Aliyah: literally, ascent; the term for immigration to Israel, which is a step up in Jewish and Zionist terms


Altneuland: literally, old-new land; novel  Theodore Herzl wrote in 1902.


Am Yisrael Chai: literally the Jewish people live, a popular affirmation and now classic song


Ashkenazi:  Ashkenaz is the area roughly in modern day Germany and France which was a center of Jewish living and learning a thousand years ago; more broadly, Ashkenazi refers to Jews of European descent.


Bet HaMikdash:  the Holy Temple, built during Solomon's reign in the 10th century BCE


Betar: from Brit Trumpeldor, literally, the covenant of Josef Trumpeldor; the Revisionist Zionist youth movement established by Ze’ev Jabotinsky


Bilu:  an acronym from the Biblical verse bet ya'acov lechu u'nelcha, house of Jacob, arise and go forth,  one of the early pioneering movements to Israel that sprang up in 1882 after pogroms.


Birthright Israel: in Hebrew Taglit,  program to send 18 to 26 year old Jews from all over the world on a free trip to Israel to build Jewish identity and ties to Israel.


Bundism:  Jewish movement founded in 1897 emphasizing secular ethnic and socialist values.


Camp David:  American presidential hideaway where Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin reached an agreement in 1978, and where Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak failed to come to terms in 2000.


Chalutzim:  pioneers, the early Zionists who built the state's infrastructure a century ago.


Diaspora: literally, the dispersion, the term for Jews who live outside of Israel.


Emancipation:  the movement in the 18th and 19th centuries to give Jews equal rights as citizens in European countries

Enlightenment: a broad intellectual movement from two and three centuries ago to modernize Europe, which helped modernize European Jewry as well through the Haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment movement


Entebbe: the capital of Uganda, where in 1976 Israeli commandoes rescued Jews held hostage in a terrorist hijacking.


Eretz Yisrael: the land of Israel, the Hebrew name for the homeland.


Erev Shabbat: literally the Sabbath eve, Friday night.


Galut: Exile, the pejorative term emphasizing that Jews outside of Israel are not simply dispersed but banished.


Green Line: the border marking the line between Israel before 1967, and after, sketched with a green pencil.


Gush Emunim: literally, the Bloc of the Faithful; messianic settlers' movement that was very influential in creating many settlements, and for energizing Religious Zionism.


Habonim:  the builders, the social Zionist youth movement.


Halachah:  literally, the path to follow; Jewish law.


Hamas: radical Palestinian terrorist group responsible for many suicide bombs


Har HaBayit: The Temple Mount, literally, the mountain of the House, the house in question being the House of the Lord, the Temple in Jerusalem.


Haredim:  Hebrew for those who tremble; the term used for Ultra-Orthodox Jews.


Hashomer Hatzair: the Young Guard, a radical socialist Zionist youth movement.


Hasmonean: the dynasty established by the Maccabees after the victory in 165 BCE we now celebrate each Hanukkah.


Hasidim: the devout ones; an 18th century populist Jewish reformation movement in Poland emphasizing piety, intensity, joy and devotion in the service of God.


Hatikvah: literally the hope, the Jewish national anthem referring to the 2000-year longing for Zion.


Intifada: literally means the “shaking off” in Arabic, the uprising; what the Palestinians call the outbreak of anti-Israeli violence in the late 1980s, then returned with greater ferocity in September, 2000


Kehillah: the community, the formal communal organizations that ran Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere for centuries.


Kibbutz: the collective farm settlements established a century ago that symbolized Zionism’s radical reach and ambition.


Kotel: the wall, the Western Wall, the sole supporting wall remaining from the Holy Temple


Knesset: the Israeli parliament

Lech Lecha: literally, “Go out,” the start of the phrase in Genesis 12 in the Bible where God sends Abram to Israel


Maskil: an enlightened one, but quite literally a thinker of the Haskalah


Masada: the desert fort where Jews withstood the Romans and chose martyrdom rather than surrendering in 73 CE.


mitzvah, mitzvot: literally, commandment or commandments, the good deeds and obligations dictated to Jews in the Torah


Mizrachi:  Religious Zionist organization


Mizrahim: a more recent term for Sephardim, mostly Jews of African and Middle Eastern descent, who come from the East, the Mizrah.


Oslo Accords: Agreement negotiated in Norway in 1993 establishing a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, derailed after 2000.


Palestinian Authority: the entity Oslo created to govern the Palestinians in the territories.


Palestine Liberation Organization: Yasir Arafat's terrorist organization which pushed the Palestinian cause onto the world's agenda.


Partition: literally, division; the term for the 1921 and 1947 divisions of territories between  Arabs and Jews.


Pogrom: government approved mob attacks against Jews in Russia and Poland


Sanhedrin: the ancient council of Jews, which Napoleon reconvened in 1806.


Shabbat: the Sabbath.


Shavuot: the Feast of Weeks, celebrating receiving the Torah at Sinai.


Sephardic: most literally Jews of Spanish origin, but it today encompasses mostly Jews of African and Middle Eastern descent.


Settlements: Israeli communities and outposts established for civilians in the territories controlled since 1967.


Shaliach: an emissary, a representative sent from Israel to work with Jews


Shulchan Aruch: literally, the set table, the compendium of Jewish law edited by Joseph Caro in Safed in 1555.


Six Day War: 1967 war wherein Israel captured/liberated  the West Bank, the Golan, Gaza, the Sinai, and reunited Jerusalem


Talmud: the extensive commentary on the Mishna which is the commentary on the Torah


T'fillot: prayers

Tzahal: Hebrew acronym for IDF, the Israel Defense Forces

UN Resolution 242: Security Council resolution after the Six Day war calling for peace in exchange for some territory.


UN Resolution 338: resolution after the Yom Kippur War reaffirming 242 as a framework.


West Bank: the area to the East of Israel captured in 1967, also known as Judaea and Samaria


Yerushalayim:  Jerusalem

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav: Jerusalem of Gold.


Yeshiva: seat of learning, a school where you learn Torah


Yom Ha'atzmaut: Israel Independence Day


Yom HaZikaron: Israel's memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks


Yom Kippur War: the 1973 Arab surprise attack which began on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar


Zionism: the movement of Jewish nationalism which assumes that the Jews are a people and not just a religion, with ties to their particular homeland,  Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, and that Jews had collective rights to establish a State on that homeland in 1948 – and now work to perfect it.

Glossary of Terms