraudulent?

By Philologos

‘Celui qui sauve une vie, sauve l’humanité entierè” (“Whoever saves a life, saves all of humanity”) is the headline of an interview with the son of Wladyslaw Szpilman, the prototype of the hero of the movie “The Pianist,” in the December 19 issue of the French Jewish weekly Tribune Juive.Read More


Christmas Punning

By Philologos

We’re already into the new year, but in this column it’s still Christmas. Our discussion of nitl two weeks ago needs to be continued.In the first place, two readers, Mark Friedman and Harvey Gertel, have written in to help explain the traditional Eastern European Jewish custom, referred to by me, of playing cards on Christmas Eve.Read More


It's a Crime

By Philologos

Bill Gladstone writes from Toronto: At last summer’s Jewish genealogy conference in Toronto, I was intrigued when one speaker, Yale Reisner, mentioned that certain Hebrew words had crept into the Polish language in pre-war Poland.Read More





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