Ashkenazim pl. n. Hebrew (osh-keh-NAH-zeem) The name given to the group of Jews who were originally from Germany and France (and their descendants). The word Ashkenaz is the Hebrew name for Germany. The Ashkenazim migrated to Central and Eastern Europe during times of oppression. In pre-World War II Europe, Ashkenazim comprised 90 percent of world Jewry. Although millions were killed in the Holocaust, the Ashkenazim still greatly outnumber the Sephardim, the other large group of diaspora Jews. The majority of American Jews are Ashkenazim.

The holiday customs, liturgy, pronunciation of Hebrew, and cuisine of the Ashkenazim distinguish them from the Sephardim. For example, Ashkenazim spoke Yiddish as their everyday language, while Sephardim spoke Judeo-Spanish. Ashkenazim generally don’t eat rice and legumes on Pesach, while Sephardim do. While Ashkenazim name their children in memory of a deceased relative, Sephardim name their children in honor of a living relative. adj. Ashkenazic.

  1. plural noun

adj. adjective

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. (9). Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society.

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