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Hebrew word of the week: Lehitgarmen

Lehitgarmen: To feel at home in (the new) Germany
[additional-authors]
November 24, 2015

Many Israelis live in Germany these days, mostly in Berlin, and feel quite at home, it seems. Modern Hebrew has developed similar verbs for other national conversions, or acquiring a new nationality, such as: hit’amreq, “to become Americanized (in habits, behavior)”; hit’anglez, “to become English (British) as a result of living in England and adopting British manners.”

Even those who stay in Israel may be transformed from one ethnic identity to another: hit’ashknez, “(for Sephardim, especially rabbis, who) behave and dress like Ashkenazi”; and vice versa (less common): histafred, “to behave like Sephardim, especially speaking Hebrew with Sephardic-Mizrahi features.”

In a way, these are a continuation of earlier terms for conversions from one religion to another: hityahed, “to embrace Judaism, pose as a Jew” (Esther 8:17); hitgayyer, “to convert to Judaism”; hitnatser, “to convert to Christianity”; hit’aslem, “to convert to Islam.” 

*Here is one example in context: hispaqti lehitgarmen be-berlin, “I managed to feel at home in Berlin.”

Yona Sabar is a professor of Hebrew and Aramaic in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at UCLA.

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