Kinanhora and the Internet:
Warding off the Evil Eye


      Our Jewish forebears were a rather superstitious lot. They got the notion that an evil eye roved around the world, seeking all things wholesome and good, in order to maliciously spoil them. Amulets were worn to ward it off--e.g. the upraised hand with an eye (a good eye) in its palm, the "Chamsa" of our cousins the Arabs who harbored similar beliefs.

      Because of the evil eye, people were reluctant to praise anything, lest its attention be attracted. To any words which could have such effect, they immediately appended "Kinenhora" to stop the evil eye (and sometimes also spitting to the side for emphasis). It is really is a contraction of three Yiddish words. "Kein" in German means "no" (as in "we have no bananas today") or "without," becoming "Kin" in Yiddish. And "en hora" is the Yiddish form of the Hebrew "Eyn Hara" --"Eyn" is "eye of" and "Hara" means "of evil." Thus a kind neighbor might lean over a crib and say "A beautiful baby you have, Kinenhora," or someone may tell "I am 65 but still feel great, Kinenhora."

      Ours is the age of the internet, but the evil eye still roves around, reading web sites (maybe even this one) and "harvesting" internet addresses. Owners of such addresses may become targets of unsolicited ads, erotic material and increasingly, malicious computer viruses.

      This non-kosher affliction is known as "spam," and I want no part of it. Yet I also want to stay open to incoming messages from users! Hence I decided to ban from my files the "at" symbol used by internet addresses (in Israel it is called "strudel" [pron. shtroodl] from its resemblance to the cross section of apple-strudel cake; for other languages, see here) which apparently is the target of robotic sniffers. My address, from now on, is david("at" symbol) I am pretty sure that legitimate users, like you, will translate that properly. Please pass the word!

David P. Stern


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Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
     Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol) .

Last updated 4 July 2002