The Jewish Press set off a firestorm last week when it published An Open Letter to Sarah Silverman by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. The Orthodox author criticized the comedian’s politics, vulgar presentation style, and the fact that she remains childless. As a linguist, what I found most interesting about this article was the language. By looking closely at the Hebrew and Yiddish words used by the author and commenters, we can learn a lot about Orthodox Jews in America.
An Orthodox rabbi explains why he performed a ‘commitment ceremony’ for two men. He believes it’s possible to be gay and frum at the same time.
Visitors to San Francisco today would find it hard to believe that there were once three kosher restaurants, four Jewish bakeries, five kosher meat markets, and three Jewish delicatessens in the city. In fact, they were all within a two square-block area known as the Fillmore, once referred to as the Lower East Side of San Francisco.
When I was an 18-year-old yeshiva high school graduate from Brooklyn, one of the biggest questions on the minds of my female friends and me — right after, who will get engaged next? — was, who is going to “frum out” in Israel? You know, it’s what happens during that post-high school yeshiva experience in Israel: the skirts get longer, the bowing gets deeper during prayers, which also increase in frequency. The phrases “Baruch hashem” (thank God) and “bli neder” (no vow) go from a mere drizzle in one’s vocabulary to a full blown hurricane, and obedience to one’s teachers completely overtakes all ability to think independently, express flexibility and demonstrate a sense of humor. Yes, frumming out. I went through a somewhat modified version myself. I spent around 5-6 years wearing floor-sweeping skirts, spent my first four years of marriage wearing a head covering (baruch hashem, that’s over) and for a while actually believed that reward and punishment were readily apparent in everyday life. (A few good terror attacks relieved me of that notion.)