Re: Jewish In-laws #general

Ramon Pop <ramon@...>


Just a few comments on what he told and I'd like to add a few terms.
First of all a mother-in-law appears very strong in the story of Ruth and
there they already used a term that Hebrew speakers still use. A
mother-in-law is a chamah (chet-mem-hey) (there's written in Ruth "chamota",
which means her mother-in-law). A father-in-law is a cham (chet-mem). A
brother-in-law is a Gis (gimel-yud-samech) and a sister-in-law is a Gisa
(gimel-yud-samech-hey). The terms for son-in-law and daughter-in-law are
chatan and kalah.


Ramon Pop, Amsterdam

In a message dated 1/20/2003 11:56:34 PM Eastern Standard Time,
delete_this_to_reply_stacy_harris@... writes:

<< Anyone know if the practice of using the term *in-law* to designate any
relationship created by legal means, such as a 'step' relationship,
extended to Jewish families? >>

==I think the specific use of *in-law* may be unique to the English
language. German (and with it Yiddish) and French have their own very
special terms.

Hebrew has a general term for someone related by marriage. Thus the groom
is the wife's chatan--and he is also the chatan of her parents and of her
parents (he is the gis of her siblings). The bride is the kalah of her
husband--and of his parents, but the gissah of her siblings. The father-
and mother-in-law are the chotan and the chotenet. Actually, chatan
(chusen in Yiddish) is used by everyone when referring to the groom, and
kallah (kalleh in Y) to the bride.

There is a generic word in Hebrew for all to whom one is related by
marriage. They are the mechutanim (mechutan m/sing, mechutenet f/sing).
This is a unique help for Jewish families. When one family talks of *our
mechuttenim* you know they're speaking of the parents of their daughter-
or son-in-law--a relationship that tends to be ignored in many cultures.
The same terms are used in Yiddish (pronunciation varies according to
geographic dialect), but a mother-in-law is called mechutayneste,
brother-in-law is schwieger and sister-in-law is schwegerin.

Michael Bernet, New York

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