Thursday, December 18, 2003


NEW YORK - "Look, at this. You won’t believe this," the startingly true email began, "if you type in the name "Chaim" into Microsoft Word, you will get the red squiggly line under the name. Which means it is spelled wrong. The reality is that it is the right way to spell "Chaim." We cannot stand idly by. We must react to Microsoft Word’s anti-Semitism."

This email reached Jews all over the world through a successful mass emailing. It was started by Chaim Levine of Brooklyn, New York. "I couldn’t stand constantly seeing that my name is spelled wrong. Who are they to tell me that? I know how to spell my name!" Arye Frankel felt very much the same. "When I saw this email, I knew it was time to react. Not only is my first name supposedly spelled wrong but purportedly, so is my last name. This is an atrocity."

The ADL came out with a statement just the other day recognizing the prejudices of spellcheck. "We spoke with them about Word ’94 but the problem had not been resolved with Word ’98 or Word XP. We have to gather together and stand up against Microsoft Word and their anti-Semitic propaganda. In the meantime, we must return to using pen and paper. We must show them that we do not need a computer to be lawyers, accountants and financial bankers."

When Microsoft was reached for comment, they denied all accusations. "We never intended for any of this. It’s just coincidental that Spell Check picks up on Jewish names. Look, I'm a Christian from Newport, Idaho. I have never heard the name "Yankel" or "Fischel." But er sre resolving my shortcoming. We now have a staff of twelve Hasidic Jews working on the new Microsoft Word to include Jewish names like "Heimy", "Shayndel and “Chezkkie�. Thank you for your patience."

But patience is just what the Jewish people have run out of. "I have written my name over and over again," said an aggrevated Batsheva, " just trying to figure out the right correction. But nothing will appease the unappeasable Spell Check. I try but it does not stop." Some have adapted and changed their lives to fit in with the guidelines of Spell Check. "For years, I was "Akiva" but now, I must hide my Jewish name and go with "Albert." It is a name I can finally spell correctly." Rabbis everywhere fear this is just the beginning. "I have one of my synagogue members who married a non-Jewish lady because he was so embarrassed by his misspelled name. This honestly could be the cause of the next mass assimilation." Incidentally, Rabbi Max Stern is spelled correctly. He does not suffer like the others.

One would think in America, the land of freedom and opportunity, we would not have to worry about these things. One would think that we would not be shunned for the way we spell our name. Our Jewish name, our given name. After all this is America, a name that does not have the stigma of a red squiggly line underneath it.

This has been reporting by Arye Dworken, spelled incorrectly.


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