Bible

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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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arba kosot

arba kosot n. Hebrew (ar-BAH co-SOTE) Literally, “four cups.” It is traditional to drink four cups of wine during the seder on Pesach. The four cups of wine mirror the four ways that God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, as written in Exodus 6:6-7: “I will free you from the labors of the …

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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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