Jewish Word | Shamash

n the 1946 film The Big Sleep, based on the Raymond Chandler mystery of the same name, Carmen—the promiscuous, drug-addicted younger sister of Lauren Bacall’s character—sizes up Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, and asks him, “What are you, a prizefighter?” Bogart responds, “No, I’m a shamus.” “What’s a shamus?” she inquires. “It’s a private detective,” he answers. Yes, Bogart is using the Yiddish version—more popularly spelled “shammes”—of the Hebrew word, “shamash.”

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Harvey Milk

Book Review | Harvey Milk by Lillian Faderman

Last April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to name the main terminal at San Francisco International Airport after Harvey Milk, the gay rights martyr who was assassinated 40 years ago. The decision further (and literally) cements Milk’s legacy as the best-known LGBT activist in American history.

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