aravah

aravah n. Hebrew (ah-rah-VAH) pl. n. aravot (ah-rah-VOTE) 1. Willow tree; the branches of the willow that are part of the lulav used on Sukkot. See arba minim. 2. The dry lowland area of the eastern Negev, often called the Aravah Valley. noun plural noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The …

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Aramaic

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 …

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apostate

apostate n. English (ah-POS-tate) A Jew who rejects Judaism for another faith. Jews distinguish apostates from those who were forced to convert. See anusim. Old-fashioned usage. 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 …

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Apocrypha

Apocrypha n. Greek (ah-POCK-rih-fah) A group of 14 religious books that were originally included in the Septuagint, the oldest Greek version of the Old testament. The writings are thought to have been translated by Jewish scholars at the request of Ptolemy II. These books, which the ancient rabbis referred to as sefarim hizonim (extraneous books), …

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apikoros

apikoros n. Yiddish (ah-peh-KAY-riss) A religious heretic or skeptic; one who doesn’t believe. The term was first used in the Mishnah to refer to a Jew who renounced the Torah. Apikoros is a Yiddish variation of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who championed the pursuit of sensual pleasures. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication …

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anusim

anusim pl. n. Hebrew (ah-noo-SEEM) Literally, “compelled ones.” The historical term for Jews who were forced to convert to another religion. The anusim often tried secretly to preserve their Jewish customs and teach them to their children. Perhaps the most famous anusim are the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were compelled to convert to Christianity …

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anti-Semitism

anti-Semitism n. English Prejudice or discrimination against Jews and the Jewish people. This term dates from the 19th century, although anti-Semitism can be traced back to ancient times. adj. anti-Semitic. noun adj. adjective Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The JPS dictionary of Jewish words. Over 1000 entries for Jewish holidays and …

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Antiochus IV, King

Antiochus IV, King (an-TIE-ah-cuss) A Syrian king who ruled Judea and ancient Israel from 175 to 163 b.c.e In his efforts to wipe out Judaism, Antiochus demanded intense Hellenization and forbade many Jewish practices, including circumcision and Sabbath observance. He desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem with animal sacrifices and statues of Greek gods. The Maccabees’ …

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Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL)

Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL) n. English Established in 1913, this division of B’nai B’rith works to combat hate, racism, and anti-Semitism. The ADL fights instances of discrimination against Jews and defends the civil, religious, and educational rights of all citizens. The ADL also works to expose hate groups and racist organizations, such as …

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aninut

aninut n. Hebrew (ah-nee-NOOT) The period of time from the moment of death until burial. Since it is traditional for Jews to be buried within a few days of death, this period lasts for only a few days at most. Because the family’s focus is on caring for the deceased and preparing for the burial, …

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