Youssef Matta

atzei chayim

atzei chayim pl. n. Hebrew (ah-TSAY khigh-YEEM) Literally, “trees of life.” The poles to which a Torah scroll is attached. The ends of the poles, which are generally made of wood or ivory, protrude to serve as handles for lifting and carrying the Torah and rolling it to the next section of text. plural noun …

atzei chayim Read More »

atarah

atarah n. Hebrew (ah-tah-RAH) The decorative neckband sewn to the top of a tallit. It indicates the way a tallit should be draped over the shoulders. The atarah may be elaborately embroidered and may include the Hebrew blessing that is recited when putting on a tallit. When a man is buried in his tallit, the …

atarah Read More »

Ashrei

Ashrei n. Hebrew (OSH-ray) Literally, “happy are they.” A responsive prayer recited during daily and Shabbat services. It includes language from three psalms; its theme is God’s concern for humankind. The prayer is an acrostic; each line begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet except for the letter nun. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, …

Ashrei Read More »

Ashkenazim

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 …

Ashkenazim Read More »

Asher

Asher The eighth son of Jacob and the second son of Zilpah, who was Jacob’s concubine and Leah’s handmaid. Asher is also the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, whose members were said to be descended from him. The tribe occupied the northwestern part of Canaan. Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish …

Asher Read More »

Ashamnu

Ashamnu n. Hebrew (ah-SHAHM-noo) Literally, “we have sinned.” A prayer recited on Yom Kippur. It is customary to tap over the heart with the right hand during the prayer. The Ashamnu is in the form of an acrostic, with a sin listed for each letter of the alphabet. For example, “we abuse, we betray, we …

Ashamnu Read More »

Asarah be-Tevet

Asarah be-Tevet n. Hebrew (ah-sah-RAH bih-teh-VET) A minor fast day that falls on the 10th of Tevet. It commemorates the start of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia in 586 b.c.e, which is considered the beginning of the destruction of the First Temple. On minor fast days, fasting begins at dawn and …

Asarah be-Tevet Read More »

Aron Kodesh

Aron Kodesh n. Hebrew (ah-ROAN CO-desh) Literally, “Holy Ark.” See ark. noun 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 …

Aron Kodesh Read More »

Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant n. English According to Exodus, the ancient chest built by Moses at God’s command to house the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. According to legend, it was a gold box with two large angels on it. After King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the Ark of the Covenant …

Ark of the Covenant Read More »

ark

ark n. English 1. Shorthand for Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh), the cabinet at the front of an Ashkenazic synagogue that houses the Torah scrolls. It is usually set into or against a wall that faces east toward Jerusalem. The ark is sometimes large and ornate, sometimes small and plain. A depiction of the tablets of …

ark Read More »