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In 2004, the stoic, cowboy-esque Clint Eastwood unexpectedly proved himself more Tevye the Dairyman than Dirty Harry. In response to a reporter’s question about the chances of his movie, Mystic River, winning the Best Picture Oscar, Eastwood cried, “Kinehora!” He explained that it was a Jewish expression used to ward off a jinx, one of countless protective folk actions intended to avoid, fool or attack evil spirits.
The term haredi comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to tremble” (hared) and a verse in Isaiah, in which God says, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at my word.” “Haredi really means those who are in awe, or who tremble or quake,” says Samuel Heilman, professor of sociology at Queens College of the City University of New York.