In Hebrew, ohel moed, literally, “tent of meeting.” Also called mishkan, the sanctuary which was a symbol of God’s presence among the Children of Israel. According to the Bible, the Tabernacle was built by the Israelites in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt (Ex. 25-27). It became the first sanctuary where sacrifices were offered and services were conducted by priests and Levites. Bezalel and Oholiab were the principal artists in charge of building and decorating it. The Tabernacle, a square portable tent, stood on the western side of its forecourt, pointed in the direction of the Promised Land. The forecourt was enclosed by wooden columns draped with blue, purple, and scarlet hangings. At the entrance to the Tabernacle stood the laver, a copper basin where the priests washed before they brought the sacrifices on the altar. The acacia-wood altar was overlaid with copper and had four horns. Within the Tabernacle in the Holy Place stood the gold overlaid wooden table holding the twelve shewbreads. There, too, was the seven-branched candelabra, accessible by stairs. The gilded incense altar was centered in front of the veil that hung from four gilded pillars and hid the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies held the Ark of the Covenant and the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. By day a dark cloud and by night a fiery cloud rested upon the Tabernacle. It was located in the center of the camp, and, forming a living square around it, the twelve tribes of Israel marched on their 40-year journey to the Promised Land.

When the Children of Israel settled in Canaan, the Tabernacle rested at Shiloh, almost in the center of the Land. In the time of King David, the service in the sanctuary took on a new significance as the favored center of worship. After an overwhelming victory over the Philistines, the king built a splendid new Tabernacle on Mt. Zion. Then, dancing at the head of a procession of Levites who played musical instruments, David brought the Holy Ark to its new sanctuary in the capital, and Jerusalem became the holy city in Israel. Until King Solomon built the Temple, the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion was the place of worship for the nation.


See Sukkot.


See Moses and Ten Commandments.


Twenty-second letter of the Hebrew, alphabet; numerically, 400.


Prayer shawl, usually of silk or wool, sometimes banded with silver or gold thread, and fringed at each of the four corners in accordance with biblical law (Num. 15:38). The wearing of the tallit at worship is obligatory only for married men, but it is customarily worn also by males of Bar Mitzvah age and older. Occasionally it is spread over the marriage canopy or used as a burial shroud. In recent years, some women have begun to wear tallits.


Literally, disciple of the wise. Any scholar or authority on the Talmud. For many centuries, the Talmid Hakham was respected as the social aristocrat of the Jewish community. Conversely, at the opposite end of the social ladder was the Am Ha-Aretz, or ignoramus. During the Middle Ages, the Talmid Hakham was consulted as an authority on worldly and religious affairs, even when he held no official position in the community.

Numerous pithy savings in the Talmud reflect the position of the scholar in Jewish life. Perhaps the most typical and most frequently quoted is, “Talmidei Hakhamim increase peace in the world.” Another frequent quotation mirroring the same attitude is the biblical proverb, “The learning of the wise man is a source of life” (Prov. 13:14).


Tenth month of the Jewish calendar. The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day commemorating the beginning of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.


From Aramaic, literally, “those who repeat.” Teachers and scholars of the first two centuries C.E. who set down the laws of the Talmud. They were called Tannaim because they were teachers who taught their students to rehearse the Oral Tradition, based on the Written Law of the Bible, for the purpose of memorization. The group of laws taught by a Tanna was called his Mishnah, or repetition. Among the nearly 300 Tannaim were the famous rabbis Johanan ben Zakkai, Akiba, Meir, Joshua ben Hananyah, Nahum of Gimzo, Eliezer ben Hyracanus, Eleazor ben Azaryah, and Judah the Prince. (See also Talmud.)


Classic book about Hasidism by Shneor Zalman of Lyady, the founder of the Chabad movement.


Literally, culture. After the first Russian revolution in 1917, Hebrew culture flourished among Russian Jews. An organization called Tarbut was founded and established cultural institutions, teacher’s seminaries, and schools. Tarbut published Hebrew newspapers for adults and children and contributed to the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language. However, the Tarbut movement was short-lived. As soon as the Soviet regime was established, it banned all of the widespread Tarbut activities. Tarbut organizations then sprang up in other Eastern European countries, especially in Poland and Lithuania. They made an important contribution to modern Hebrew education. On the eve of World War II, 70,000 pupils were enrolled in Tarbut schools. These were destroyed by the Nazis, together with the vast majority of Eastern European Jewry.


Literally, translation. Usually applied to the Aramaic translation of the Bible, of which the best known is Targum Onkelos. An Aramaic translation was necessary to make the Bible understandable to the large number of Jews who spoke Aramaic for many generations during and following the period of the Second Temple. Targum Onkelos is an excellent, almost literal translation. To this day, many editions of the Bible carry the Targum Onkelos, which in many instances enables us to interpret more correctly the original Hebrew text. (See also Onkelos.)


The ceremony of casting one‘s sins into the sea, observed on the first day of the New Year near a body of water. (See Rosh Ha-shanah.)


The Technion is the oldest educational institution of university rank in Israel. It was founded in 1912 by a group of far-sighted men from around the world, including K.Z. Wissotsky of Moscow, Jacob H. Schiff of New York, Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, and Dr. Paul Nathan of Berlin. The outbreak of World War II delayed the opening of the Technion until 1924. Since then its graduates have supplied more than half of the technically trained manpower for the scientific and industrial development programs of Israel.

The original institute was built at the foot of Mt. Carmel, intended to accommodate about 300 students. Today close to 9,000 students are enrolled in the Technion, the affiliated Junior Technical College, and Technical High School. A new campus, Technion City, consisting of 300 acres on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, was deeded to the school by the Government of Israel. The campus, still growing, currently consists of more than 20 buildings which include aeronautical, hydraulics, building research, soil research, and other laboratories; classroom, library and workshop buildings; and dormitories.

The Technion’s College of Engineering, with its faculties of civil, mechanical, chemical, agricultural, and aeronautical engineering and departments of architecture and town planning, currently supplies Israel with engineers, applied scientists, and high-level technicians. Its various research laboratories are engaged in solving some of the manifold problems of Israel’s pioneering economy. Since 1940, the American Technion Society has been aiding the Technion with funds and scholarships, making it possible for select graduates to come to the U.S. for a year of practical experience in American industrial plants.


Two prayer boxes with leather straps worn on the forehead and the left arm. The boxes contain four selections from the Bible (Ex. 13:1-10, 11-16 and Deut. 6:4-9, 11:13-21), inscribed on parchment, which proclaim the existence and unity of God and serve as a reminder of the liberation from Egypt. They are worn during the morning prayers on each weekday and the afternoon service on the Ninth of Ab. by Jewish males who have reached the age of bar mitzvah. Since Sabbaths and festivals are themselves “signs,” no phylacteries are worn on these days.


Largest city in Israel. In 1998, it and its twin city Jaffa had a population of more than 380,000 (more than a million in the Greater Tel Aviv area). Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, when a group of Jewish residents of Jaffa bought two stretches of sand dunes and built a garden suburb which they called Tel Aviv, after Herzl‘s Jewish utopia Altneuland. By 1914, this all-Jewish town had 1,416 inhabitants. Most of them were expelled by the Turks as “enemy aliens” during World War I. After the British occupation of the country in 1918, Tel Aviv grew swiftly. Twenty years after its founding, Tel Aviv had a population of 40,000, and was becoming the cultural and industrial leader of the country. But its expansion was greatest in the 1930’s when German immigrants arrived. Houses and streets multiplied rapidly. It became consolidated as a dynamic urban center, the heart of the country’s trade and light industry. During the chaos and terror that marked the end of the British Mandate, Tel Aviv was the center of underground activities and the defense movement operated by Haganah. In 1948, the independence of Israel was declared in Tel Aviv’s Museum, as Jerusalem was under siege. During the latter 20th century, Tel Aviv became Israel’s metropolis, a center of an intense cultural life with a considerable tourist industry. It houses Israel’s leading theaters, including Habimah, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, the new Israeli opera, and the campus of Tel Aviv University (founded in 1956), which houses the Diaspora Museum.


Founded in 1956, it has an enrollment of 27,000 and a faculty of 1,800. It is housed in an American-style campus in the Ramat Aviv suburb of Tel Aviv. One of its main attractions is the Diaspora Museum, which covers the history of the Jewish people. Its renowned research institutes engage in advanced study of cancer, heart, and 16 other medical specialties, as well as urban studies, Middle Eastern and African Studies, petroleum, space and planetary science, nature preservation, labor studies, and Russian studies. The American Friends of Tel Aviv University maintain an office in New York City.


The First Temple was planned by King David and erected by King Solomon (970-931 B.C.E.). It took seven years to build the sanctuary: its walls were made of huge blocks of granite, quarried, dressed, and dovetailed in the hills surrounding Jerusalem. On the Temple site itself, no iron tools were used because implements of war were made of iron, and the Temple was a symbol of peace (I Kings 6:7). Solomon imported Phoenician craftsmen to build it. For the Temple roof, cedars and cypresses were hewn in the forests of Lebanon, floated down in rafts from Phoenicia to Joppa (Jaffa), and then borne up, log by log, to the heights of Jerusalem. The Temple was surrounded by courts and auxiliary buildings. It had three divisions: the vestibule before which were free-standing pillars, Jahin and Boaz; the holy place containing the altar of incense, the table of the shewbread and the seven branched Menorah; and the Holy of Holies, which held only the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments. The altar for the sacrifices was in the Temple court. The services in the Temple were impressive and accompanied by singing and instrumental music. For 380 years, this shrine was the heart of the nation. To it the people went up in pilgrimage three times a year on the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The Temple was destroyed on the ninth day of Av in 586 B.C.E., by Nebuchadnezzer, King of Babylonia, who deported the people of Judah and made it a Babylonian colony.

The Second Temple was completed 70 years later by the people who had returned from the Babylonian exile. Many of the original Temple vessels, plundered by the conqueror, had disappeared. The Ark of the Covenant was gone, and the Holy of Holies stood quite empty. When the sacredness of the Temple was defiled in 168 B.C.E. at the command of the Syrian King Antiochus, the people revolted. After the Maccabean victory, the Temple was restored, but
did not reach its full magnificence until Herod rebuilt it in 20-19 B.C.E. Ninety years later, the Roman legions under Titus set fire to the Temple, again on the ninth day of Ab, and left it a heap of ruins in 70 C.E. Since then, the day of the destruction has been remembered by Jews with fasting and prayer. Historic events are mentioned as having occurred “in the days of the First Temple” or “in the time of the Second Temple.”


According to the Bible, the divine laws, in Greek known as Decalogue, spoken by God to Moses and written on two tablets of stone (Ex. 20:2-14and Deut. 5:6-18). They are the highest laws in Judaism and the source of all Jewish law and ethics. Christianity and Islam also have accepted them. The Ten Commandments cover the whole religious and moral life of humanity. They teach the unity of God and prescribe the fundamental ways of behavior among people.


See Lost Tribes.


See Martyrs, Ten.


With close to 20,000 Jews, 8,500 live in Memphis, 5,750 in Nashville, 1,650 in Knoxville, and 1,350 in Chattanooga. There are Jewish congregations in those cities, as well as in Jackson, Johnson City, and Oak Ridge. Organized Jewish life began in the state in 1845, first organized in Nashville and Memphis.

Literally, return, turning away from sin and back to God’s teachings. In the Bible, the prophets urge the people to return to God. In the Talmud, teshuvah becomes a central Jewish concept, beginning with repentance and culminating in divine forgiveness. The ten days between Rosh Ha-shanah and Yom Kippur are called the Ten Days of Repentance.

See Old Testament.


Ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerically, nine.


Of the over 100,000 Jews who live in the state, 42,000 live in Houston, 35,000 in Dallas, 10,000 in San Antonio, 6,400 in Austin, 4,900 in El Paso, 5,000 in Ft. Worth, with smaller communities in the rest of the state. The first known settler was Samuel Isaacs, who went to Austin in 1821. Later, Jews settled in Galveston, and by the 1850’s German Jews had settled in Houston. Reform Judaism became the popular movement in the state, with Conservative Judaism in second place. Jews have been active in state affairs.


According to the Bible (Exod. 34:6-7), God has several attributes of mercy and forgiveness, which rabbinic tradition considers to be thirteen, although the logic for this number is not clearly explained.


According to Maimonides, Jewish faith consists of 13 principles, as follows: God’s existence; God is one; God has no physical appearance; God is eternal; God is the only one to be worshiped; God’s word was revealed through the biblical prophets; Moses is the chief prophet; God’s law was given at Mount Sinai; the Torah is eternal and irreplaceable; God is aware of human action; God rewards good and punishes evil; God will send a messiah; the dead will come back to life.


City on the Sea of Galilee (Kineret), famous for its healing hot springs. It was built by Herod Antipas in 18 B.C.E. in honor of the reigning Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar. Notwithstanding its pagan origin and alien style of architecture, it soon became Judaized. In the 2nd century C.E., after the failure of Bar Kokhba‘s revolt, the Sanhedrin moved to Tiberias, where the Mishnah and Masorah were edited. During the following centuries, Tiberias attracted many pilgrims and scholars as one of the four Holy Cities and as the burial place of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes and Maimonides. In 1560, Don Joseph Nasi, a Marrano from Spain, received permission from the Turkish sultan to rebuild Tiberias as a Jewish agricultural and industrial center. His project failed, however, and Tiberias lay in ruins until 1740, when the Bedouin sheikh Daher el Omer restored the city with the help of Rabbi Aboulafia of Izmir. Today, as in ancient times, it is the economic center and metropolis of Lower Galilee and Israel’s principal health resort and spa.


First month of the Jewish civil calendar. It is during this month that the High Holidays occur.