Sunday, August 24, 2008

Linguistic discovery reveals root of name Boro Park

By Rabbi Lamech Somayach
Mashgiach Ruchini, Yeshiva Aishes Eish HaTorah
Special to

Residents of a Hassidic neighborhood are threatening another riot over an academic paper recently released that gained new insights into the Hassidic language that reflected badly on their community. It has many people asking if the Hassidim really are Jackasses or what is in a name.

The paper was written by Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguistic genuis and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It portends to reveal an anomaly in Yiddish, the language of Hassidic Boro Park. Yiddish, which is German for Jewish, is a combination of many languages with Hebrew. Originally it was German and Hebrew and was meant for German Jews living in New York. In Spain the Jews combined Hebrew with Spanish, in Ukraine with Russian and so forth. In the US it is now combined with English.

“You may notice that in South Brooklyn the Hasidim live in a neighborhood called Boro Park. However the rest of New York uses the Latin spelling for neighborhood, Borough. This is in the English tradition,” Chomsky said in his book.

Boro is not a Yiddish translation of Latin for neighborhood,” Chomsky said. “Instead, it is Spanish, burro is the Spanish word for Jackass. He said there was some certainty the name was connected both to the Spanish speaking community that lives in the top of Boro Park, near 39th Street, but added it probably had something to do with the Hassidim all selling their houses in Crown Heights for a song and then blowing outrageous amounts to move into an industrial area simply because it had permissive zoning.

The move started with Lubavitchers in Crown Heights insisting their rabbi would never die and instead would be the messiah. The flow of people moving out of Crown Heights peaked once Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Chabad rebbe died and riots began breaking out.

To give away a $2 million house for $400,000 and then spend another million building an ugly three family monstrosity in the industrial waste part of town could be considered the epitome of being a donkey, according to real estate broker Channy “Hunny” Fleishmon.

“These critics don’t know what they are talking about. I lost a $1,500 Town car in those riots, it was a good investment to move to a safer area,” Said Moshe Stanislov of Boro Park. “The name is unfortunate but seems to have stuck.”