Jewish summer camps use gender-neutral forms of Hebrew

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Seven Jewish summer camps across America are rolling out the new form of language which is completely gender-neutral. All seven sites across North America will use the form, which includes words like “chanichol”, which is a gender neutral form of the Hebrew word “chanich” for boys or “chanichah” for girls.

Traditionally, there is no gender-neutral form of Hebrew and nouns are divided into genders, much like many other languages like Spanish, French and Russian. Hebrew is more of a challenge than most gendered languages because you cannot speak in the first or second person, without indicating a gender. For example, the English phrase “I want a drink” would be literally translated into Hebrew as “I female-want a female-drink”.

“It really reinforces the impact of summer camp as a safe space,” Sara Zebovitz, the North America director for Habonim Dror told the Washington Post. “Camp has always made it okay to say, ‘I can be myself here.’” The new form of Hebrew also includes cheers of each child’s age, typically heard in group settings.
As opposed to the masculine noun ending im, or feminine noun ending ot, groups of boys and girls end with the blended ending imot. An example is the 15-year-old age group formerly Bogrim will now be the Bogrimot. The 80 campers will learn the new form of Hebrew which, according to Zebovitz, came up at a conference of Jewish camps. Out of the other 50 camps, Zebovitz, none had thought to update the language to be more trans-inclusive.

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