American Jewish Congress (AJC)

American Jewish Congress (AJC) n. English A national volunteer organization, the American Jewish Congress protects fundamental constitutional freedoms by promoting legislation to preserve religious freedom and the separation of church and state. It also litigates cases with significant civil rights or First Amendment issues. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The …

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American Jewish Committee (AJC)

American Jewish Committee (AJC) n. English Established in 1906 in response to hundreds of pogroms in Russia, the American Jewish Committee works to fight anti-Semitism, safeguard principles of democracy, and nurture pluralism and cooperative relationships among diverse ethnic and religious groups. The AJC also publishes Commentary, a journal of political thought. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, …

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American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) n. English A registered political action committee since the 1940s, AIPAC lobbies the United States government on behalf of the State of Israel. AIPAC’s goal is to protect Israel’s interests on issues such as foreign aid, sales of military items, treaties, and such. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & …

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amen

amen int. Hebrew (ah-MEN) Literally, “so be it.” The word said in unison by a congregation in response to a prayer to signify solemn agreement. According to the Talmud, “amen” is an acrostic of the three Hebrew words El Melekh Ne’eman (The Lord is a trustworthy King). It is sometimes pronounced awe-MAIN. int. interjection Eisenberg, …

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alter-kacker

alter-kacker n. Yiddish (AHL-ter COCK-er) A vulgar expression, literally meaning “old shitter”; equivalent to the English expression “old fart.” Used to describe a fussy, crotchety old man, or sometimes a dirty old man. Sometimes abbreviated as “A.K.” Old-fashioned usage. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The JPS dictionary of Jewish words. …

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aliyah

aliyah n. Hebrew (ah-LEE-yah); pl. aliyot (ah-lee-YOTE) Literally, “to go up.” 1. The honor of being called up to the bimah to recite the blessings before and after the Torah reading. The term is often also used for any of the other rituals associated with reading the Torah, including hagbah and gelilah. During a synagogue …

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Al Het

Al Het n. Hebrew (ahl HATE) A Yom Kippur prayer that asks forgiveness for a multitude of sins committed during the previous year. The congregation says the Al Het aloud as well as silently because Jews are responsible not only for themselves but also for their entire community. It is customary for a Jew to …

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Aleinu

Aleinu n. Hebrew (ah-LAY-noo) Literally, “it is upon us.” A prayer in praise of God, Aleinu acknowledges the unique relationship between God and the Jewish people. It is sung toward the end of synagogue services while the congregation stands. Originally from the High Holy Day liturgy, the Aleinu is now part of all services. It’s …

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Aleichem, Sholom

Aleichem, Sholom (SHOH-lum ah-LEH-khem) Pseudonym of Solomon Rabinowitz (1859-1916), perhaps the best-known Yiddish humorist, dramatist, and short-story author. His stories of Jewish shtetl life in Russia—complete with descriptions of eccentric characters, Jewish holiday celebrations, and religious persecution—became known worldwide. Stories featuring one of his most famous characters, Tevye the Dairyman, were the basis for the …

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Alef Bet

Alef Bet n. Hebrew (AH-lef BET) A name for the Hebrew alphabet, formed from its first two letters: alef and bet. Using the term “Alef Bet” is comparable to calling the English alphabet the “ABCs.” The alphabet consists of 22 consonants and five final letters. The 10 vowels in Hebrew, which are indicated by seven …

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