A to Z of Judaism

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

From Aaron To Ashkenazi

Aaron
Born three years before his brother Moses, Aaron acted as spokesman for him and was also made the first High Priest. His descendants retained the priesthood after his death, aged 123.

Abraham
One of the three patriarchs of the Jewish people. He recognised the existence of one God as a young child. Aged 99, he became the first Jew to undergo brit milah. A year later his and Sarah’s son Isaac was born.

Achashverosh
The foolish king of the Purim story and ruler over the vast Persian Empire. Married to Vashti until he ordered her death; subsequently more happily married to Queen Esther.

Adam
The first man, formed by God out of the dust of the earth on the sixth day of creation. Lived in the Garden of Eden until tempted by his wife, Eve, to taste fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Father to Cain, Abel and Seth.

Adar
The 12th month of the Jewish year, during which the festival of Purim falls.

Adon Olam
Eleventh century poem recited everyday at the end of the Shabbat morning services.

Afikomen
A Greek word translating as dessert. Refers to the half piece of matzoh put aside during the Pesach seder to be eaten as the last part of the meal.

Aleph-bet
The Hebrew alphabet.

Aliyah
Literally translates as “going up”. To “get an aliyah” refers to a man being called up to make a blessing over the Torah during the reading on Shabbat and some weekday morning services. To “make aliyah” refers to immigration to Israel.

Antiochus
The villainous Greek ruler of the Chanukah story. He looted the Temple in Jerusalem and made Jewish practice illegal, but was eventually defeated by the Maccabee rebellion.

Ark/Aron Hakodesh
The cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept in a synagogue.

Ashkenazi
Refers to Jews of European origin.

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