• Anti-Semitism

    Hatred of the Jews. Anti-Semitism has taken many forms throughout the centuries, from historic villains like Haman and Antiochus, to religious oppression by Christian and Muslim governments, to the horrific explosion of Nazism in the early 20th century. The term “Anti-Semitism” was coined in Austria in the 19th century and specifically refers to Jews as a racial group, rather than as a religion.

  • Abraham Joshua Heschel

    One of the greatest rabbinic figures of the 20th century, whose wide ranging writings meditate on the meaning of faith blended the traditions of Hasidic thought with contemporary philosophy and an overriding concern for social justice. His most important works include God in Search of Man, The Prophets, and The Sabbath.

  • Akiva

    The greatest rabbi of the Talmud, who only began studying at age 40. He was martyred by the Romans in 135 CE, following the disastrous Bar Kochba Revolt, which he supported.

  • Baal Shem Tov

    The founder of the Hasidic Movement, which revolutionized Jewish life and thought with its focus on personal prayer, spirituality, and joy. He lived in Ukraine from 1698-1760.

  • Beit Ha-Mikdash (The Temple)

    The Temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish worship and sacrifice in ancient times. The first Temple was built by Solomon in 10th century BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Temple was rebuilt in 515 BCE and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

  • Deicide

    The charge that the Jews killed Jesus, which was used to justify fear and hatred of Jews over many centuries, and was officially repudiated by the Catholic Church by Vatican II in the 1960s.

  • Diaspora

    The condition of living outside of one's native land. Significant portions of the Jewish People have lived outside of Israel since the 6th century BCE.

  • Hillel

    One of the earliest rabbinic figures, who taught in the 1st century BCE, and was famous for teaching that the essential message of the Jewish Tradition is: “What is hateful to you, don’t do to others—the rest is commentary.”

  • Isaac Luria

    Luria, often referred to as “ha-Ari”, the Lion, was a mystical figure who lived in the Northern Israeli city of Tsfat in the 16th century. His complex doctrine includes an alternate Creation story, in which the world is created through a explosion of God's light, and the purpose of existence is to re-collect and liberate the hidden sparks of God that exist throughout the Universe.

  • Joseph Karo

    The 16th century author of the Shulchan Aruch, still the most authoritative code of Jewish law.

  • Rambam (Maimonides)

    1135-1204 CE. The greatest Jewish legalist and philosopher of the medieval period, author of the Mishneh Torah and the Guide for the Perplexed.

  • Rashi

    The greatest commentator of the Tanakh and the Talmud, who lived and wrote in 11th century France. Jewish texts are almost always studied together with Rashi’s comments.

  • Shoah

    The Hebrew word for the Nazi genocide of the Jewish community of Europe during WWII. Many prefer this word, which means “destruction,” to the more common word “Holocaust,” which originally refers to a “burnt offering.”