Friday, June 20, 2008

The hoopoe: In Hebrew Duchifat, In Arabic Hud Hud

The idea that birds can be emissaries to a battered world like the dove and raven sent out by Noah motivated Israel’s decision to adopt a national bird as part of its commemoration of 60 years of statehood. In Hebrew the name of the bird is duchifat. In Arabic it is hud hud. And in English hoopoe is a word that sounds, as Emily Dickinson noted about all feathered creatures, strangely like hope.
The news was announced at the official residence of the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, who in the late 1940s changed his name from Persky to Peres because he saw a giant lammergeier, or bearded vulture (in Hebrew, a “peres”), circling overhead. Legend has it that the lammergeier, which no longer breeds in Israel, killed the Greek tragedian Aeschylus by dropping a tortoise on his head. Birds can be dangerous, which is precisely why the United States chose the bald eagle, though Benjamin Franklin complained, in a letter to his daughter, that the eagle was a cowardly bully while the turkey was nobler and feistier and therefore a more apt symbol for America.(read more...) via Forward

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