Aramaic n. Aramaic (ar-ah-MAY-ick) An ancient Semitic family of languages with distinct dialects, some of which are still spoken today. Aramaic is written with Hebrew characters. It was the everyday language spoken in ancient times in Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Syria, and by Jews who returned to Palestine after the Babylonian exile (536 b.c.e) until the end of the talmudic period. It is the language of the Talmud; Jewish documents, such as the ketubbah and the get, as well as some important prayers, including the Kaddish and Kol Nidrei, are written in Aramaic.

  1. noun

b.c.e n. English The abbreviation for “Before the Common Era.” When writing the date, Jews often use the religiously neutral b.c.e. in place of b.c. (Before Christ). This is because Jews don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, although they do measure time according to the year of his birth. For example, a Jew might write, “The destruction of the First Temple was in 586 b.c.e.” 586 b.c.e. is identical to 586 b.c.

Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The JPS dictionary of Jewish words. Over 1000 entries for Jewish holidays and life-cycle events, culture, history, the Bible and other sacred texts, and worship. Each entry has a pronunciation guide and is cross-referenced to related terms.; “A JPS desk reference”–cover. (8). Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society.

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