A footnote to the exhibition “Shalom Sisters*! – Jewish Feminist Positions”

In 1927-1930, a unique work was published in Berlin: “Jüdisches Lexikon. Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch des jüdischen Wissens in vier Bänden” (~ Jewish dictionary. An Encyclopedic Handbook of Jewish Knowledge in Four Volumes.) More than 300 Jewish scholars and writers had participated in the creation of this German-language reference work, “which provides generally understandable information on all the more important objects, problems and persons of past and present Jewish life on a scientific basis,” as the editors, Georg Herlitz and Bruno Kirschner wrote in the first volume of the encyclopedia.

The project was to be different from general encyclopedias or scientific works. It should make the results of the science of Judaism accessible to a broad public – in German. For this reason, one chapter of the introduction is dedicated to the “transcription”, i.e. the translation of the Hebrew script into Latin letters. The editors decided to take into account both the South German and North German pronunciations of Hebrew, as well as to choose a transliteration that would make it easier for an audience not familiar with the language to pronounce Hebrew terms correctly.

In column 142 of the fourth volume, published in 1930, there is the entry on “Schalom,” “the greeting generally used in modern Hebrew (…) as such also used esp. in Palestine and by Zionists.”

We do not always adhere to the transcription of the “Jewish Dictionary”, but much is still valid today. Therefore, in memory of Jewish science, which was wiped out in the Shoah only a few years after the publication of the “Jewish Dictionary”, and in memory of the fact that this was a German science, we write “Schalom”.

Barbara Staudinger

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