Learn to chant the Torah

bdlerner at JTSA.EDU bdlerner at JTSA.EDU
Sun Sep 13 21:05:35 EDT 1998

Dear Jonathan,

I appreciate the referral to this site, and if it checks out as you
describe, then I am sure some of my congregation will really appreciate
your "heads-up."

I would like to suggest that you reconsider the use of the words "goy
ear."  What began in Biblical hebrew as a word meaning a nation (I'm
leaving out the development/evolution of the term) became unfortunately
over the course of time and painful events in Jewish history a pejorative
term, used mostly in Yiddish.

Whenever I hear the word used this way - and I sort of "hear" when I
"read" - I am embarrassed, and if a Jew uses it I am offended at the
thoughtless insensitivity to the feelings of non-Jews/Gentiles/Christians
or whomever.

I'm on a one-man campaign to drop from usage forever the use of "goy,"
"shaygetz," and "shicksa." They are inappropriate, if not plain offensive,
as a noun or an adjective - or any other creative application.

Don't demean yourself. If you are Jewish, it's insulting to describe an
uneducated ear as "goy ear."  If you are not Jewish, it's unnecessary and
adds nothing helpful to our "conversation," unless you are indicating that
you are not Jewish.  By the way, the vast majority of Bar and Bat Mitzvah
young people chant their Haftarah/Prophets portion from memory and rarely
learn the "cantillation" or trope signs. I am very hope that others are
joing me and many of my colleagues in requring our students to learn the
trope and thus acquire a skill, not just a performance.

Hope this is helpful, and if I have overstepped the boundaries on this
list to you or anyone else, please forgive me.


Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner       Study: 609-822-7116
Congregation Beth Judah      Fax:   609-822-4654
700 North Strathmore Avenue
Ventnor, New Jersey 08406-1028

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