Jew

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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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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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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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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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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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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Akedah

Akedah n. Hebrew (ah-kay-DAH) Literally, “binding.” Specifically, the incident in Genesis when God tells Abraham to bind (tie up) his son Isaac and prepare to sacrifice the boy. At the last moment, God stops Abraham from going through with the deed. Explanations of the Akedah include that God was testing Abraham’s obedience; that it shows …

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