Feature Article

How Did Yiddish Words Make Their Way into German?

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 7:00am
Philologos for Mosaic

A centuries-old tale of complicated, ambivalent, and, sometimes, covertly intimate relationships between a largely anti-Semitic Christian society and its Jewish minority.
Mysteriously, a newly published book was delivered to me by courier mail the other day with no indication of who sent it. Written by the German linguist Christoph Gutknecht, it’s entitled Gauner, Grosskotz, Kesse Lola: Deutsch-Jiddische Wortgeschichten (“Gauner, Grosskotz, Kesse Lola: German-Yiddish Word Histories”), and in it are over 60 entertaining mini-essays by the author about West European Yiddish-derived words in the German language and the complex stories of what happened to them there. (West European Yiddish, substantially different from the more familiar East European dialects that developed from it, was once spoken by Jews in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and elsewhere.)

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The Jewish Connection to Jerusalem

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 7:00am
Remembering Jerusalem permeates Jewish belief, thought, and practice in profound and powerful ways.
By Rabbi Ed Snitkoff for MyJewishLearning.com   

With the sound of shattering glass at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, generations of Jews were reminded that Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people were in exile. With this ritual the vow recorded in book of Psalms was actualized: “If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy” (Psalm 137).

While we are overjoyed for the couple, at the same time, we remember that this small shattering glass is filled with sad memories mixed with hopeful dreams.

Yehuda Amichai, a well-known Israeli poet, wrote about remembering Jerusalem in a collection called “Songs of Zion the Beautiful“:

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The Mendacious Maps of Palestinian “Loss”

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 7:00am
Shany Mor for The Tower

Anti-Israel activists often use doctored maps to show Israel’s supposed malfeasance over the past century. Such claims are made by people who, in the best case, have no knowledge of the facts, and in the worst case, have no moral compass.

You can’t walk very far on an American or European university campus these days without encountering some version of the “Palestinian Land Loss” maps. This series of four—occasionally five—maps purports to show how rapacious Zionists have steadily encroached upon Palestinian land. Postcards of it can be purchased for distribution, and it has featured in paid advertisements on the sides of buses in Vancouver as well as train stations in New York. Anti-Israel bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Juan Cole have both posted versions of it, and it occasionally creeps into supposedly reputable media sources, like Al Jazeera English.

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The Hebrew Revival Was No Miracle

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 7:00am
Dara Horn for Mosaic
It took tremendous toil to produce the cultural rebirth of the Hebrew language. Let us give thanks to the toilers—and to their master translator.
For whom does Hillel Halkin toil?

After reading his magnificent essay in Mosaic on the life and work of Yehudah Leib Gordon, the preeminent Hebrew poet of the 19th-century Jewish enlightenment, I had the same thought I’ve had over and over again since I was a teenager: unending gratitude that someone out there has done the world a favor by opening up the genizah of Hebrew literature and curating its treasures. As usual, that someone is Hillel Halkin.

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