Glossary beginning with A

Aaron

Brother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon.

Synonyms: Aharon
Abba

Father

Synonyms: Aba
Abigail

One of David's wives and a prophetess, known for her cleverness and beauty. She has the longest continous monologue of any woman in Hebrew scripture. Her Hebrew name is Avigail.

Synonyms: Avigail
Abraham

Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham.

Synonyms: Avraham, Avram
Adam

 Adam is the first human being created by God. Symbolizes: Creation, humankind. 

Afikomen

The broken half of the middle matzah, hidden by the leader of the seder and ransomed back by the children. The seder meal cannot be completed without the return and eating of the afikomen as the desert.

Agunah

Traditionally, only a Jewish man can initiate divorce proceedings. Hence an agunah is a woman whose husband has refused her a divorce. She is unable to remarry, though he is permitted to, and any future children she has would be considered mamzerim (a legal category of persons who may not marry except among themselves).

Synonyms: aguna
Al Chet

''For the sin ...'' – the litany of sins for which Jews ask forgiveness during Yom Kippur services.

Synonyms: Al Het
Aleynu

Prayer proclaiming God’s kingship, said near the conclusion of the prayer service.

Synonyms: Aleinu
Aliyah

Lit. Ascending

Being called up to recite the blessing before and after a Torah reading. Also, a term used upon moving to Israel (i.e., making aliyah)

Synonyms: aliya
Amidah

Lit. Standing

One of the central prayers of the Jewish prayer service, recited silently while standing.

Synonyms: amida
Aron Kodesh

Lit. holy ark

The ark or cabinet in which the scrolls of the Torah are kept. Often, an aron kodesh is richly decorated.

Synonyms: Aron haKodesh
Asarah b'Tevet

The Fast of Tevet falls on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tevet. This public fast marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Some also mark this as a memorial day for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Synonyms: Asara B'Tevet
Ashkenazi

Jew of Eastern European descent. The term also refers to the practices and customs associated with this community, often in contrast to Sephardic (Southern European) traditions.

Synonyms: Ashkenazic