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Aaron or Aharon
Moses and Miriam’s brother, the first Kohen Gadol or “High Priest” of Israel.
Aaron of Karlin (1736-1772)
Leading figure of Hassidism in Lithuania.
Abdullah Plan
In 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abdel Aziz of Saudi Arabia unveiled a peace initiative that called on Israel to withdraw to pre- 1967 borders and suggested the establishment of Palestine with a capital in Jerusalem in return for normalized relations with the Arabs. Yassir Arafat’s absence from the conference influenced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah of II to also be absent from the conference.
Abraham
Patriarch recognized as the founder of monotheism, Abraham is respected in all three primary monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 B.C. E., Abraham was the father of Ishmael (progenitor of Islam) through his wife Hagar, and of Isaac (progenitor of Judaism) by his wife Sarah. (See also Genesis 12-25 [Old Testament]; Galatians 3-4 [New Testament]; and Quran 37. 83-113, 2.124-140).
Abravanel/Abarbanel, Isaac ben Judah
(1437-1508) Bible commentator and statesman who lived in Portugal, Spain, and later Venice.
Absentee Property Law
Israeli law which states that land abandoned by Arabs in Palestine before the reestablishment of the State of Israel belongs to the State of Israel.
Abu Dis
Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem often offered as as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Knesset (Israeli parliament) first approved this offer on May 15, 2000 by a vote of 56 to 48, but Arab riots which occurred soon afterwards postponed the transfer indefinitely.
Abu Mazen-Beilin Plan
An agreement drawn up by Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas)of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin. The plan proposed Israel's annexation of 4-5% of the West Bank in exchange of an equal amount of Israeli territory to form a Palestinian state. The plan also called for the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu-Dis to be the capital of the new Palestinian state.
Abwehr
German military intelligence organization which reported to the OKW (Overall High Command of Armed Services). Under the leadership of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the Abwehr became a chief area of operation for resisters, particularly in establishing contacts with outside nations
Acacia Tortilis
A tree prevalent in the southern wadis (valleys) of Israel and used in the construction of the Holy Temple and tabernacle.
Accountability Operation
In July 1993, Hezbollah and Palestinian groups in Southern Lebanon were firing Katyusha rockets into Israel’s security zone and into northern Israel. On July 25, Israel launched Accountability Operation aimed at pressuring the Lebanese government to take action against the militants in Lebanon. This drove numerous civilians to leave southern Lebanon for Beirut. The campaign ended when the US managed to get Syria and Hezbollah to stop attacking northern Israel. However, attacks against Israel’s security zone resumed soon after.
Acharon
(Heb. last or a later one). Refers to a Torah scholar who lived during the time from the 16th or 17th centuries to the 19th, such as Ravvi Akiva Eiger.
Achdut Ha'avodah
(Heb. Labor Union) Socialist-Zionist party that split from the Mapai party in 1944 under the leadership of Itzhak Tabenkin. It later rejoined the Labor party in 1968.
Achi
Local haredi political group in Har Nof, Jerusalem.
Achille Lauro
Italian cruise liner hijacked by the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) on October 8, 1985. The four hijackers held all 400 passengers captive and threatened to blow up the ship if their demands to release 50 Palestinians from Israeli prisons were not met. To emphasize the seriousness of their demands the captors murdered a disabled American-Jewish passenger named Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard. Following worldwide criticism, the hijackers later surrendered . In 2003 the leader of the PLF, Abu Abbas, was captured by U.S. led forces in Iraq but died in custody before being brought to trial for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.
Active Organization for the Liberation of Palestine
A medical aid organization established in 1967 by Dr. Isam Sartawi. It merged with Fatah for brief periods in 1967 and 1971. The organization dissolved in 1983 when Sartawi was killed by members of the Abu Nidal Organization.
A.D.
(Lat. acronym. Anno Domini) Meaning "the year of our Lord", it is a term used to refer to the current period of time following the death of Jesus. Many Jews and Muslims take offense to the term and prefer to use the term "C.E." meaning "common era" to denote the same time period.
Adam
(Heb. Human or Man) Name given to the first male in the creation story contained in the Jewish scriptures (Genesis 1). Adam has been interpreted over the centuries both literally (as an actual historical person) and symbolically (as generic humankind); (See also "allegory").
Adar
Twelfth month in the Jewish calendar. Contains the holiday Purim.
Admar
Acronym for “Our master, teacher and Rabbi”, refers to a great tzaddik and specifically to Chassidic leaders.
Admat Kodesh
(Heb. Holy Land) Phrase which appears but once in the Five Books of Moses (Exodus 3.5), in reference to the ground which Moses stood upon during the story of the burning bush. ("And he (God) said: 'do not come closer, remove your sandals from upon your feet, for the place you stand is holy ground").
Administrative Detention
When a prisoner is arrested and kept without trial or charge for up to six months.
Adonai
Name for God used most frequently in prayers and the Torah. It means “Master of the universe”.
Af Sha'al
(Heb. Not an Inch) Slogan used by opponents of the Israeli withdrawal from lands acquired by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Afikomen
(Aramaic, dessert) The half piece of the middle matzah hidden during the Passover seder and eaten at its conclusion.
Agatha Operation
British military operation carried out in the Palestine Mandate on Saturday, June 29, 1946. Thousands of British troops were sent around the country to try and contain Jewish paramilitary development. During the operation, several underground weapons storehouses were uncovered and the Jews of the Palestine Mandate were placed under strict curfew. Additionally, close to 3,000 Jews were arrested, among them were future Israeli Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett
Agorah
A monetary unit, 100 of which at various times have comprised an Israeli pound, sheqel, or a new sheqel.
Aggada(h)
(Heb. Telling, Narration, or Legend). Jewish term for non-halachik (non legal) matter, especially in Talmud and Midrash; includes folklore, legend, theology/theosophy, scriptural interpretations, biography, etc. (Not to be confused with Haggadah)
Agnostic, Agnosticism
(Gre. Not Knowing) A general term to indicate suspension of judgment regarding the existence of God.
Agranat Commission
Special committee of inquiry established to determine the events that led to Israel's lack of preparedness for the Yom Kippur War. The committee was headed by Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Shimon Agranat and determined that Israeli forces were not adequately prepared for the war mainly due to a false conception that Egypt would not attack without first gaining air superiority. The commission report absolved Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan of direct responsibility for the military's lack of preparedness, pressed the establishment of a ministerial committee on security, and called on Major General Eliahu Zaira (Chief of Military Intelligence) and Lt. General David Elazar (Chief of Staff) to resign.
Agrippa II
(28-92 CE) The last king of the Herodian line (50-92). Agrippa II was educated in Rome. When the Jewish revolt broke, Agrippa II tried in vain to convince the Jewish people to stop it. He then joined the Romans and took part in their fight against the Jews.
Agudat Israel
Predominantly Ashkenazi haredi political party.
Agunah
(Heb. Anchored) A woman who cannot remarry; usually because her husband refuses to give her a get (writ of divorce), because there is no way to verify whether or not he is dead, or because he is incompetent to give a divorce (i.e., mentally ill).
Ahdut ha-Avodah
(Heb. Labor Union) Socialist-Zionist Labor party founded in Palestine in 1919. In 1930 it merged with Ha-Po'el ha-Za'ir and formed Mapai. It later seceded from Mapai in 1944 but reunited in 1968 as part of the Israeli Labor Party
Ahnenerbe
(Ger. Ancestral Heritage) The Institute for the Scientific Study of Ends and Purposes, located in Berlin.
Ahuzat Bayit
In 1907, Jewish residents of Jaffa formed a society by the name of Ahuzat Bayit, with a view towards establishing a neighborhood outside the congested city. With funds lent by the Jewish National Fund, land was purchased near Jaffa. The parcels were drawn by lot, and the foundations of the first building were laid in 1909. Ahuzat Bayit merged with two other new neighborhoods, Nahalat Binyamin and Geula, and they were together named "Tel Aviv," the title of Nahum Sokolow's Hebrew translation of Herzl's utopian novel, Altneuland.
Akdamot
(Aramaic before I begin) A poem recited during the morning service on Shavuot.
Akkadian
An ancient Near Eastern language that included the dialects of Assyrian and Babylonian; knowledge of Akkadian is the key to understanding the culture of ancient Mesopotamia.
Akedah/Aqedah/Akedat Yitzhak
(Heb. Binding or The Binding of Isaac) In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Though Abraham makes all the preparations to do so by binding Isaac upon an altar, at the last minute God sends down an angel to stop him and sacrifice a ram in Isaac's place.
Akiva ben Joseph
(c. 50-135 C.E.) Famous Jewish rabbi of ancient Israel; a major legal scholar who established an academy in B'nai Brak, and was also a legendary mystic and martyr. He was tortured and killed at the hands of the Romans in 135 CE
Aktion
(Ger. Action). The code name of the operation that had as its goal the annihilation of the entire Jewish population of the Generalgouvernement, the portion of Poland occupied by Germany. The operation was dubbed "Aktion Reinhard" by SS men in honor of Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect of the Final Solution, who was assassinated by members of the Czech underground in June 1942. Three death camps were built to accomplish the mass murder: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Aktion Reinhard began in mid-March 1942 and ended in November 1943, during which more than two million Jews were killed.
Aktion Erntefest
(Ger. Operation Harvest Festival) Code name for the liquidation and mass killings of the remaining Jews in the Lublin area that occurred on November 3, 1943. An estimated 42,000 people were shot while loud music was played to drown out the shootings. Last Aktion of Aktion Reinhard.
Aktion Reinhard
(Ger.) Code name for the annihilation of European Jewry. Named after Reinhard Heydrich.
Aktion T-4 (Tiergarten Strasse 4)
(Ger.) Code name for the Euthanasia program. Name taken from the Reich Chancellery building's address.
Albo, Joseph
Author of Sefer Ha-Ikkarim, "The Book of Principles", a major work of Jewish thought written in Spain in 1425.
Al Aqsa Fire
On August 21, 1969 a fire broke out in the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The cause of the fire was never found out for certain, but it is widely believed to have been started by a deranged Australian Christian tourist named Dennis Michael Rohan. Though little damage was actually done, the fire provoked widespread concern in the Muslim world over the safety of Muslim shrines in Jerusalem and led to the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Jerusalem Committee, headed by King Hassan II of Morocco.
Al Aqsa Intafada
Also known as the Second Intafada, the Al Aqsa Intafada was a period of increased violence beginning in 2000. After years of mounting tension due to the failing Oslo Accords, violence broke out at the Al Aqsa Mosque that launched years of terrorist attacks against Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Visited the Tempe Mount with a large contingent of security personnel. The next day, Palestinians staged a violent demonstration to which Israeli security force responded with rubber bullets and live ammunition. Seven Palestinians were killed and 200 others injured. The unrest spread quickly and was funded by Hamas and Fatah. It proved the inability of the Palestinian national Authority and included Palestinian security personnel. The Intifada lasted through May 2005. Palestinians killed a total 657 Israeli civilians, 330 members of the Israeli security forces, and 33 foreigners. Israeli security forces killed 3,235 Palestinians, targeting specific suspected militants and political leaders.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
A Palestinian terrorist organization linked to Fatah and established during the Second Intifada of 2000. Unlike previous Fatah linked terrorist organizations, the Ala Aqsa Martyrs Brigade often carries out suicide bombings (particularly on buses) and employs both men and women as suicide bombers.
Al Aqsa Mosque
A mosque located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem where the Israelite Temple once stood. Constructed during the late seventh century, today control over the Ala Aqsa Mosque together with the Dome of the Rock and the rest of the Temple Mount is controlled by the Palestinian Muslim religious authority known as the Waqf, though Israel still maintains sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
Al Aqsa Mosque Attack
On April 11, 1982 a new American immigrant serving in the Israeli army named Allan Goodman shot 24 Arabs at the Al Aqsa Mosque, wounding 12 and killing 12 before being subdued by Israeli forces.
Al-Hamishmar
(Heb. On Guard) The official newspaper of the Mapam Party
Alawis (or Nusayris)
A Muslim offshoot of Shia Islam. Most of the Alawis live in Syria, where they form some 12 percent of the population. Once a marginal, rural, underprivileged community, Syrian Alawis have undergone a dramatic transformation in the past twenty years as members of the community advanced through the army and the Ba'thi party to positions of dominance (including the current President Hafez Assad).
Algiers Declaration
The Palestinian National congress met in Algiers in November 1988 responding to the outbreak of the First Intifada. They declared unilateral plans for Palestinian statehood based on United Nations Resolution 181, which they had originally rejected, which partitioned two nations.
Aleinu
First of the closing prayers of prayer services.
Aleph-Bet
The Hebrew alphabet.
Alexander Yannai
The Hasmonean King of Judea (103-76 B.C.E). He expanded his kingdom over the whole coastal region from Mount Carmel to the Egyptian border. During his reign there were years of unrest caused by Nabatean attacks and much of the territory under his kingdom was lost. Yannai regained popularity and much of his territory later, including the Golan and the Eastern bank of Jordan.
Algiers Declaration
Declaration passed in Algiers by the 19th Session of the Palestinian National Congress (1988) declaring the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as it capital. The declaration recognized the 1947 UN Partition Plan (thereby granting de facto recognition to Israel) and demanded Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders.
Aliyah
(Heb. To go up) Aliyah refers to when one is called to the altar (bema) to read from the Torah. Also immigration to Israel. Starting in the 1880’s, moving to Palestine was known as “ingathering of the exile” or a “returning” to the promised land, thus bearing significant religious and Zionistic significance. The phases of immigration are also referred to each as an Aliyah and primarily consisted of Jews fleeing from persecution or dreaming of building Holy Land. The First Aliyah (1882-1903) were 20,000-30,000 Jews from Russia, Romania, and Galicia. The Second Aliyah (1904-1914) consisted of 35,000-40,000 pioneering youth from Russia after WWI, the Third Aliyah (1919-1923) of 35,000 youth from Russia, Poland, and Romania. The Fourth Aliyah (1924-1931) consisted of 88,000 Jews from Poland. The Fifth Aliyah (1932-1938) consisted of 215,000 Jews, during WWII about 82,000 Jews, and afterwards 57,000. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Law of Return has made Aliyah a state policy. Since 1948, there have also been waves of immigration, such as the Soviet Union Jewish immigration in the 1990’s.
Aliyah Bet
(Heb. Secondary Immigration or Clandestine Immigration) Term used to refer to underground Jewish immigration efforts carried out (mostly by ship) in the last few years of the British mandate over Palestine when Jewish immigration quotas were significantly reduced despite the ongoing daily horrors of the Holocaust in Europe. (See also Exodus)
Allegory
(Gre. Other or To Speak in Public) Symbolic story told in a concrete fashion. Similar to a fable or parable. (See also midrash and tafsir)
Allgemeine SS
General body of the SS, which included all members of the organization with the exception of the Waffen-SS.
Alliance Israelite Universelle
International Jewish organization, founded in Paris in 1860 to protect the rights of Jewish citizens and to promote education and professional development among Jews around the world.
Allies
The nations, including the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union, as well as the Free French of Charles De Gaulle, that joined in the war against Germany and the other Axis nations. The Soviet Union was an ally of the Nazis between August 23, 1939, when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed, and June 22, 1941, when Hitler attacked Russia. Britain became an ally of the Soviet Union only after Stalin and Hitler went to war. The United States became an ally of the Soviet Union only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Hitler, allied to Japan, declared war on the United States.
Allon Plan
A plan devised by Yigal Allon that involved a partial withdrawal from the disputed territories. Adopted by the Israeli government in 1968. In 1967, Yigal Allon, Minister of Labor and former commander of the Israeli army proposed a plan for Israel’s return of densely populated areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to Arab Control and most of the Sinai to Egypt. It further advocated Israeli control of the Jordan River Valley and establishment of Jewish settlements as well as warning systems against attacks. Israel would retain Jerusalem and Etzion settlements. Since then, the plan has undergone many changes and reintroductions in the Kinesset.
All-Palestine Government
The name for the Arab government of Palestine established on September 22, 1948. This government was only recognized by the Arab states. It assumed the responsibilities of the Administrative council for Palestine established by the Arab League. When the Arab League dissolved in 1952, it placed the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip under the aegis of Egypt and the West Bank under Jordan.
Alpha Plan
A secret collaborative plan formulated by Great Britain and the US which attempted to attain peace by resolving issues such as refugees, territories, Jerusalem, Jordan River waters, and the Arab boycott. The plans failed because the principal players were not ready to make the kind of concessions necessary for a peace agreement.
Alshekh, Moses
Sixteenth-century Bible commentator who lived in the Turkish Empire (Turkey, Greece, Land of Israel).
Altalena Affair
Ship carrying immigrants and ammunition from France to Israel in June, 1948 under the command of Etzel leader Menachem Begin. Ben Gurion, objecting to an armed militia after the creation of the State of Israel, demanded the weapons be turned over to Israel Defense Force. The shipment was a direct challenge to the ruling party's (Labor) authority, and the IDF was ordered to open fire, killing 21 on board and nearly sparking a civil war.
Altar
The English term "altar" can be used to refer to either the stand upon which the torah is placed to be read in synagogue (Heb. bima); or the sacrificial altar (Heb. Mizbeach) which existed in the tabernacle and Holy Temple.
Alter, Robert
(1935-) Comparative literature scholar; his The Art of the Biblical Narrative (1981) is a key work in the "Bible as literature" approach to biblical studies; USA.
Altneushul
The Cracow synagogue was built in the 1500s. It is the oldest synagogue in Poland and second oldest in Europe. It was rebuilt so many times, it became known as the “Old-New Shul.” The Gestapo used it for headquarters during the War. It is now a museum.
AMAL
(Arabic acronym formed from the words "Lebanese Resistance Detachment" which together form the word "Hope") A militant Lebanese Shia organization founded in 1975 with links to Iran, it was formed to protect and reassert the Shia population residing mostly in Southern Lebanon and to fight off Western influences. The Iranian revolution and the first Israel-Lebanon war helped strengthen AMAL's influence, though in recent years its influence has dissipated considerably.
AMANA
A right wing Israeli settler movement associated with Gush Emunim and dedicated to establishing settlements in all of Eretz Yisrael.
Am Ha'aretz
(Heb. Person of the Land). A term used in Jewish scriptures for citizens, or some particular class of citizens; in rabbinic literature, for persons or groups that dissented from or were uninstructed in rabbinic halakha and rigorous purity and tithing norms. It sometimes signifies the unlearned, sometimes is used condescendingly (boor). It was also used to describe the broad mass of Jewish people of the 1st century CE, who cannot be categorized into any of the sub-groups of the time. See also Pharisees.
Amah
A unit of length equal to six “tefachim” which is approximately 48 centimeters. For example, a Sukkah’s maximum height may only be 20 amot.
Amalek
The local tribe who attacked the Ancient Israelites on their way out of Egypt and most ferociously opposed to the Hebrew conquest of biblical Canaan. The people of Israel were commanded to completely destroy all of Amalek, including every last man, woman, and child.
AMAN
(Heb. acronym. Intelligence Corps) Israeli Military Intelligence
Amen
(Heb. acronym. El Melech Ne'eman) Traditional response to prayers or blessings. It literally stands for "God the true king".
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
(Popularly known as the JDC or the Joint). American Jewry's overseas relief and rehabilitation agency, founded in 1914.
Amiad
Organization established in 1982 to foster Jewish identity and promote Diaspora Jewish community involvement with Israeli Jewish communities.
Amidah
(Heb. Standing). The main section of rabbinic Jewish prayers, recited in a standing posture; also known as tefillah or shemoneh esrei (eighteen benedictions).
Amora
(Aram. Speaker). Rabbinic Jewish teachers of the 3rd and 4th centuries C.E. who produced the Gemara for the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds.
Am Yisrael
(Heb. The Nation of Israel) Biblical term used to refer to the descendents of the patriarch Jacob
Angel
(Gre. Messenger). Came to be used specifically for a class of extra human ("spiritual") beings, both good (usually) and bad (“demons”) who become involved in human affairs; common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A leader or special functionary among the angels is sometimes called an "archangel" (e.g., Michael, Gabriel).
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Joint British-American committee sent to British Mandatory Palestine after World War II to find a solution to Arab-Jewish hostilities. Following the horrors of WWII and the growing post-war refugee crisis, the committee recommended a dramatic increase on the pre-set quota of Jewish immigration to 100,000 a year. The United States accepted the recommendation but England rejected it, leading to increased tensions in the region.
Anielewicz, Mordecai
(1919-1943) Major leader of the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto; killed May 8, 1943.
Aninut
(Heb.) The period of mourning between the time of death and the time of burial.
Anschluss
(Ger. Annexation) Annexation of Austria to Germany on March 13, 1938.
Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah
Hebrew for “Men of the Great Assembly”. During the Second Temple era, this insitution of 120 men led the Jewish people. They composed many prayers, enacted ordinances to protect Torah observance, and established the Hebrew calendar.
Anthropomorphism
(Gre.) Term for the attribution of human behavior or characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, natural phenomena or deity. With regard to deity, anthropomorphism became a point of theological discussion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.(E.g. "The Lord has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God". [Isaiah 52.10]).
Antinomian
(Gre. Opposing Law) A general term for persons or positions that consciously take a stand against the established societal rules and laws. In Christian tradition, a name given to those who felt that salvation by grace excused them from obeying temporal law(s).
Anti-Semitism
First coined in 1897 by German philosopher Wilhelm Marr to denote hatred of Jews; the term literally means opposed to Semites (which would include Arabic and other semitic peoples as well), but was invented specifically in reference to Jews and is most often applied specifically to opposition to Jews.
Apikoros
(Aram. Non-believer) Talmudic term for an apostate.
Apocalypse
(Gre. Revelation) Usually used to refer to a violent end. In both Christianity and Judaism, the apocalypse is thought to come before the coming of the Messiah.
Apocrypha
(Gre. to Hide or to Uncover) It is used in a technical sense to refer to certain Jewish books written in the Hellenistic-Roman period that came to be included in the Old Greek Jewish scriptures (and thus in the Eastern Christian biblical canon) and in the Latin Vulgate Roman Catholic canon, but not in the Jewish or Protestant biblical canons. See also Bible, Septuagint.
Appell
(Ger. Roll Call) Within the concentration camps, inmates were forced to stand at attention for hours at least twice a day while they were counted. This was always carried out no matter what the weather and often lasted for hours. Often accompanied by beatings and punishments.
Appellplatz
(Ger. Place for Roll Call) Location within the concentration camps where the Appell was carried out
Aqaba Summit
Meeting held in the Jordanian city of Aqaba in 2003 between U.S., Israeli, and Arab officials. Upon endorsement by the Quartet (U.S., Russia, E.U., and the U.N.), a plan was announced which would create an independent and demilitarized Palestinian state by the year 2005.
Arab Boycott
Formally declared by the newly formed Arab League Council on December 2, 1945. The boycott consists of the primary boycott, which prohibits direct trade between Israel and the Arab nations, the secondary boycott, which is directed at companies that do business with Israel and the tertiary boycott, which involves the blacklisting of firms that trade with other companies that do business with Israel.
Arab Executive
Formed in Haifa in 1920 and headed by Mussa al-Husseini, the creation of the role of Arab Executive was an attempt to unify the Palestinian political groups to protest Jewish Aliyah into Palestine.
Arab Higher Committee
Umbrella organization formed in 1936 by Haj Amin al-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem, to organize Palestine Arabs. The committee was often used as a platform to instigate riots against both the Jews and British.
Arab League
Organization of Arab states founded in 1945 with the goal of uniting all Arab nations (pan-Arabism) and destroying Israel.
Arab Legion
The most effective Arab fighting force during Israel’s War of Independence, the Arab Legion was established and funded by Great Britain in 1920-1921. It fought during Israel’s War of Independence with Jordan and was key in fighting in areas allotted to the Arab Palestinian state in the Partition Plan. By 1969 it was renamed the Jordanian Armed Forces as it fell into the hands of Jordanian military commanders.
Arab Liberation Army
A group of Arab militants recruited from Syrai, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt who fought in northeast Palestine and Jerusalem. They fought with Palmah during the siege of Jerusalem.
Arab Liberation Front
Left-leaning terrorist organization within the PLO. The ALF is a pan-Arabist organization sponsored by the Iraqi Ba'ath party and based in Iraq.
Arab Palestine Congress
A gathering held in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1964 to announce the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization under the leadership of Ahmed Shuqeiri.
Arab Revolt (1916-1918)
A British sponsored Arab uprising against the Ottoman Turks in Arabia.
Arab Revolt (1936)
A series of Arab riots coupled with a long general labor strike provoked by increasing Jewish immigration to British Mandatory Palestine. Led by Haj Amin al-Hussieni and the Arab Higher Committee, the goals of the uprising were: to end Jewish immigration, establish a system of self-rule, and bring a cessation of land sales to Jews. The British responded to the riots by establishing the Peel Commission to investigate the cause of the revolt and recommend a solution.
Aramaic
Semitic language known since the 9th B.C.E.; official language of the Persian empire; used extensively in southwest Asia and by the Jews after the Babylonian exile; the cursive script replaced the ancient paleo-Hebrew script for secular writing as well as for holy scriptures.
Aramco
In 1933, Saudi Arabia permitted Standard Oil of California (SOCAL, now Chevron) to prospect for oil. SOCAL created a subsidiary to carry out the exploration, the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC). In 1936, the Texas Company (later Texaco) bought half of CASOC and in 1944 the company was renamed Aramco. In 1948, the two companies that later merged to form ExxonMobil joined the partnership. The Saudi government purchased the company in 1980 and, in 1988, renamed the company the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco).
Arava
Stretch of depressed land between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat.
Arava
Willow branches bound with the lulav and used during Sukkot.
Aravot
A tree named in the Torah. Two of its branches make up one of the Four Species which the Torah commands Jews hold together and wave in all directions, showing the supremacy of God.
Arbah Minim
(Heb. Four Species) Fruit and branches used to fulfill the commandment to “rejoice before the Lord” during the holiday of Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles)..
Arbeit Macht Frei
(Ger. Work Brings Freedom) Sign hung over the gates of Auschwitz by Major Rudolf Hoss, commandant of the camp.
Arbeitskommando
(Ger.) Forced labor detachment of prisoners of war.
Ard, Al-
A political group formed by noncommunist Arab intellectuals in 1959 which denied the existence of the State of Israel. It reversed this stance in order to register as a political party but it failed to run for the 1965 Knesset.
Ariel
Hebrew for lion of God, refers to Jerusalem and also the Temple.
Aristotle
Aristotle was a famous Greek thinker (died in 322 B.C.E.), a student of Plato, whose interpretation of what constitutes reality (metaphysics, ontology) and of how reality is organized was widely influential both in ancient times and in the “medieval” period of Judaism and Christianity, influenced by the “classical” period of Islamic learning. See e.g., scholasticism.
Ark
(Heb. Aron hakodesh, lit. holy chest) The cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept. The word has no connection with Noah's Ark, which is “teyvat” in Hebrew.
Armia Krajowa
(Pol.) The official Polish underground organization headed by Polish army officers during WWII and operated by the government-in-exile in London.
Armistice Agreements
Israel's War of Independence ended in July 1949 by armistice (cease fire) agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Aron Hakodesh
See Ark.
Arugat Ha-Bosem
(Heb. Garden of Spice) Commentary on liturgical poems containing much midrashic material, written in c. 1234 by Abraham ben Azriel; central Europe.
Arutz Shtayim
(Heb.) Channel Two Israeli television station (Channel 2)
Aryan
A 19th-century linguistics term used to describe the Indo-European languages. The term was subsequently perverted to refer to the people who spoke those languages, which the Nazis deemed superior to those people who spoke Semitic languages. Thus, Aryan came to describe people of "proven" non-Jewish and purely Teutonic "racial" background.
Aryanization
The expropriation of Jewish businesses, enterprises and property, by German authorities and their transfer to “aryan” ownership or control.
Ascetic (Asceticism)
(Gre. to hold oneself under control) A general term for one who follows rigorous bodily and spiritual discipline to enhance spiritual experiences and rewards. Often connected with mysticism.
Asefat ha-Nivcharim
(Heb. assembly of the chosen) Representative assembly elected by Jews in Palestine during the period of the British Mandate (1920-48)
Ashkenazi
(Ger. Jew) . Term for Jews who trace their lineage to northern Europe and who generally follow the customs originating in medieval German Judaism, in contradistinction to Sephardic Judaism, which has its distinctive roots in Spain and the Mediterranean (see "Sephardim"). Originally the designation Ashkenazi referred to a people and country bordering on Armenia and the upper Euphrates; in medieval times, it came to refer to the Jewish area of settlement in northwest Europe (northern France and western Germany). By extension, it now refers to Jews of northern and eastern European background (including Russia) with their distinctive liturgical practices and religious and social customs.
Asimon
Public telephone token.
A-social
One of several categories of people targeted by the Nazi regime. People in this category included homosexuals, prostitutes, Gypsies (Roma), and thieves.
Asorah B'Tevet
The tenth day of Tevet, which commemorates the day the Babylonians breached the Jerusalem walls during the First Temple period.
Assimilation
The process of becoming incorporated into mainstream society. Strict observance of Jewish laws and customs pertaining to dress, food, and religious holidays tends to keep Jewish people separate and distinct from the culture of the country within which they are living. Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), a German Jew, was one of the key people working for the assimilation of the Jews in the German cultural community.
Assur
(Heb. forbidden) Term used to denote something prohibited by Jewish law. (E.g. "It's assur to east milk with meat").
Assyria
Northern Mesopotamian homeland of the Assyrians, whose ancient empire conquered much of the Near East, including the kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E.
Aswan Dam
Egyptian dam designed to provide large amounts of hydro-electric power. It was initially financed in part by the U.S. and Britain with the hope of winning Egypt over to their side during the Cold War and using such influence to establish peace between Israel and Egypt. Though Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser initially agreed to Western conditions in order to receive funding, pressure to accept the Alpha Plan and seek peace with Israel led to the end of the agreement. In need of funds, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal which prompted the Suez War in 1956.
Atheism
(Gre. no deity). A general term for the position that there is no God/deity (See also agnosticism and theism).
Atlit
Detention camp established after WWII in the town of Atlit located on the northern coast of the British Mandate of Palestine, in order to house “illegal" Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe.
Atonement
(Heb. kaparah) Atonement or reconciliation between God and humanity is achieved by the process of repentance (teshuvah), seeking forgiveness and making amends with our fellow human beings. (See also Yom Kippur)
Aufruf
(Yid.) The ceremony in which a couple is called up to the Torah on the Shabbat before their wedding.
Auschwitz
Concentration and extermination camp in upper Silesia, Poland, 37 miles west of Krakow. Established in 1940 originally as a concentration camp, it became an extermination camp in early 1942. Later, it consisted of three sections: Auschwitz I, the main camp; Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp; Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the I.G. Farben labor camp, also known as Buna. In addition, Auschwitz had numerous sub-camps.
Authoritarianism
Believing in or characterized by unquestioning obedience to authority, as that of a dictator, rather than individual freedom of judgment and action.
Autoemancipation
An essay by Dr. Judah Leib (Leon) Pinsker, Autoemancipation was published in the aftermath of the pogroms that swept Russia in 1881-82. Published in 1882, it dealt with the causes of anti-Semitism and offered a possible solution for the Jews. Pinsker argued that the Jews were foreigners everywhere, and that even if they managed to assimilate, anti-Semitism would remain an incurable illness, fueled by the peculiar condition of the Jewish people, which has no language, no country and no government. The emancipation given to Jews by Gentiles was, to Pinsker, a coup de grâce. The Jews, Pinsker argued, must regain their national dignity and security and establish for themselves a land of refuge. Even more urgently needed, he argued, was a national awakening and self-liberation ("autoemancipation"), the components of the process of national renaissance. Pinsker's work became one of the basic writings on Zionism.
Autonomous Areas
Those areas of the occupied territories that were transferred to the control of Palestinian authorities following the Declaration of Principles. This includes areas of Gaza Strip and West Bank and as of 1995, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Ramalla, and Bethlehem.
Autonomy Plan
Menachem Begin presented this plan in December 1977 which to offered limited self-administration for the Palestinian residents in the Occupied Territories. It was approved by Egypt and the Knesset later on in 1977 and talks between Egypt and Israel were initiated in 1979. By 1980, Israel presented a model for the Self-Governing Authority for the Occupied Territories, which outlined full personal autonomy, and shared and residual powers which would be administered.
Av
(Heb.) The eleventh month of the Hebrew calendar (which begins with the month of Tishrei); and fifth according to the Jewish calendar (which starts in the month of Nissan). (See also "Tisha B'av").
Av
(Heb. father or father of). Used in numerous phrases and constructions, such "as av beit din" (lit. father of the house of judgment), one who presides over a Jewish court. (See also beit)
Avelut
(Heb. mourning) The year of mourning after the burial of a parent. (See also Shiva)
Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations
A tree-lined path (and forest) at Yad VaShem (the national Israeli Holocaust memorial located in Jerusalem) which memorializes those gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Averah (aveira)
(Heb.) Sin, transgression of God's will.
Avinu Malkenuh
A prayer recited on fast Days and Rosh HaShannah penned by Rabbi Akiva.
Avoda Ivrit
(Heb. Hebrew labor) Slogan adopted during the early pioneering days in the Land of Israel used to encourage businesses to only hire Jewish labor..
Avodah
(Heb.) Worship, service.
Avodah Zarah
Hebrew for idol worship or worship of anything other than God.
Avot d’Rabbi Natan
A commentary on the Mishnah tractate Avot, composed c. 500 C.E.
Avot
(Heb. fathers) Refers to the Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov.
Axis
Enemies of the Allied forces in WWII. The Axis forces originally included Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan who signed a pact in Berlin on September 27, 1940. They were later joined by Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Ayalon-Nusseibeh Proposal
Plan proposed by Israeli Ami Ayalon (former head of the Shabak- the Israeli internal security agency), and Palestinian Sari Nusseibeh (President of Al Quds University) in 2003 during the Second Intifada. The proposal called for: two states based on the pre-1967 borders, all border modifications to be based on equal territorial concessions, the West Bank and Gaza to be demilitarized and connected, all Jews to be removed from the territory that would become the future Palestinian state, Jerusalem to be an open city and the joint capital with neither side in charge of holy sites, Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return only to the Palestinian state, an international fund to be set up to provide for Palestinian refugees, and a cessation of all violence.
Az Nidberu
Paper of the Vishnitz haredim.
Azazel
A rocky cliff from which a goat was pushed to its death on Yom Kippur.
Azzam Affair
A 1996 scandal in which Israeli-Druze Azzam Azzam was arrested in Cairo on charges of spying for Israel and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2004 Azzam was released as part of an agreement between Israel and Egypt in which Israel agreed to release 6 Egyptian students charged with plotting to kill Israeli soldiers.

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