JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Letter Y in Polish #general

Judith Romney Wegner

At 12:04 AM +0000 9/13/06, Alexander Sharon wrote:

Stary Zakon means literally the Old Testament and derived >from this word is
"starozakonny", the follower of the Old Testament (the "Old testamenter"),
which is a Jew.

The polite "Starozakonny" term has replaced temporary not so polite term
'Zyd' when Poland lost its independence at the end of 18th century and
needed badly any friend they can get in their struggle for the freedom.
This use of a more "polite" term brings to mind the "polite" use of
"Israelite" -- particularly in France but also sometimes in England
-- to avoid using the word Jew, which in Christian minds was far more
offensive. After all, no Christian wanted to be a Jew, but many
have tried to prove their descent >from one of the tribes of "Israel."
-- including members of the "British Israelite" movement around 1900.

In 19th-century England, Jews were sometimes described as "Englishmen
of the Mosaic persuasion. The word "Israelite" was considered far more acceptable
because less offensive) than "Jew" for much the same reason as American Reform
Jews called their synagogues Temples. The biblical Israelites (or "Children of
Israel") who worshipped in a Temple were far more acceptable in Christian eyes
than the post-biblical "Jews" who worshipped in synagogues.

Exactly the same distinction appears also in the Qur'an. Careful analysis
reveals that it makes a distinction between the "Bani Isra'il" of biblical
times and the "Yahud" of Muhammad's own day -- and speaks far more harshly
of the latter than of the former!

Judith Romney Wegner.

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