THE QUESTION OF THE NAME "JEW"
IN UKRAINIAN: "ZHID", OR "YEVREY"?
In every conversation with Jews in the Ukrainian language, I first clarified the issue of what is the correct name of Jews in Ukrainian: "Zhid" (jew) or "Yevrey" (Hebrew), especially when dealing with the new immigrants from the U.S.S.R. The problem is that in Russian the name "Yevrey" is acceptable, while "Zhid" carries a connotation of national insult and degradation. The Russians in occupied Ukraine assaulted the Ukrainian language with just such an approach. This is why the Jewish immigrants from the U.S.S.R. use the name "Yevrey" in the Ukrainian language as well, and quite a few Ukrainians are following their example in accepting this definition of the terms "Zhid" and "Yevrey". However, this approach is erroneous. "Yevrey" (Hebrew) is Russian. In the Ukrainian languages, as in other Slavic languages, since earliest times, the name "Zhid" (Jew) has been used, which was introduced to the Slavic countries from France and Germany by the Jews themselves. Neither the French with their "Juif" nor the Germans with their "Jude" regard it as an insult, and it does not occur to either the French or German, nor Polish or Czech Jews to change it to the Russian "Yevrey". So why corrupt the Ukrainian language with the Russianism of "Yevrey"? All the more because, by the "Jewish" language, Ukrainians have "Yiddish" in mind, which developed from German; and by the "Hebrew" language they mean that language spoken by Jews in ancient times, and today, in Israel. Even the English use "Jew" and not "Hebrew".
Ukrainian writers and historians clearly state that in Kiev during the principality of Rus', there was a "Jewish", not "Hebrew", district, and "Jewish", not "Hebrew" city gates.
Only in the translation of the Holy Writ is the name "Yevrey" - "Hebrew" used.
In the Ukrainian translation of the Scriptures, the name "Yevrey" is used to stress that it concerns Biblical times.
This is why, in my writings and conversations, I constantly employ the Ukrainian usage, from time immemorial of "Zhid" for "Jew", and not the Russian "Yevrey".