Word of the Day Giyus: What Soldiers and Money Have in Common

Israelis find an excuse to party for both definitions of the Hebrew word.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

Thousands of extremist ultra-Orthodox men gathered in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and several other locations last week to demonstrate against a High Court of Justice decision to stop funding the studies of yeshiva students who defer their giyus (ghee-YOOS) and to protest the arrest of one yeshiva student who failed to arrive at the giyus center when he was called up.

Giyus means “recruitment,” “enlistment” or “induction” and is most closely associated with the army, as in terms like lishkat giyus, or military induction center; tzav giyus, or draft notice; and mesibat giyus, the party many Israelis throw just before they join the army for their compulsory service. (Mesibat shihrur is the party on the other end of army service, celebrating one’s shihrur, or release, from the Israel Defense Forces.)

In Hebrew, though, giyus refers not just to recruiting people, be it soldiers, job candidates or supporters of a cause, but also to “recruiting” money (giyus ksafim) – that is, to fund-raising.

Thus, you get headlines using the same word in completely different contexts, like “Let the IDF decide who to legayes” (that’s the infinitive form of giyus) and “Race to Nasdaq: MediWound wants to legayes $100 million.”

As for those parties, you could be invited even if you’re not in the just-graduated-high-school set, as long as someone somewhere thinks you’d make a good donor.

That’s because in addition to the pre-army mesibot giyus, there are also mesibot giyus ksafim, or fund-raising parties. Over the past few years, a school in Re’ut had a giyus ksafim party to raise money for a class trip to Poland, supporters of Merav Michaeli organized at least one such party to solicit donations for her Knesset campaign (it wasn’t for naught; she’s now a Labor Party MK), and the Meir Panim charity held a $25-a-ticket mesibat giyus ksafim to raise money from young Jewish professionals in New York.

Whether Israelis want to raise money for a good cause or raise as much hell as they can before putting on a uniform, it’s time for a giyus party, of one sort or another.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

The Hebrew Word Giyus can mean recruitment or fundraising.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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