Philologos


A Honeymoon of Jewish Study

By Philologos

An upcoming Talmudic study period is described as a “bridal month,” or a honeymoon with the Torah. Our language columnist, Philologos, explains.Read More


Did Moses Have a Speech Impediment?

By Philologos

Was Moses a stutterer or was he simply unable to make certain sounds? Philologos investigates the Biblical clues to his ‘heavy toungue.’Read More


Sorry Can Be the Hardest Word

By Philologos

Turkey wants Israel to apologize for its handling of the 2010 Gaza flotilla. Philologos asks whether their understanding of the word apology may be getting in the way.Read More


Unpacking 'Umgepotch' A Word for Sloppy

By Philologos

Our language columnist answers a reader who wants to know the nuance of ‘potchkie’ — a slap, a dawdle or a waste of time.Read More


Was Amy Winehouse 'A Nice Jewish Girl'?

By Philologos

Is it a cliche to call Amy Winehouse a ‘nice Jewish girl’? No, says Philologos, who argues that the term actually has a special meaning imported from the Yiddish word sheyne.Read More


At the Heart of Self-Hatred

By Philologos

Richard Falk isn’t a self-hating Jew, he is a self-lover of the I’m-not-one-of-you variety, argues Philologos. If you can think of a catchier term, let him know.Read More


Legend of Moses’ Death Sets the Example for an Easy Exit

By Philologos

God took the soul of a reluctant Moses with a kiss. To this day, Hebrew speakers say someone who has died at a ripe old age, without suffering, has had a mitat neshika.Read More


Doubling Dutch

By Philologos

The widespread integration of Yiddish words (especially those related to the world of petty crime) into the Dutch language is the subject of this week’s language column.Read More


Wimpels Made Simple

By Philologos

Medieval Jews wrapped baby boys in ornate Torah ties called wimpels after circumcision, a long-lost tradition that Philologos explains.Read More


Walk Softly and Carry a Big Shtick

By Philologos

The vice president recently used the word “shtick” incorrectly. Philologos wonders if we should be sad that Yiddish words are slipping from our grasp.Read More





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  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • 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
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