Friday, February 5, 2010

Mi Zeh? Mi Zeh?

Rabbi Robert Loewy with his Saints jersey (Photo by Judy Bottoni/AP)

Leave it to a rabbi to come up with a Hebrew translation of "Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who Dat?" Rabbi Robert Loewy of Gates of Prayer Synagogue in Metairie came up with the full expression "Mi Zeh? Mi Zeh? Mi Zeh Omer Yach-vosh et Ha-tsa-dikim? Mi Zeh?" sometime before the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. I take an advanced adult Jewish education course from Loewy on a weekly basis, so I learned of his translation just after the last game the Saints played. He said he worked to try to come up with the right words that would suffice. One of the major stumbling blocks is that the concept of a "saint" is foreign to Hebrew. There is a term for being righteous, which is translated variously as tzadik or in the plural tzadikim and the rabbi determined that was probably the best word choice. The major problem in getting the phrase out to others is that the Hebrew fonts have to be installed on computers before they'll understand the characters and, as most gradeschoolers know, Hebrew reads from right to left, has no punctuation and, oftentimes, lacks vowels. The English transliteration works well enough and it has established Loewy as a local Saints enthusiast. LIke every other segment in the greater New Orleans community, the Jewish community is very fired up about the Super Bowl game on Sunday. But that won't stop the first of the major parades from rolling tonight. Even the Sunday parade schedule has been bumped up an hour so that fans will be off the streets and inside their homes or favorite lounges by kickoff. Saints fans believe they can win. They know their history and look back only a few years ago when Peyton Manning's little brother Eli and his team, the New York Giants, swept the heavily-favored and undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. That wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. If you can conceive, you can achieve. Down here everybody is waiting with abated breath for the start of the game. Even moreso they are hoping that the end of the game will have the Saints on the winning side of the score. The game plans are done. The players are ready. It's time for some football, Shabbat and Mardi Gras, although not necessarily in that order. Mi Zeh?

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