September 26, 2005

Hefker Velt (הפקר וועלט)

Jonathan Rosenblum writes an interesting article about schools in Israel, which he claims are terrible. (My personal impression of Israeli schools is quite good, but I come from the US, which is not known for its good schools.) Luckily, in Israel there is some school choice - not as official policy, but as a side effect of Israel's tolerance for diversity. The article describes one of its results. 

One of the expressions used in the article is 'hefker velt', which it translates as 'a world in which anything goes'. This is somewhat impressionistic translation, it being out of place in the article to translate it more precisely. So I will do it here: It is a Yiddish expression, 'velt' means (and is transparently cognate to) English 'world'. 'Hefker' is from Hebrew hefqer (הפקר), and it doesn't have a one-word translation into English, though it is a common word in Hebrew. Something that is hefqer is not owned by anyone. For example shetah hefqer (שטח הפקר) means no-man's land (more literally: no-man's territory). When broken windows are not fixed, it gives a feeling of hefqerut (הפקרות) - hefqer-ness, a feeling that nobody's in charge, that anything goes.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at September 26, 2005 08:25 PM | TrackBacks
Comments & Trackbacks

How about 'desolation'?

Posted by: Melnorme at September 28, 2005 11:33 PM Permalink

The link above no longer works. If you can find the article elsewhere could you email me the link?


Posted by: John J Ray at October 22, 2005 09:48 AM Permalink

John Ray found the link. It's here.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at October 23, 2005 02:18 PM Permalink

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