Torah

avodah

avodah n. Hebrew (ah-voh-DAH) Literally, “Divine service.” In the Pirke Avot, it is written that the world stands on three pillars: Torah; gemilut hasadim, acts of kindness toward our fellow man; and avodah, service and worship of God. 2. Avodah A unique part of the Musaf service on Yom Kippur, the Avodah prayers describe the …

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aufruf

aufruf n. Yiddish (AUF-ruff) Literally, “calling up.” A congregation’s public acknowledgment and blessing of a marriage. In many congregations, both the bride and groom are called up to the bimah either to read from the Torah or to recite the blessings before and after the reading. In Orthodox congregations, only the groom is called up …

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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 …

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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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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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am ha-eretz

am ha-eretz n. Hebrew (am hah-ARE-etz) Literally “people of the land.” A derogatory term, which originated during the time of the Second Temple, for the common people who were neither learned in Torah nor religiously pious. The opposite of haver. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, E., & Jewish Publication Society. (2001). The JPS dictionary of Jewish …

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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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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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Aish HaTorah

Aish HaTorah n. Hebrew (AYSH HAH-toe-RAH) Literally, “fire of the Torah.” Jewish outreach organization founded in Jerusalem in 1974 by Rabbi Noah Weinberg to stem Jewish assimilation and help Jews rediscover the relevance of Judaism in contemporary life. The international network now has 25 Jewish educational centers and provides creative programming in over 80 cities. …

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