Hi! I don’t know if you already know this and you did it on purpose or something, but I’m from Israel and I speak Hebrew as my first language, and I wanted to let you know that in Hebrew komer/kmarim is specifically only a priest of the christian church, and a priest for every other religion is cohen (male), cohenet (female) and cohanim (plural). If you already know this and did it on purpose it’s fine, but it kind of bothered me because it’s really inaccurate… thank you so much for everything, your writing is really helping me through this tough times!Lail
Having consulted a rabbi, it is actually accurate. Komer/kmarim, or komrim if you are influenced by Aramaic, originates as a word meaning priest of non-Jewish faith. Here are some sources to back it up.
From what we have seen so far, kohen can refer to any sort of priest (whether in service of the One G-d or not), while komer refers specifically to idolatrous priests. (Interestingly, a letter from the Elephantine Papyri distinguishes between Jewish priests who are called kohanim, and Egyptian priests who are called komrim.)https://ohr.edu/8659
Indeed, the word komer also appears in the Bible and suggests this very meaning: the Bible reports that when King Josiah cleaned up his predecessor’s idolatry, he “fired” all the komrim from their idolatrous positions, helped them repent and decreed that all the kohanim (i.e. descendants of Aharon) who had been previously been komrim for idolatry were banned from serving in the Temple in Jerusalem (II Kgs. 23:5-9, with Radak).
This word predates Christianity.
Yosef implemented a flat tax on the Egyptians and exempted the Komrim – the Priests. The reason for this exemption was because when Yosef’s master’s wife accused him of molesting her, the Komrim investigated and concluded that Yosef was clear of any wrongdoing. Thus they spared Yosef from death. Yosef never forgot their impartiality and honesty, and many years later, he repaid them by exempting them from tax.http://www.jhconnection.com/book_archives/jhcsitedoc_196.htm
However, in modern times, where priests of other religions have become a bit more scarce, it has gained association with Christianity. Komrim/kmarim came to signify Christian priests and galokhim became associated with monks of eastern religions, although Yiddish dictionary translates both as non-Jewish priest.*
This is one of those cases where we are right, but it’s not worth it to explain it to every single well-meaning person trying to correct it. We would be swimming against the current of the modern usage. I foresee a flood of emails over komrim/kmarim spelling and another advising us that these are Christian priests.
It’s like trying to tell a Russian that bogatyr is not a Russian word. It’s not. It comes from Mongolian baghatur meaning “hero.” Thanks, Genghis Khan. The outrage will flow and no amount of historical Google linking to Mongolian sources will convince them otherwise.
We will likely switch to a made up word. It’s easier that way. Making stuff up is always easier than researching it, and while this was a very fitting nod to the historical roots and conflict of Judaism with Moloch worship, it will have to go.
UPDATE: Do not be mean to Hebrew speakers! They are trying to help and save us from embarrassment later. Their help is very much appreciated.