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GLOSSARY

Ashkenazim
Originally descendants of Medieval Rhineland Jews; later referring to all Central and Eastern European Jews

Blood Libel
The claim that Jews murder Christian children for the purpose of using the blood in baking matzos

Conversos
Spanish Jews who converted to Catholicism

Diaspora
Greek origin word referring to the dispersion of an ethnic people; first used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint); most commonly refers to Jews living outside of Israel

Gaon, Gaonim (pl)
Title of heads of academies

Halakha
Collective body of Jewish law, including Biblical, Talmudic, and rabbinic law, plus customs and traditions

Haskalah
Hebrew term for “enlightenment”

Pale of Settlement
Area of western Russia where Jews were permitted by Czarist Russia to settle permanently

Pogrom
Violent riot or mob attack on a minority community, particularly attacks on Jewish communities in Russia during the 19th and 20th centuries

Sephardim
Descendants of Iberian Jews

Septuagint
Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, produced in Alexandria about 200 BCE

Shulchan Arukh
Collected table of Jewish laws and customs

Talmud
Compilation of rabbinic discussions and decisions on law, customs, and prayer; most frequently refers to the Babylonian Talmud, produced at the academies in Mesopotamia in the period 220 to 600 CE

Tanakh
The Hebrew Bible. The name is an acronym of the three sections of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (Five Books of Moses), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)

YHVH
Hebrew letters yud-heh-vav-heh. The unpronounced four letter name of God; “Adonai” (my God) is substituted when reading Torah

Yiddish
Language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, a combination of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages; written in Hebrew alphabet