Hebrew is the timeless language of the Jewish people. It has been with us since at least the 10th century BCE and continues to be a unifying force for our many communities. However, “timeless” does not mean “unchanging.” Indeed, Biblical Hebrew is about as usable in modern Israel as Shakespearean English is in New York City today!
One part of Hebrew currently undergoing change is how the language expresses gender. Hebrew, unlike English, is strictly gendered and almost every piece of speech is either male or female. Just as in many other similarly split languages, the male form has become the default.
It shouldn’t be surprising that that doesn’t really fly at KI. And, unfortunately, there is no widely agreed upon gender neutral form of Hebrew at the moment. Therefore, we at the religious school have decided to follow the example of feminist, LGBTQ, and other activists in Israel in using a “hybrid” way of addressing mixed-gender groups and speaking in generalities.
“What does that even mean?!” you may be asking yourself right about now. It means that when we talk about the students in our classes, we say “talmidimot” instead of the traditional male-only “talmidim” and our friends go from being “chaverim” to “chaverimot.” Combining the male and female endings shows that we are talking to everyone, not just a bunch of guys.
We hope that by speaking this way we can foster a more inclusive Jewish community here at Kivunim.
.אנחנו מזמינים.ות אתכם.ן להצטרף אלינו
Anachnu mazminimot etchemen lehitztaref eleinu.
We invite you to join us.