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Pagan
          
(Lat. village peasant) In a general sense, neither Jewish nor Christian (nor Muslim), traditionally with negative connotations (an irreligious person, heathen); see gentile. The term also has come to be adopted by some modern persons or movements that dissociate themselves from the "Judeo-Christian" tradition.

Pale of Settlement
          The area in the western part of the Russian Empire in which Russian Jews were allowed to live from 1835-1917.

Paleographic
Relating to the study of ancient writings and inscriptions or to an ancient manner of writing.
Paleo-Hebrew
Ancient Hebrew script; one of the offshoots of the Phoenician script; used exclusively in the First Temple period and in priestly circles and as a symbol of nationalistic revival in the Second Temple Period. A version of this script is still used today by the Samaritans.
Palestine
(Greek form representing Philistines, for the seacoast population encountered by early geographers) An ancient designation for the area between Syria (to the north) and Egypt (to the south), between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan; roughly, modern Israel. The name refers to the Land of Israel during the years of the Jewish exile.
Palestine Conciliation Committee (PCC)
Resolution 194 of the United Nations (1948) established this commission to formulate principles for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which it tried to with the Protocol of Lausanne. The PCC ultimately was dissolved in 1962.
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
Palestine Liberation Front was formed by Mohammed Zeidan as a militant organization in 1977 that broke off from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and has been responsible for many acts of terror world wide.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
Umbrella organization, a coalition of groups including the Fatah, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several others. The PLO was formed in 1964 by the first Arab summit conference as the embodiment of the notion of a Palestinian entity. It was originally controlled by the Arab states but after the 1967 war was taken over by genuine Palestinian nationalist groups and became autonomous.
Palestine National Congress
A congress for the Arab League held by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser in September 1963. It called for the creation of the PLO and created the Palestine National Fund and adopted a national Palestinian covenant.
Palestine National Council (PNC)
The PLO's highest decision-making body. Composed of nearly 600 members from all PLO factions, it meets once every few years to set the organization's long-term goals and policies.
Palestine National Front (PNF)
Formed in January 1973 to coordinate nationalist resistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The group was outlawed by Israel in 1978.
Palestine People's Party
In 1982, Bashir Al-Barghouti founded the Palestine Communist Party in the West Bank and Gaza. After the Cold War, the group became the Palestine People’s Party and became one of the constituent members of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising during the Intifada. This group supports Oslo and calls for the PLO to work together with opposing groups.
Palestinian Authority (PA)
The Palestinian autonomous government in the West Bank and Gaza areas from which the Israeli Defense Forces have redeployed since the 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement and the 1995 Interim Agreement (“Oslo II”).
Palestinian Committee
In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly formed the committee to implement the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Palestinian and Islamic Forces
Umbrella organization and product of the Second Intifada, includes the PLO, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
An outgrowth of the Oslo agreements, the PLC is the legislature of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian Liberation Army(PLA)
Formed in 1964 as the PLO's military branch led by Yasser Arafat. After Oslo this group was observed by the PA security units.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
Founded in 1964 after an Arab League decision. In 1969 Yasser Arafat took the organization over and merged other organization under it making it the main Palestinian organization.
Palestinian National Fund
A fund for Palestinian taxes and donations from other Arab persons and countries. Managed by a board of directors appointed by the PLO executive committee.
Palestinian National Salivation Front
Started in March 1985 by PFLP and pro-Syrian groups in Damascus. This group is an umbrella organization that opposes Yasser Arafat's policies.
Palestinian Refugees
About 600,000 Palestinian (other estimates range form 500,000 to 800,0000) fled Israel between 1947 and 1949, fundamentally because of the Arab states' rejection of the United Nation partition plan and invasion of Israel. The refugees fled out of fear of war and in response to Arab leaders' calls for Arabs to evacuate the areas allocated to the Jews until Israel had been eliminated. In a handful of cases, Palestinians were expelled. A majority of the refugees and their descendants now live in the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. About 360,000 Palestinians fled eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights during and after Israel's defensive 1967 War. Palestinian who fled in 1967 are technically considered displaced persons and do not have official refugee status. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimated that 175,000 of these 360,000 Palestinians were refugees from the 1948 War. The May 4, 1994, Gaza-Jericho Accord calls for Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt to form a Continuing Committee to discuss the 1967 displaced persons. The problem of the 1947-1949 refugees, on the other hand, is to be left for the “final status” negotiations under the terms of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles of September 13, 1993.
Palestinian/Jerusalem/Eretz Yisrael Talmud
During the centuries following Rabbi Judah's editing of the Mishnah, it was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis. Eventually, some of these rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentaries on the Mishnah's laws in a series of books known as the Talmud. The rabbis of Palestine edited their discussions of the Mishnah about the year 400: Their work became known as the Palestinian or Eretz Yisrael Talmud (in Hebrew, Talmud Yerushalmi, which literally means “Jerusalem Talmud”).
Palestinians
Although anyone with roots in the land that is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is technically a Palestinian, the term is now more commonly used to refer to Arabs with such roots. Palestinian nationalism, as distinguished from Arab nationalism, did not emerge until after World War I. Most of the world's Palestinian population is concentrated in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan, although many Palestinians live in Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries.
Palmach
(abbr. for Heb. peluggot mahaz; "shock companies"). Strike force within the Haganah.
Paradise
(Greek, park, garden; possibly derived from Heb. pardes) Term used to describe the location of the creation of humankind as well as the destination where those favored by God will ultimately arrive (especially in Islam). Also used in apocalyptic texts for one of the heavens or levels above the inhabited earth, near God.
Parasha(h)
(Heb. section) Prescribed weekly section of biblical Torah (Pentateuch) read in Jewish synagogue liturgy (ordinarily on an annual cycle). See haftarah.
PaRDeS
(Heb. orchard) Also an anacronym for the four fundamental branches of Torah study: Pshat (Simple meaning), Remez (Hinted-at meaning), Drash (Derived meaning), and Sod (Secret meaning).
Parchment
Prepared animal skin on which text is written.
Pareveh
An adjective that qualifies a food, according to the Jewish laws of kashrut, that has neither dairy nor animal products in it and can be eaten with either.
Paris Agreement
Israel and the PLO signed the agreement of the terms and conditions of economic collaboration on April 29, 1994.
Parochet
The curtain in front of the Aron HaKodesh.
Partisans
Irregular troops engaged in guerrilla warfare, often behind enemy lines. During World War II, this term was applied to resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied countries.
Partition Plan(s)
Proposals for dividing Palestine into autonomous areas controlled by Jews and Arabs.
Passive Resistance
Opposition to oppression by means other than force, such as spiritual, religious, or cultural resistance.
Passover
(Pesach) The major Jewish spring holiday (with agricultural aspects) also known as hag hamatzot (festival of unleavened bread) commemorating the Exodus or deliverance of the Hebrew people from Egypt (see Exodus 12-13). The festival lasts eight days, during which Jews refrain from eating all leavened foods and products. A special ritual meal called the Seder is prepared, and a traditional narrative called the Haggadah, supplemented by hymns and songs, marks the event. See calendar, liturgy.
Patriarchs
1. A common designation for the early founding figures of ancient Semitic tradition (before Moses) such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve tribal figureheads of Israel (Judah, Benjamin, etc.). 2. One of the bishops of the four major early Christian centers--Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, or Alexandria, with Constantinople later added as a fifth. After the break with Rome, the term may refer to the head of any of the national divisions of the Eastern church.
Patur
Something or someone who is exempt (from an obligation or a law).
Peace for Galilee Operation
Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 aimed at ending PLO threats to citizens in northern Israel and forcing the PLO out of the country.
Peel Commission
British Royal Commission appointed in 1936 to inquire into the Palestine problem and make recommendations for its solution. The Commission recommended partitioning the country into Arab and Jewish states.
Pentacost
(Greek, 50th [day]) See Shavuot/Shavuot, calendar.
Pentateuch
(from Greek for “five books/scrolls”). The five books attributed to Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; known in Jewish tradition as Torat Mosheh (the teaching of Moses), or simply the Torah.
"People's Court" Trials
These trials were modeled after the Stalinist mock trials in the Soviet Union. Resisters and others were placed on public trial dressed in drab clothing, etc. in the hopes of presenting a negative image of those who opposed the regime. Most individuals were executed hours after their supposed trial.
Pericope
A portion of Scripture read in public worship.
Perpetrators
Those that do something that is morally wrong or criminal.
Perushim
A community of Ashkenazim, opponents of the Hasidim, organized in Jerusalem in 1816. They represented the traditional belief of the Talmud Sages: the validity of both the Written and Oral Law.
Perutah
A small copper coin, sufficient to acquire a wife by money.
Pesach
Hebrew term for Passover.
Petuchowski, Jacob
(1925-1991) Professor of rabbinics, theology, and liturgy at Hebrew Union College from 1956 on; United States
Phalanges Libanaises (al-Kataib al-Lubnaniyya)
The largest and most important Christian-Maronite party in Lebanon. Founded in 1936 by Pierre Gemayel as a vigilante youth movement dedicated to the preservation of a Christian Lebanon, it later developed into a political party with a sophisticated and elaborate organization and a quite complex concept of the Lebanese entity and its problems.
Pharisees
(Heb. perushim, lit. separatists; adj. pharisaic). The name given to a group or movement in early Judaism, the origin and nature of which is unclear. Many scholars identify them with the later sages and rabbis who taught the oral and written law; others see them as a complex of pietistic and zealous separatists, distinct from the proto-rabbis. According to Josephus, the Pharisees believed in the immortality of souls and resurrection of the dead, in a balance between predestination and free will, in angels as active divine agents and in authoritative oral law. In the early Christian materials, Pharisees are often depicted as leading opponents of Jesus/Joshua and his followers, and are often linked with “scribes” but distinguished from the Sadducees.
Philo Judeus
“The Jew” of Alexandria. Greek speaking (and writing) prolific Jewish author in the 1st century CE. Provides extensive evidence for Jewish thought in the Greco-Roman (“hellenistic”) world outside of Palestine.
Phylacteries
(Greek, protectors) See tefillin.
Pidyon Haben
(Heb. redemption of the [firstborn] son). The rite of relieving the first male child born to parents not descended from Aaron or Levi of certain religious obligations by redeeming him from a member of the priestly class. It is celebrated 30 days after the child's birth. The father pays five silver shekels (today, typically five dollars in coins) to have the child released from his obligations.
Piety
A general term for religious devotion.
Pikuah Nefesh
To save a life (usually in context of breaking Shabbat, etc.).
Pilpul
Dialectical rational method of studying Jewish oral law as codified in the Talmud(s).
Pilsudsky, Jozef
(1867- 1935) Poland's prominent leader between WWI and WWII. At the end of WWI Poland was granted renewed independence after 130 years of partition and political subjugation. Pilsudski, a popular military figure and political moderate, came to power in a coup in 1926 and continued to lead the country until his death in 1935.
Pirkei Avot
(Heb. Ethics of the Fathers) A Tractate of Mishnah that deals with ethical and moral behavior.
Pirke d'Rabbi Eliezer
An 8th-century homiletic work on scriptural narratives; land of Israel.
Pittsburgh Platform
Early statement of American Reform Jewish principles.
Piyyutim
Medieval Jewish synagogue hymns and poems added to standard prayers of the talmudic liturgy.
Plan Dalet
Israeli military operation launched on the brink of the 1948 War of Independence and dedicated to securing the minimal amounts of land allotted to Israel in the U.N. partition plan and gaining strategic positions for the upcoming war.
Plato
Ancient Greek philosopher (4th century B.C.E.), student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, whose identification of reality with the non-material world of ideas (“the ideal world”) played an enormous role in subsequent philosophy and religion (see neo-Platonism). Father of “Platonism” and the Platonic Academy as a philosophical institution in Athens.
Platonism
See Plato.
Pliny the Elder (ca. 23-79 A.D.)
Upper class Roman historian who wrote about the Essenes and identified their location as the Dead Sea area.
PLO Central Council (PCC)
The Council was established in June 1970 as the second leading body of the PLO. In 1973 the PCC became an intermediary body between the PNC and the Executive Committee. At present it has 124 members.
PLO Charter
Adopted by the PNC in July 1968. Contains 33 articles of basic law for the PLO. Also called the Palestinian National Charter and the Palestinian Covenant.
PLO Departments
The PLO is made up for several departments. The biggest one is the Political Department which supervises the work of the PLO abroad. Other departments include: Returnees, Culture and Information, Social Affairs, Education and Popular Organizations.
PLO Executive Committee (EC)
The highest body of the PLO. This group represents the PLO internationally and has full control over all sub-organizations and budgets. The committee has 18 members and is elected by the PNC.
PLO Law of 1968
The Knesset adopted a law banning communication with the PLO and other terrorist organizations.
Plumbat Operation
Israel engaged in a covert operation to buy and smuggle “yellowcake”, or uranium oxide, a key ingredient in making nuclear weapons.
Pluralism
A general term for situations in which a variety of perspectives are accommodated, or at least tolerated, within the recognized system; e.g., America as a pluralistic society.
Po'alei Agudat Israel (P.A.I.)
Religious labor movement, affiliate of Agudat Israel, founded in Poland in 1922, active in Eretz Israel from 1925.
Poalei Zion
Movement whose ideology combines Zionism and socialism.
Pogrom
From the Russian word for "devastation"; an unprovoked attack or series of attacks upon a Jewish community.
Poland's Defeat
On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Polish defenses crumbled before the German onslaught of tanks, motorized vehicles and attacks by dive-bombers on the civilian population. The German theory of Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") involved massive concentrated attack. After two weeks Germany controlled western Poland except for Warsaw, which held out for two more weeks. Meanwhile, on September 17, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east according to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed in August 1939, which divided Poland into spheres of interest for each country.
Polish-Jewish Relations
Jewish attitudes regarding Poles and Poles regarding Jews have been shaped by a complex and long history. Many Holocaust survivors have negative attitudes toward the Poles based on their experiences in the 1930's and 1940's. While for a thousand years Poles and Jews lived in close physical proximity and became economically inter-dependent they remained highly separate groups: separated by culture, by religion and by national identity.
Ponary
A forest preserve located six miles from Vilna. Before the war it was used for outings and picnics, but it became a killing field for most of Vilna's Jews. The victims were shot to death by SS men and German police assisted by Lithuanian collaborators. Perhaps, 70,000 to 100,000 victims, the majority of them Jews, were murdered there.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
Leftist, Syrian-based PLO faction, led by George Habash, that rejects the current Israeli-PLO peace process. The PFLP is responsible for many terrorist acts, including airline hijackings and attacks on foreign airports. In 1999 the group forged ties with Arafat and Fateh. This group is listed as a terrorist organization by the US state department.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)
Broke off from the PFLP in 1968. This group is based in Damascus. It is backed by Syria and is hostile toward Arafat and his supporters within the PLO. This group rejects any compromise with Israel and is labeled as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
Popular Struggle Front (PSF)
Small anti-Arafat faction of the PLO. Created before 1967 but formally established in July 1967.
Porrajmos
(“The Devouring,” Romani). Term used by the Roma (Gypsies) for the Holocaust.
Posek
(pl. poskim): The rabbi one consults for halakhic decisions; an authority on Jewish Law.
Posken
To render a halakhic ruling, usually one that clarifies the law in a specific case.
Prayer
A general term used for addressing petitions (or praise) to the deity. See amida, birkat, kaddish, maariv, mincha, salat, shemoneh esreh. See also hymn, liturgy, siddur.
Predestination
The idea that one's eternal destiny is determined beforehand, from the beginning of time, by the will and plan of the deity.
von Preysing, Bishop Konrad Graf
Became Bishop of Berlin in 1935, attacked Nazi policies in his various sermons. Known to have met frequently with Military Resisters, is said to have given a personal blessing to Klaus von Staufenberg.
Priest
A functionary usually associated, in antiquity, with temples and their rites (including sacrifice). In classical Christianity, the office of priest was developed (see ordination, clergy) in connection with the celebration of the mass and Eucharist, and with celibacy as an important qualification (especially in Roman Catholicism). See also kohen.
Prophet
(from Greek, to “speak for” or “speak forth”). Name given to accepted spokespersons of God (or their opposites, “false prophets”). Became a designation for a section of the Jewish scriptures; see nabi, TaNaK.
Proselyte(s)
The Hebrew term ger (stranger, non-Israelite, who lived among Israel) was translated in the Septuagint into the Greek proselytos, which meant a convert to Judaism. Since the 4th century Jews have not engaged in organized missionary activities. Though individual proselytes are still welcomed into the community after intense study and baptism and (in the case of males) circumcision. There are considerable differences between the branches of Judaism. Today most conversions happen because of mixed marriages, where one partner converts in order to avoid potential conflicts in family life.
Protexia
Protection; business or political connections
Proto-Judaism
Early Judaism.
Proto-rabbis
Pre-70 CE sages who set the foundations of post-70 CE rabbinic Judaism before the ordination of rabbis became formalized in its classical sense.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
A major piece of anti-Semitic propaganda, compiled at the turn of the century by members of the Russian Secret Police. Essentially adapted from a nineteenth century French polemical satire directed against Emperor Napoleon III, substituting Jewish leaders, the Protocols maintained that Jews were plotting world dominion by setting Christian against Christian, corrupting Christian morals and attempting to destroy the economic and political viability of the West. It gained great popularity after World War I and was translated into many languages, encouraging anti-Semitism in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Long repudiated as an absurd and hateful lie, the book currently has been reprinted and is widely distributed by Neo-Nazis and others who are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.
Proverbs
The Latinized word for the Book called "Mishlei Shlomoh" that is contained in Ketuvim (Writings). Its primary and most likely author is King Solomon and it contains stories of wisdom and guidance.
Prutah (pl. prutot)
A monetary unit, 1000 of which equaled an Israeli pound.
Psak
Decision, verdict.
Psalm(s)
The English word for the Book of Tehillim: A collection of Biblical hymns, i.e. sacred songs or poems used in worship and non-canonical passages.
Pseudepigrapha
(adj. pseudepigraphical), from Greek, pseudos, “deceit, untruth,” and Greek, epigraphe, "writing, inscription." A name given to a number of intertestamental apocryphal writings that are implausibly attributed to an ancient worthy such as Adam/Eve, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Ezra.
P'sak
Halakhic judicial ruling on a contested matter.
P'shat
The plain meaning of a word, verse, or passage as read in its context.
P'sikta d'Rav Kahana
Homilies on the scriptural readings in synagogues for special Sabbaths and holidays, written around the 5th century; land of Israel.
P'sikta Rabbati
Medieval Midrash on the scriptural reading in synagogues for special Sabbaths and holiday.
Purim
A Jewish festival commemorating the deliverance of Jews in Persia as described in the biblical book of Esther (Megillat Esther). Held in late winter (between Hanukkah and Passover), on the 14th of Adar. See calendar, megilah.
Pushke
A box in the home or the synagogue used to collect money for donation to charity.

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