There’s a word for it

There’s a word for it

As I was editing a letter to the editor, I saw that the writer had used the word “haredim” many times – a word that has frequently appeared in the paper this summer in relation to protests over yeshiva budget cuts in Israel and a dispute over segregating a girls’ school.

We don’t italicize foreign words – which mainly means Hebrew and Yiddish words for our paper – because italics are hard to read and certain words appear frequently (witness haredim).

We often define these on first reference, but wonder if that is really necessary for a commonly used word – for example, olim (immigrants). So I am thinking of creating a kind of “wordbook” on this site providing definitions of such words.

Of course, that does not solve the problem of “haredim” (lexicographically, anyway). We used to define them as “ultra-Orthodox,” but people who were Orthodox in other ways objected. Then we used “ultra-observant,” but people who were observant in their own way objected. (You get the drift.) In recent years we used “fervently Orthodox,” but that seems like a clumsy combination of English words, so lately we’ve resorted to, simply, haredim.

We could also call them fundamentalists, right-wing religionists, etc.

Any nominations?