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This Language Has To Stop

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Last week the New York Jewish Week newspaper ran an otherwise banal article on a new sitcom for Fran Drescher in which the subheading reads, “‘The Nanny’ takes up with a ‘goy toy’ in her new WB series. Oy!”

At JOI we’ve become very sensitive to the use of language that serve to push people away, in particular three Yiddish words: shiksa for non-Jewish woman, shegetz for non-Jewish man, and goy for a non-Jew (or goyim for non-Jews). These words are still in common circulation in the Jewish community, as reflected in our Jewish newspapers, yet shiksa and shegetz are slurs no matter how cute you try to play it (they originate from the Hebrew for “abomination”). And goyim, while originally translated as “[other] nations,” retains a negative connotation. It may be lamentable how few Jews still speak Yiddish, yet why are these the three words we feel such a need to hold on to?

Granted, the Fran Drescher article simply quotes a character on the show who uses the word, but it was a clear choice by the reporter, then by the headline-writer, and then by the editor, to play up that one punch line. JOI advocates for eradicating these offensive words from our vocabulary, especially in our print media.



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