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Glossary

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Abraham Geiger

(1810-1874), German rabbi and scholar and one of the founders of Reform Judaism

Ahad Ha-Am

(1856-1927), pen name for Asher ZH Ginsberg, Hebrew writer and influential Zionist thinker

Apocryphal writings

Books excluded from Jewish canon of Hebrew Bible

Arius (‘Arian Controversy’)

(c.256–336) Christian leader in Alexandria, Egypt. The Arian Controversy involved a conflict over the interpretation of the Trinity, the Christian doctrine of monotheism which unites God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a single deity.

Aryan

Nazi racist definition of people deemed to be superior to ‘non-Aryans’ , i.e. those with Jewish ancestry.

avodah zarah

(Hebrew), lit. ‘foreign worship’, idolatry

Badkhn

(Yiddish), Jewish comedian and satirist, particular at weddings

beth-hamidrash

(Hebrew), lit. “house of learning’, study hall

Bildung

(German), cultivation and realisation of one’s intellectual talents and dispositions

Bund

(Yiddish), short for The General Jewish Labour Bund of Lithuania, Poland and Russia, a secular Jewish socialist party in the Russian Empire, which was active in 1897-1920

Hermann Cohen

(1842-1918), German-Jewish philosopher

Conversos

(Spanish/Portuguese), converts, Jews or Muslims and their descendants who converts to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal during the 14th and 15th centuries, often under duress

Christology

Christian teachings about Jesus Christ and his significance in salvation history

Covenant

The Hebrew Bible refers to a series of covenants God made with the patriarchs of the Jewish people (Genesis 12-17; 27; Deuteronomy 1:7-8). Christians understand the Eucharist as instituting another covenant which either supersedes, parallels, or extends the covenant between God and the Jewish people.

Deicide

The charge that ‘the Jews’ killed Christ

dhimma

Legal contract regulating the residence of Jews and Christians in Islamic law.

Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezhirech

(c. 1710-1772), disciple of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidic Judaism) and his successor who consolidated the Hasidic movement

Eretz Israel

(Hebrew), the Land of Israel

Essenes

A Jewish sect that existed from the 2nd century BCE to the first century CE

Get

(Hebrew), bill of divorce that is given by husband to his wife to make a divorce legally valid

Goy

(Hebrew/Yiddish), non-Jew, gentile

Heinrich Graetz

(1817-1891), pioneering Jewish historian and author of the momentous and highly influential “History of the Jews”

Halakhah

(Hebrew), lit. ‘the way to go’, collective body of Jewish law

Hasid

(Hebrew), ‘pious’, individual known for unusual piety and devotion

Hasidic

(Hebrew), relating to Hasidism, a mystical branch of Orthodox Judaism

Herem

(Hebrew), something that is set apart, excluded, doomed to destruction

R. Hillel

(died 10CE), Jewish leader and scholar who founded a rabbinic tradition

Titus Flavius Josephus

(37-c.100), Roman-Jewish historian, author of the ‘The Jewish War’ and ‘Jewish Antiquities’

Kabbalah

(Hebrew), lit. ‘receiving’, mystical tradition within Rabbinic Judaism

kittel

(Yiddish), robe, burial shroud for male Jews, also worn in some traditions on Yom Kippur and by bridegroom on his wedding day

Klezmer

(Hebrew/Yiddish), lit. ‘vessels of music’ (instruments), East European musical tradition

Kol Nidre

(Aramaic), lit. ‘all vows’, declaration recited in synagogue before beginning of evening service on Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), can also refer to entire evening service on Yom Kippur

Liberal Judaism

A form of Progressive Judaism, which developed since the beginning of the 20th century

Mani

(216-276), prophet and founder of Manichaeism, a popular Gnostic religion of late antiquity

Masada

A site of ancient palaces and fortifications overlooking the Dead Sea, site of Jewish mass suicide in the wake of a prolonged Roman siege

Matzah

(Hebrew), unleavened bread traditionally eaten during Passover holiday (based on Ex 12:8 and 18; Dt 16:3 and 8)

Menasseh ben Israel

(1604-1657), Portuguese rabbi, writer and diplomat whose Messianic expectations led to his campaign for the readmission of Jews to England

Mensch

(Yiddish), a person of integrity

Midrash

(Hebrew), lit. ‘to study’, homiletic method of biblical exegesis

miqveh

(Hebrew), bath used for ritual immersion in Judaism

Mishnah, or Mishna

(Hebrew), the first redaction of oral traditions and the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism (c. 220CE)

Mitzvot

‘Commandments’ which guide Jewish daily life

Noahide Laws

A set of seven Talmudic conditions non-Jews must meet in order for Jews to be allowed to forge economic and social relationships with them. These were formulated when Jews began to live largely in the Diaspora. These are the prohibition of idolatry, or murder, of theft, of sexual immorality, of blasphemy, of eating flesh from a living animal, and the institution of a legal system.

Ontology

(Greek), the study of the ‘nature of being/existence’

Orthodox Judaism

(A traditional(ist) Jewish movement originating in central Europe in the late 18th early 19th century, which adheres to the principles of Halakhah

Ostjuden

(German), (often pejoratively used for) East European Jews

Pahlavi

Middle Persian, Western Iranian language spoken during Sassanid times (224-654 CE)

Payot

(Hebrew), sidelocks, based on rabbinical interpretation (Makkoth 20a) of Lev 19:27

Pesach

(Hebrew), Passover; holiday commemorating the story of the Exodus

Pharisees

Political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE)

Pseudepigraphical writings

Falsely attributed books whose claimed authorship is unfounded

Piyyut

(Hebrew), a liturgical poem

Rab/rabbi

(Hebrew), rabbinic scholar and teacher

Raskolnik communities

Religious groups dissenting from Russian-Orthodox church and often persecuted by Russian governments

Rebbe

(Yiddish), a leader and spiritual figure in the Hasidic movement

Reform Judaism

A liberal Jewish denomination dating back to early 19th century Germany

Rosh Hashanah

(Hebrew, literally ‘head of the year’), Jewish New Year celebrated in the autumn

Sabbatai Zevi

(1626-1676), scholar and kabbalist who claimed to be the Messiah and attracted many followers before being forced to convert to Islam

Sabra

(Hebrew), a Jew born in the State of Israel

Sadduceans

A Jewish sect from the Second Temple period (2nd century BCE-70CE)

Shlemiel

(Yiddish), unlucky or awkward person

shlong

(Yiddish), colloquial for (large) penis

Second Vatican Council

A Council of the Roman Catholic Church concerned with its relationship to the modern world. It met in Rome from October 1962 – December 1965

Sefer HaRazim (book)

Kabbalistic text, probably dating from the third or fourth century

R. Shammai

(50BCE-30CE), Jewish scholar, founder of the rabbinical school ‘House of Shammai’

Shoah

(Hebrew), lit. ‘catastrophe’, Holocaust, the genocide of six million European Jews during World War II

Shema Yisrael

(Hebrew), lit. ‘Hear, Israel’, central Jewish prayer that affirms belief in monotheistic God

Shtetl

(Yiddish), small town with substantial Jewish population

Shiksa

(Yiddish), lit. ‘abomination’, pejorative or ironic term for non-Jewish woman

Shmuck

(Yiddish), lit. ‘penis’, used as a pejorative for an obnoxious person

shtick

(Yiddish), lit. ‘piece’, a comic theme or gimmick

Sitz im Leben

(German), in Bible criticism for ‘setting in life’, referring to context of text

Sturm und Drang

(German), ‘Storm and stress’, a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music

Sword of Moses (book),

Apocryphical Hebrew book of magic

Talmud

(Hebrew), ‘instruction, learning’, the most authoritative sacred text of Rabbinic Judaism

Tanakh

Acronym for the books of the Hebrew Bible

Tannaim

Rabbinic scholars from the Mishnaic Period (c. 70-200CE)

Torah

(Hebrew), ‘instruction’, the five books of Moses and the foundation of Judaism

Tosefta

(Aramaic), ‘supplements’, a compilation of Jewish oral law from c. 200CE

Teshuvah / metanoia

(Hebrew / Greek), repentance, return

Tzaddiq/ zaddik

(Hebrew), ‘righteous one’

Wissenschaft des Judentums

(German) A 19th century scholarly movement dedicated to the scientific and secular study of Jewish literature and culture

Yom Kippur

(Hebrew), Day of Atonement

Zealots

Political movement in first century against the Roman occupation


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