How Do You Say “Wonder Woman” in Hebrew?

With the release of multiple movies featuring the superhero Wonder Woman, the Israeli press has changed the way it translates her name. Naomi Sokoloff comments:

Wonder Woman, on Israeli TV, was known as “Eyshet Ḥayil.” That’s a delightfully apt and inexact translation which draws on a phrase from the Bible. . . . In Proverbs 31, eyshet ḥayil is often translated as “a woman of valor.” However, the root that gives rise to the word ḥayil can refer to valor (in the sense of courage), valiance (in the sense of determination and heroism), or force, particularly military force (hence the implications of boldness, daring, audacity, and strength), as well as virtue (meaning decency, honor, goodness). . . . Since this text is traditionally sung or recited in Jewish households on Friday night (by the man of the house, to honor his wife), eyshet ḥayil inevitably carries connotations of piety and religious observance.

The discrepancy between that image and the image of a scantily clad Amazonian superhero makes for comic discordance. . . . No wonder, then, that the recent Hollywood Wonder Woman films starring the Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot are often referred to in the Israeli press as “Vunder Voman.” The transliteration from English helps the pop-culture icon make sense in a Hebrew-speaking milieu. . . .

Yet the option remains of going with what makes sense within Hebrew tradition, and simply enjoying the surplus of meaning that the phrase eyshet ḥayil generates. . . . Part of the power of modern spoken Hebrew—even in its everyday, most ordinary routines and in the setting of popular culture—is that it can spark a cluster of associations. It negotiates constantly between past and present, religious and secular spheres of meaning, Jewish culture and other influences.  Today’s Hebrew encourages us to reconsider traditional texts, and it offers . . . words and phrases in which meanings collide, compete for attention, recombine, subsume, and reinterpret one another.

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Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Hebrew, Israeli culture, Modern Hebrew

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media