Founder of the Karaite sect, which rejects the authority of the Talmud and bases its beliefs on the Bible only. A sharp quarrel broke out between Anan and his younger brother, Hananiah (Josiah), over the office of “Prince of Exile.” The Jewish leaders supported Hananiah’s appointment, and it was duly confirmed by the Caliph of Baghdad. When Anan protested he was arrested. While in prison he made the acquaintance of the prominent Moslem theologian Abu Hanifah, who advised him to declare himself leader of a new religious sect. Anan did so, and as a result he was freed.

In 770, Anan wrote the Sefer ha-Mitzvot, or “Book of Commandments,” which became the basic text for the new sect. By recognizing Jesus and Mohammed as prophets he won the friendship of both Christians and Moslems. The members of his sect, originally called Ananites, came to be known as Karaites from the Hebrew Karaim or “[strict] readers of Scriptures.” Anan died in 800, but his sect exists to this day. (See also Karaites.)


Mal’ach in Hebrew. The Bible mentions angels as spiritual beings, ministering to God and appearing to men on special missions. Angels came to Abraham to predict the birth of a son, and to Lot to warn him of the imminent destruction of Sodom. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder “set up on the earth, and the top of it reached the heaven.” Similarly, an angel appeared to Moses “in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush.” Descriptions of angels are to be found in Isaiah, where they have six wings, and in Ezekiel. They are powerful, wise, and holy, but are subject to the will of God and obey His command. While the Book of Daniel names only the angels Michael and Gabriel, Talmudic and Midrashic literature mentions names of many angels, each one performing a specific task. In Jewish tradition a special place is occupied by the Angel of Death, the ministering angels who give praise to the Lord, and angels appointed to guard the nations of the world.


A philan­thropic organization of English Jews, with branches throughout the British empire. Shortly after being founded in 1871 in conjunction with the Alliance Israélite Universelle, it dissociated itself from the French organization. The Association aims to help Jews everywhere to “obtain and preserve full civic rights,” “to protect those who suffer for being Jews,” “to foster education of Jews particularly in the Middle East,” and “to support the upbuilding of Israel.” The Anglo-Jewish Association has contributed greatly to the support of Jewish schools throughout the Middle East (including Palestine) and in Shanghai. It worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews until 1946.


Leader of Warsaw ghetto uprising. In 1943, at the height of Nazi terror, the Warsaw ghetto was populated by 40,000 Jews; 460,000 had been systematically exterminated. Unless drastic action was taken, the survivors would be led like sheep to slaughter. The Jewish underground resolved at that moment to rise in open rebellion against their murderers.

A 24-year-old member of the Labor Zionist movement, Anielewicz chose to stay in Poland after Nazi occupation. Traveling from ghetto to ghetto in fear of his life, he spent the first four years of the occupation training young men in self-defense units.

Under Anielewicz’s able and inspiring command, the ghetto factions were welded into a single fighting force. During the Passover holiday of 1943, the ghetto fighters lashed out against their oppressors. For two weeks the poorly armed and heavily outnumbered “army” battled against the air and tank divisions that had been called in to quell the uprising. At the end of two weeks the ghetto stood no longer. Its defenders lay dead in the rubble. Among them was Anielewicz, and by his side as always was Mira, his wife.

The heroism of these defenders is commemorated in a massive monument erected at Yad Mordecai, a kibbutz in Israel named after Mordecai Anielewicz.


Formerly Dropsie College, the Institute was founded in 1907 in Philadelphia by Moses Aaron Dropsie, and became one of the institutions of higher Jewish learning in America. It is a non-sectarian, non-theological postgraduate institution, specializing in the science of Judaism. It offers courses leading to degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education, and Master of Arts. The Institute consists of three divisions: the interrelated Hebrew and Semitic studies in the Department of Hebrew and Cognate Learning; the School of Education, with parallel courses in New York City; and the Institute for Israel and the Middle East, which trains qualified personnel for government, social, and educational agencies in the U.S. and Israel. The Institute issues a number of scholarly publications, including the Jewish Quarterly Review. It was reorganized in 1986 and given its present name.

ANNENBERG, WALTER H. (1908-2002).

Leading American publisher and philanthropist, who gave $365 million to four schools. Publisher of TV Guide, Annenberg served as U.S. ambassador to England from 1969 to 1975.


Launched by B’nai B’rith in 1913, in the aftermath of the lynching in of Jewish businessman, Leo Frank, ADL was founded in 1913 to combat antisemitism. Its mandate was “to end the defamation of the Jewish people…to secure justice and fair treat­ment for all citizens alike.” The agency has grown into an international organization, headquar­tered in New York City with 30 regional offices in this country, a European office in Paris and Vienna, an Israel office in Jerusalem, affiliated offices in Latin America and Canada, and a consultant in Rome.

Both at home and abroad, the agency combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and dis­crimination, counteracts anti-Israel propaganda; alerts government officials and the public to threats to the democratic process. strengthens interfaith friendship and understanding; and works generally in behalf of Jewish concerns and interests.

In seeking “fair treatment for all citizens,” the agency has fought successfully against quotas barring Jews and other minorities from schools, jobs, and housing. Today, still dedicated to a system of merit, ADL opposes the reverse discrimination in­herent in the use of racial quotas as the criteria for access to employment and education.

ADL enlists the support of international public opinion in speaking out against oppression of Jews in the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and elsewhere, and condemns terrorist acts directed against Jewish communities in Western Europe. It also advocates the security of Israel and supports the peace process. It prepares an­nual audits of incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence.


See Maccabees.


The hatred of Jews. Probably, the oldest known form of bigotry, its purpose  is to use the Jews as scapegoats for a non-Jewish people’s problems. The purpose of antisemitism in its active political phase is to degrade the Jews by removing their civil, political, social, economic, and religious rights, and finally, as in the instance of the Nazis, by exterminating them. Jews are not the only people considered “Semites,” but the term “antisemitism applies exclusively to them. It was first used used in Germany in 1879, in a pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr ­titled “The Victory of Judaism Over Germanism.”  That same year, Marr founded the Antisemitic League. Of course, Jew hatred existed long before the use of the words antisemitism and antisemite. In the story of the biblical Book of Esther, Haman makes use of many of the classic techniques of antisemitism—libel, false accusations, and discrimination—to gain his ends. After the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome in 137 C.E., the emerging Christian religion rapidly developed strong antisemitic attitudes. As Christianity came into power in the Roman Em­pire, a dark age of antisemitism began for the Jewish people. Increasingly, Jews lost their civil and other rights, and oppression became widespread.

The Middle Ages. The Middle Ages was a period of discrimination, violent persecution, and expulsions for Jewish people, acts that are antisemitic in origin. There were some relatively good periods, beginning in the 7th century when Pope Gregory the Great actively opposed antisemitic violence. From that time until the beginning of the Crusades in 1096, the situation of the Jews in Christian Europe was tolerable. But the Crusaders, on their way to the Holy Land, “revenged” themselves upon the Jews, killing thousands of men, women, and children in pogroms. Jews were blamed for having started the Black Death, a plague which killed off millions of people in Europe beginning in 1348. The result was more bloody backlash against Jews.

 The Middle Ages did not end for the Jewish people until the end of the 18th century, when the spread of enlightenment, scientific knowledge, and democracy brought the break­down of ghetto walls and the beginnings of more objective judgment and equal op­portunity for Jews. Nevertheless, organized and individual antisemitism remained everywhere—less in France, England, and the United States, but more in Germany, Austria, and especially in Poland and Russia. The pogroms which erupted in Russia beginning in 1881 brought 2.1 million Jews to the New World by 1910.

 The Protocols of the elders of Zion. The most potent piece of antisemitic literature in the flood of hate-books and pamphlets which have appeared in the last century is undoubtedly the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. First pro­duced in 1901 by Sergius Nilus, a Russian mystic, as an adaptation of a satire of Napolean III by Maurice Joly of France, it was rapidly printed and distributed in various languages in Europe and later in the U.S. The Protocols claim to be the strategic plans made by the World Zionist Congress in 1897 for the Jewish conquest of the world. Despite repeated public proof that they were forgeries, the circula­tion of the Protocols continues in Arab countries and some other countries.  The most detailed history of the forgery is Hadassa Ben-Itto’s The Lie That Wouldn’t Die

 The most fateful outbreak of antisemitism in history occurred in Germany between 1933 and 1945. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party rose to ab­solute power in that country on a plat­form based on antisemitism. Since Jews were to blame for Germany’s problems, Hitler argued, the only solution was to exterminate them. Hitler and his followers almost succeeded. During World War II, six million Jews were killed by starvation, disease, “special killing actions,” and ultimately by the gas chambers, which murdered many thousand as day.  Some, Poles, Hungarians, Latvians, and others joined the Nazis in this massacre.

Antisemitism in the United States. The history of antisemitism in the U.S. may be simply charted. The first overt case of public antisemitism in the U.S. occurred in 1862, when General Ulysses S. Grant issued his notorious General Order No. 11, banning Jews from his army area. (This order was quickly revoked by President Abraham Lincoln.) The next major incident occurred in 1877, when it was learned that Jews were not welcome as guests at the largest hotel in Saratoga, N.Y. Through the years, until World War I, there was much subtle discrimination of Jews—in hotels, clubs, colleges, and jobs—but little organized antisemitism.

  A Board of Delegates of American Israelites was formed in 1859 to fight for Jewish rights. It never achieved great prominence, and in 1878 merged with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The most active Jew in Washington dur­ing this period was Simon Wolf, who advised the Presidents on Jewish problems.

 In 1906, the American Jewish Committee was formed to provide for the increasing need for activity to fight antisemitism and to secure equal rights for Jews. Later, other organizations joined this movement: the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, local Jewish community councils, and the Na­tional Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council.

The most public case of antisemitism in the interim between the World Wars involved automobile magnate Henry Ford and his infamous newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, which reprinted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and carried on an active antisemitic campaign. After he was sued for libel in 1927, Ford apologized in a public letter to Louis Marshall, recalled all copies of the Dearborn Independent, and never again allowed himself to be involved in antisemitic activity.

 During the Nazi period, the German government sponsored widespread antisemitic propaganda and activity in the U.S. Most vocal and vicious, the German-American Bund achieved a fairly large membership, at least in the Yorkville section of New York. It was joined by organizations and individuals like the Silver Shirts of William D. Pelley, Gerald Winrod’s organization, Father Charles Coughlin of the Christian Front, Gerald L.K. Smith, and many others. They achieved a measure of success despite efforts by Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and persons  and persisted until the outbreak of World War II.

Between 1945 and 1968, memories of the Holocaust limited organized antisemitism in the U.S. to a “lunatic fringe.” Also, the rise and achievements of the State of Israel helped transform the image of the Jew in society. By the 1960’s American Jewry felt sufficiently secure to take a leading role in various social and civil rights causes. Many Jews participated in “freedom marches” and similar demonstrations for Black rights.

 Following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, part of the Black community became openly hostile to whites, especially Jews, who were accused of being slum landlords and ghetto store owners who created poor Blacks’ credit problems. Moreover, the goal of the Black militant movement was “national liberation,” and as such it allied with similar movements, including the so-called “Palestine Liberation” movement. From about that time, anti-Zionism became a convenient cover for a new antisemitism. In 1975, a United Nations General Assembly resolution formally declared that “Zionism is a form of racism,” Even though the resolution which was rescinded after its major proponent, the Soviet Union, fully collapsed in 1991, that view of Zionism still fuels antisemitism today.

 In addition to this, since the 1960s in general, a rhetoric of Holocaust Denial has emerged worldwide, starting in Europe and spreading to other parts of the world. Many western intellectuals have come out presenting what they called scientific proofs that the Holocaust did not occur, or at least not a nearly to the immense proportions widely known today. Such rhetoric continues to be produced by political figures and groups who insist that the Holocaust was used conveniently to push the Zionist agenda, while the specific agenda of these persons stays basically antisemitic.

 Theories of Origin. There are many theories about the origin of antisemitism. One is religious conflict, the traditional Christian dislike for Jews because they rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah (see Messianism) and, some allege, were responsible for his crucifixion. Many persons consider this historic fabrication to be the chief source of antisemitism. Another theory maintains that this hostility is due to the fact that Jews have remained a minority refusing to give up its exclusive identity and community.

 Neither of these theories provides a complete answer to this complicated question. Scientists have worked out some ideas to explain the basis of hatred and bigotry. They have found that unhappy, emotionally insecure people tend to be intolerant. Their feelings of inferiority breed hostility within them. They join groups through which they vent their feelings on other people, who then serve as scapegoats for their problems. Probably, antisemitism is the result of a combination of religious, social, and psychological reasons.

 Antisemitism Today. The latest political manifestation of Holocaust denial emanated in 2006 from Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in addition to denying the Holocaust called for “wiping Israel off the map.”  In France, many attacks on Jews, mostly by Muslims, have taken place.  Latent antisemitism has surfaced in other parts of Europe like Hungary as well. Antisemitic rhetoric is common among Muslim clerics and in Muslim school textbooks. In short, the virus of antisemitism keeps reappearing wherever a grievance against Jews, real or imagined, exists.

ANTOKOLSKI, MARK (1843-1902).

Russian sculptor. Born in the city of Vilna, Antokolski chose the career of sculpture against the wishes of his orthodox parents. After studying in St. Petersburg and Berlin, he moved to Paris. His statue of Ivan the Terrible made him famous at the age of 28. He made life-size statues of such thinkers as Socrates and Spinoza, as well as fine portrait busts (among his sitters was the aged novelist Count Leo Tolstoy). Well known is his Christ Before Pilate: with bowed head and bare feet, Jesus, a Jewish peasant, stands before his unseen judge. For his earliest work, The Jewish Tailor, made in high-relief, he received a silver medal. It shows a lean old craftsman in cap and gabardine, sitting cross-legged in the window of his tiny shop, holding his needle against the light to thread it.


Rabbinical term meaning skeptic or heretic, derived from the name of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, whose students argued against Judaism.


Books written during the time of the Second Temple and shortly after its destruction (ca. 200 B.C.E.-100 C.E.). These books describe future events through extraordinary and symbolic images and visions. Many parts of the Bible, such as the first chapters of Ezekiel and Daniel, contain apocalyptic references. Parts of the Apocrypha belong to this group, including the Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Apocalypse of Baruch, Psalms of Solomon, Book of Adam and Eve, Assumption of Moses, and others. Most of these books were created in times of danger and stress. They are full of mystic visions, prophesying Judgment Day and the coming of the Messianic Age.


From the Greek apokryphos, meaning “hidden, not recognized”; a series of books written during the last centuries B.C.E. and excluded from the Bible when the canon was set up ca. 90 C.E. Several of the Apocrypha were written at a later date. Some of them were written in Greek, and all were generally modeled after a book in the Bible. They compromise wisdom books such as Ben Sira, poems, such as the Wisdom of Solomon, and prayers such as that of Manasseh. The two historical Books of the Maccabees, as well as such instructive stories as the books of Tobit, Judith, and Susanna, are a part of the Apocrypha. In the Book of Judith, the heroine rescues a whole city from a besieging Assyrian army by killing its general, Holofernes. Also among the Apocrypha are prophecies or revelations of the unknown, called Apocalyptic writings. None of these books equals the Bible’s grandeur of ideas or beauty of writing, and many of them were lost and forgotten by Jews. Some survived only in Greek and were included by the early Church Fathers in the Catholic Bible.

APPELFELD, AHARON (1932-2018).

Leading Israeli author who survived the Holocaust as a child. His novels, dealing with Holocaust themes, are considered the finest of their kind in Hebrew literature. In 1983, he was awarded the Israel Prize, and his autobiography, The Story of a Life: A Memoir, won France’s Prix Médicis in 2004.


The Arabs are peoples living throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They speak various Arabic dialects and are for the most part of the Islamic faith.

Jewish and Arab tradition hold that the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael, son of Abraham. In ancient times there were several small but highly developed kingdoms in the Arabian peninsula. Most of the Arabs, however, were camel breeding nomads. Those mentioned in the Bible probably wandered northward from Arabia and lived on the fringe of the Jewish settlement in Palestine. The early Arab kingdoms fell into decay in the first centuries of the common era. It was only with the religious revolution of Mohammed in the 7th century that the Arabs emerged as a major force.

Scion of a wealthy merchant family, Mohammed declared himself the prophet of “the only true faith.” Known as Islam, this religion centered around Allah, the “one true God,” but accepted the religious writings of both Christians and Jews. Its prophets included Abraham, Moses, the biblical prophets, Jesus, and Mohammed. Mohammed believed it was his duty to convert humankind to Islam. To this end, he began a series of “Holy Wars.” Leading an army of fierce desert warriors, he and his successors conquered the entire Middle East from Egypt to Central Asia. Later, North Africa and Spain were brought under Islamic rule. The pagan people of the conquered countries were converted to Islam, taught the Arabic language, and made subjects of a single Arab empire.

At that time most Jews lived within the Arab empire. When both persuasion and persecution failed to shake their faith, the Arab rulers were forced to evolve a policy of some tolerance. Jews were generally accepted as second-class citizens. But this legal definition of their status did not put an end to persecution. Fanatic Moslem sects led the occasional violent outbursts of hatred which often led to massacres. On the whole, however, Jews were much better off in the Islamic world than in Christian Europe. Though they continued to study Hebrew, Arabic became their spoken tongue. They came and went freely in the markets of the east.

By the 10th century, Jews were important in the international trade flourishing from Spain to India. There were Jewish bankers, ministers, generals, and doctors at most Moslem courts. In addition, the Jewish community remained fairly independent, and the community head had an honored place in the government of the Caliphs.

Golden Age of Judeo-Arabic Culture. Especially distinguished during this era was the cultural life of the Jews. Between the 7th and 10th centuries the Arabs evolved one of the greatest civilizations in history. In addition to the development and study of their own religion, Arab scholars had worked fruitfully in the fields of philosophy, poetry, language, history, geography, medicine, astronomy, and other branches of science. Speaking Arabic and mixing freely with Arab scholars, Jews contributed to all these fields of learning. More important, they developed a culture of their own, based on their ancient traditions and on the research of their Moslem neighbors. In Babylonia, the heads of great Talmudic academies continued the work of their predecessors in interpreting the Jewish law. Saadiah Gaon, head of the Jewish community in Babylonia during the 10th century, not only translated the Bible into Arabic, but also published studies in philosophy, poetry, religion, and law. In the following century, the center of Jewish life shifted to Spain, and a series of brilliant figures participated there in creating the “Golden Age” of Jewish history. At this time, Maimonides, a physician by profession, was one of the great masters of philosophy. His great works include a codification of Jewish law and a justification of the Jewish religion in terms of ancient Greek philosophy. The greatest achievements of the Golden Age, however, were not in philosophy, but in poetry. Living in both Christian and Moslem Spain, such poets as Judah Ha-Levi, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, and Moses Ibn Ezra created some of the most beautiful poetry in the Hebrew language. Their poems treat religious and secular subjects in forms derived from classical Arabic verse. They were all learned in science and philosophy and masters of classic Arabic prose as well as Hebrew and Jewish lore. Other poets and scholars in Babylonia, North Africa, and Tunis contributed to the flowering of Jewish culture.

The Golden Age of Judeo-Arabic culture came to an end with the decline of the entire Arab civilization in the 13th and 14th centuries. At that time, barbarian rulers gained domination over most of the Islamic empire. In the course of that period, the center of Jewish life passed from the shores of the Mediterranean to Europe proper. Many Jews continued to live on the shores of the Mediterranean but ceased to play a vital role in Jewish life. Until the rise of Jewish nationalism at the end of the 19th century, Mediterranean Jews lived as a subject people among their Arab neighbors who were under the dominion of foreign powers.

The Modern Arab Revival. The 19th and 20th centuries, which have witnessed the return of the Jews to Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state there, have also seen a negative change in Arab-Jewish relations. The Arab states, which were created after the defeat of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire in World War I, have firmly opposed the return of the Jews to their homeland. This opposition flared into open warfare in 1948, when the armies of five Arab nations invaded the newly-declared State of Israel. Despite four successive defeats on the battlefield, the Arabs did not accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state for more than 30 years. Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 finally signed peace treaties with Israel.

Today, there are two opposite trends in the Arab world regarding Israel. On the one hand, extremist Muslim groups and regimes in the Arab world refuse to recognize the Jewish State, and even seek its destruction. On the other hand, some more moderate Arab regimes like Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, and Jordan show readiness to make comprehensive peace with Israel and normalize relations between Israel and the Arab world.


A group of Semitic languages, known as Chaldaic in their most ancient form. The earliest surviving form of Aramaic dates ca. 900 B.C.E. The Assyro-Babylonian and Persian empires absorbed this language, and since Aramaic was closely related to Hebrew, it was picked up by the Jewish exiles in Babylonia in the 6th century B.C.E. When they returned to Judea, Jews brought the Aramaic tongue home with them. By 300 B.C.E. it was used in daily life, and many prayers were chanted in Aramaic. Aramaic was also the language of trade and diplomacy in the whole Middle East. Isolated portions of the Bible (Dan. 2:46, Ezra 4:8-6:18, 7:12-26, and Jer. 10:11) are written in a West Aramaic dialect. This is also the language of the Palestinian Talmud (except for the Mishnah, which is in Hebrew) and of the Midrashim. Aramaic is the language of the Babylonian Talmud and of an authorized translation of the Bible known as Targum Onkelos. Aramaic is the language of parts of the Siddur, or prayer book, of the Kaddish, and of a section of the Passover Haggadah, beginning with the words “This is the bread of affliction.” The Had Gadya (One Little Goat), the popular song sung toward the end of the Passover Seder, is also in Aramaic.


Mountain in northern Armenia, landing place of Noah’s ark in the biblical narrative (Gen. 8:4). Also a city planned on Grand Island, Niagara, N.Y., by Mordecai M. Noah in 1825.


Literally, four corners. A rectangular vestlet covering the chest and back, with ritual fringes, or tzitzit, attached to its corners, in remembrance of the biblical command that Jewish males wear a fringed garment (Num. 15:37-41). It is also called a tallit katan, or little tallit.


A triumphal arch overlooking the Roman Forum, built to celebrate the Roman victory over Judea after three years of bitter fighting from 67-70 C.E. On one of its inner panels the artist carved a scene from the triumphal procession of the victorious Roman legions. Soldiers crowned with laurel leaves are shown carrying the sacred objects they had plundered from the Temple in Jerusalem before destroying it. Their figures lean forward, straining against the weight of the golden table, the holy ark, the seven-branched menorah, and the musical instruments of the Levites. For centuries, Jews in Rome would walk long distances to avoid passing this memorial.


The scientific study of the material remains of the past. Long before the time of the Greeks, who first coined this term, people had been digging up the past, unearthing hidden passages to burial chambers, and passing on the oral history of much earlier generations.

In the 7th century B.C.E., Assurbanipal of Assyria was proud of his ability to decipher writings on ancient clay tablets, and sent his scribes far and wide to collect copies of early records and documents for his wonderful library at Nineveh. Nabonidus, who ruled Babylon in the 6th century B.C.E., made exploratory excavations in the age-old Ziggurat, or temple tower, which loomed up at Ur, the birthplace of Abraham. He read the foundation records of its ancient builders, and carefully carried out restorations, as told in his own inscriptions. The daughter of Nabonidus shared her father’s interest and maintained a small museum in which objects of great importance were kept. Similarly, a royal commission was appointed by Rameses IX of Egypt to examine the physical condition of ancient tombs and pyramids. This interest has remained unabated through the ages.

Modern archeological research emerged a little more than 150 years ago, and has ingeniously awakened the ancient past. Buried for thousands of years in clay tablets, papyri, scrolls, and inscriptions, long forgotten tongues have now been deciphered and revived. Whole cities and settlements have been found arranged one atop the other, forming artificial mounds, or tel in Hebrew. These mounds have been carefully excavated, sliced down like a layer-cake to reveal as many as seventeen different levels of culture. Objects of all types, secular and religious, have been found in the ruins of each layer. Even shards of pottery have been picked up and carefully restored. The styles and shapes then provide clues for dating other objects found on the same level. Charts of pottery vessels of almost every age and geographical area are available and as indispensable for the archeologist as the stamp album for the stamp collector.

Archeology uses both strict scientific methods and the latest technology: electronics, aerial photography, X-rays, and radio carbon. For example, X-rays penetrate the wrappings of Egyptian mummies, locating the exact positions of jewelry and sometimes determining the cause of death. Radio-carbon is used to determine the exact age of all organic matter.

The development of archeology has been made possible through the teamwork of scholars and experts of many different nations and religious backgrounds. Each group, with its own motivation, enables us to see more vividly the world of the Bible, the text which the great prophets preached and from which sprang Judaism and Christianity. On the other hand, Israelis study the Bible and biblical archaeology to obtain new and important knowledge of the land which they are now reclaiming and on which they plan to build a great future.

Every child in modern Israel is an amateur archeologist. Knowing the Hebrew Bible almost by heart, and equipped with maps and archeological guide books, children hike the length and breadth of their historic land, identifying ancient places and ruins, and recognizing the flowers, plants, and animals natural to that region.

In 1948, the young Israeli general Yigael Yadin was able to surround an invading Egyptian army by following an old Roman road in the Negev known to him from his studies in biblical archeology. Nelson Glueck, a famous Jewish scholar conducting a series of explorations in the Negev, has proven that hundreds of towns and settlements thrived in antiquity in an area which has for many centuries been the great wasteland of southern Palestine. He likewise unearthed King Solomon‘s copper mines and refineries near Elat, the port at the northern tip of the Red Sea. There he found that the ancient Israelites had anticipated some of our most modern methods for refining metals.

Daring military archeologists have reopened the ancient fortress of Masada, high in the rocks of the wilderness of Judah. Until recently, this legendary stronghold, famed for the last stand of the Zealots in the desperate war against the Romans in 70 C.E., could be seen only by aerial photography. Now the labyrinth of underground passages has been laid bare, revealing implements and vessels of all types, with interesting inscriptions or graffiti on the walls. Masada has become one of the great national shrines of the State of Israel.

In 1965, Yigael Yadin reported the discovery of part of the Hebrew original of the Apocryphal Book of Jubilees in Masada.

At Wadi Muraba’at near the Dead Sea, several stratified grottoes were found to contain, amidst a mass of other relics, some coins and a number of dated personal documents from 2nd century C.E. Written on papyrus and crude leather in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, these documents include a letter by Bar Kokhba, the leader of the last Jewish revolt against the Romans in 132-35 C.E. In this letter bearing the signature of Simeon ben Koseba, his authentic name, the rugged Jewish general warns his chief of staff, Joshua ben Galgola: if Galgola will not follow instructions regarding the prisoners of war and the requisitioning of private property, Bar Kokhba will fetter his legs with chains, as he has previously done to another disobedient subordinate. In 1959, an Israeli archeological expedition assisted by army helicopters uncovered another Bar Koseba letter in a cave at Nahal Heber in the Judean Desert.

The archeological findings of Israel may not be as spectacular as the Pyramids of Egypt or some of the other great monuments of the past. They do, however, shed light on the greatest and most enduring spiritual monument ever created, the Hebrew Bible, and on the subsequent history of its creators.

After the Six-Day War, extensive excavations were begun in many parts of the country, especially in the vicinity of the Western Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem. The discoveries in Jerusalem have been breathtaking. Artifacts dating back to the First Temple were discovered. Entire streets, markets, and homes were found underground, revealing facets of life during the time of King Solomon and King Herod, as well as the Byzantine, Crusader, Mamluk and Turkish periods. One such spectacular discovery is the Cardo, the Roman and Byzantine “shopping mall,” which has been reopened and once again features real-life shops. Another find is a silver amulet with the Priestly Benediction, dating back to the 7th century B.C.E., one of the oldest Hebrew biblical texts ever found. (See also Dead Sea Scrolls.)

ARENDT, HANNAH (1906-1975).

German-American political thinker. An authority on totalitarianism and Nazism, her views on Jewish behavior during the Holocaust caused great controversy.

ARENS, MOSHE (1925- ).

MIT educated, Arens moved from the U.S. to Israel in 1948 to teach aeronautical engineering at the Technion in Haifa. A member of Likud, he served as ambassador to the U.S., and later as defense and foreign minister.


Republic in southeastern South America. The first Jews arrived with early Spanish settlers in the 16th century. They were Marranos, forced converts who practiced their religion in secret. By the time of Argentina’s liberation from Spain in the early 19th century, the Marrano community had vanished. The earliest modern community was set up in 1868, but regular immigration did not begin until 1891. In that year Baron Maurice de Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association (I.C.A.) to encourage the settlement of Jews upon the land. Swelled by waves of immigrants, the community grew from 1000 in 1890 to almost half a million at one point.

Most of Argentina’s Jews live in Buenos Aires and other urban centers. About half are engaged in trade, with businesses ranging from tiny shops to huge commercial establishments. A large percentage are workers in the leather, furniture, and garment industries. Many have entered the professions. Jews have played an especially important role in the economic life of the country. Among the ideas introduced by Jewish merchants were installment and direct sales, and the organization of cooperatives for both buying and selling. Within the Jewish community there are many cooperative banks, as well as cooperative business undertakings.

For many years, agriculture played an important part in the life of Argentinian Jewry. The first independent Jewish farm settlement was founded in 1899 by refugees from Russia. Other settlements were established and aided by the Jewish Colonization Association (I.C.A.). By 1940, there were 28,000 Jewish colonists on the pampas (farm regions) of Argentina. This was one of the largest Jewish farm communities in the world. Owing to the decline of the farm economy under the dictatorship of Juan Peron and to the tendency for children of settlers to move to the cities, the farm community has dwindled dramatically. Already by the last half of the 20th Century, the vast majority of Jews, members of the middle class, lived in urban centers, particularly Buenos Aires, and was engaged in business.

Buenos Aires, the capital of the country and home of most, has been one of the world’s leading centers of Yiddish culture. With Yiddish daily newspapers, weeklies, and numerous other periodicals, it has been a great center of Yiddish publishing. Hundreds of Yiddish writers, artists, musicians, and scholars lived in the city.

The Jewish Community of Buenos Aires, known as the Kehilla, is a truly unique organization. With its large membership, it has handled all aspects of communal life for the Jews of East European origins


There were few Jews in Arizona in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Only in recent decades has their number increased to nearly 83,000 in Phoenix, the capital, and 21,500 in Tucson. Those two communities have Jewish communal institutions. The Arizona Jewish Post is published in Tucson, the Jewish News in Phoenix.


See Synagogue.


According to tradition, the Ark contained the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. In ancient times, the Ark, carried by priests, led the people to battle. The Bible tells us that, when the Ark moved forward, Moses cried: “Rise up, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” According to legend, the Ark was hidden under the Temple at the time of the Babylonian exile. The second Book of Maccabees relates that the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark on Mount Nebo, where it would remain until the coming of the Messiah. A Holy Ark found in every synagogue contains the Torah scrolls used in the services. The Ark traditionally faces east, toward Jerusalem. It is opened on special occasions when certain solemn prayers are recited. Great attention has been given to the structural beauty of the Ark, usually the most decorative part of the synagogue.


The Jewish community dates back to 1838. Only 1600 Jews live in Arkansas, mostly in Little Rock. Among the distinguished native sons of Arkansas is Cyrus Adler.


Zionist political and labor leader. Born in the Ukraine, Arlosoroff spent his youth and received his education in Germany. In 1924, he settled in Palestine and plunged immediately into its Labor Zionist movement. He became the movement’s political expert a year later at the age of 25. A brilliant young man, he was elected in 1931 to serve on the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine where he assumed charge of the Agency’s political work. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Arlosoroff was sent to Germany to negotiate with the Nazis. Since it was Nazi policy to expel Jews from Germany, Arlosoroff undertook to work out an agreement permitting as many Jews as possible to leave for Palestine, where the Jewish community was eager to receive them. After preliminary negotiations with Nazi leaders, Arlosoroff returned to Palestine where he reported to the Jewish leaders and to the British officials. But before he could resume negotiations, Arlosoroff was shot by an unknown assassin while walking with his wife on a Tel Aviv beach. The man convicted in the act was later released by a higher court, and it was never officially determined who fired the fatal shot on that June evening in 1933.


While Jews are considered primarily the “People of the Book,” Jewish artists, craftsmen, and architects abound throughout history. While the Second Commandment forbids the creation of graven images which can be worshiped in the pagan manner, its ban does not apply to architec­ture and so-called “applied arts.” The Book of Exodus describes in glowing terms the beauty of the Tabernacle, fashioned by Bezalel and Oholiab, but no part of it has survived. Excavations in Israel have, however, unearthed the remains of lavishly decorated palaces and other buildings dating back to the time of the Kings. Nothing remains of the magnificent temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem. Of the imposing temple erected by King Herod only a few fragments have been found. We can, however, see beautiful mosaic floors in ancient synagogues built after the destruction of Herod’s Temple, and the superb frescoes in the ruins of a small synagogue at Dura Europos on the Euphrates river in Syria.
Jews were famous in antiquity for gold­smithery. In the Middle Ages, however, arts and crafts flourished among Jews who were free from oppression for long periods in Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, and some Moslem countries in Asia and Africa. Jews were highly esteemed as dyers, lacemakers, bookbinders, and cartographers. They minted coins for Christian and Muslim rulers. Toward the end of the Middle Ages a pope for­bade Jewish smiths to manufacture Christian ceremonial objects, such as goblets and crucifixes, and barred them from binding Christian religious books.

From the Middle Ages to the Emancipa­tion, Jewish art was mainly ritual art for synagogues and home. The Torah Scroll was written—and sometimes illuminated, or ornamented—by special sofrim, or scribes. Some Hebrew Bibles had beautifully ornamented pages; others were provid­ed with initials illuminated in gold and with full-page miniatures showing biblical figures such as Adam, David, and other heroes. The Passover Hag­gadah lent itself to illustration more than any other book, as it was used not in the synagogue but at home, and religious restrictions imposed on the artist were not so severe.
The Torah mantle, generally of silk or velvet, was skillfully embroidered by pious women. Little religious art older than 400 years has come down to us. Among the exceptions are some Hanukkah lamps of brass from North Africa and Italy, probably the work of Jews. As a rule, the Christian guilds of Europe had a monopoly only over the works in the precious metals, gold and silver. The superb ritual silver objects of the 17th and 18th centuries are the works of Gentiles. While the Jewish patron gave a general description to the Christian craftsman on the construction of a par­ticular object, he did not mind if it was executed in the style of the period, whether Renaissance, Baroque, or Rococo.
Before the Emancipation, few Jews, mainly those converted to Christiani­ty, became painters and sculptors. Things changed in the 19th century, when western European art schools and academies opened their doors to all willing students. Some Jewish artists gave up their ties to Judaism, making art their religion. Jews took the lead in the fight against the old romantic and historical schools, introducing realism, open-air painting, and an appreciation of art’s social role.
These artists produced mainly portraits and land­scapes, or worked in wood, metal, or stone like their Gentile colleagues. Until about 1900, it was rare to see Jewish artists occupied with themes related to Judaism. The Russian Jewish sculptor Mark Antokolski and the Dutch Jew Joseph Israels represent the dichotomy of pursuing Jewish and universal themes. The Sephardic Jewish artist Camille Pissarro greatly influenced impressionist and post-impressionist art. There were some, though, who tried to translate the messages of the Jewish faith, the spirit of the holidays, and the great historical tradi­tions into pictorial terms. Maurycy Gottlieb became famous for his Yom Kippur painting.

Everything changed in the 20th century. Jewish art, as well as art created by Jewish artists, proliferated around the world. In Paris, the so-called  École Juive, or Jewish School, of painters and sculptors produced world renowned artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, and Jules Pascin. Of the great sculptors of the century, Sir Jacob Epstein of England, and Jacques Lipschitz of Europe, later the U.S., are among the best known.

Jewish artists in the U.S. have had a major influence on nearly all aspects of 20th century American art. Some, like Ben Shahn, pursued both Jewish and universal themes, particularly those related to social justice. Another example is Raphael Soyer, who depicted the downtrodden. Other leaders in innovative art were Mark Rothko, post modern abstract painter; Alexander Calder, famous for mobile sculpture; original pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Jim Dine; Malcah Zeldis and Morris Hirshfield, two uniquely styled painters; and Art Spiegelman, comic artist, famous for his Pulitzer Prize winning comic memoir Maus.

In Israel, art officially begins at the start of the 20th century with sculptor Boris Schatz, who founded the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. In the pre-state era, artists such as Reuven Rubin and Nahum Gutman sought to create styles that reflected renewed Jewish life in the Middle East, laying the groundwork for Israeli art. Today, artistic activity in Israel, in nearly all forms, is vigorous and widespread. It encompasses not only painting and sculpture, but also ritual objects, original jewelry, posters, stamps, and other objects in fabric, metal, and stone. Artist colonies thrive in Safed, Ein Hod, Jaffa, and Jerusalem, to mention a few. Among world renowned Israeli artists are Yaakov Agam, known for his kinetic and optic art; Israeli-born Moshe Safdie, a world-class architect famous for his habitat; and Shalom of Safed (Moskovitz), whose biblical and Jewish tradition themed  paintings are a leading example of Israeli art.



See Fast Days.


See Ashkelon.


A regimen of self-denial to help one avoid temptations and distractions that hinder spiritual development. The Nazirites and Rechabites of the Bible, who abstained from wine, were ancient examples of asceticism. Rechabites also refrained from living in houses and dwelt in tents instead. In the time of the Second Temple there was an ascetic sect called the Essenes. Fasting frequently or eating very little, wearing rough clothing, avoiding company, doing without money, these were practices among the ascetics. The growing influence of the Zohar and the Kabbalah during and after the Middle Ages, plus the increasingly difficult conditions of Jewish life, furthered asceticism. A practice favored by many ascetics was “putting oneself in exile.” The ascetic would leave home and family for a time, in order to appreciate more fully the exile of all Jewry. Jewish authorities such as Maimonides allowed limited asceticism for short periods, but opposed it as a way of life. A familiar ascetic figure was the matmid, one who devoted his days and nights to Torah study and allowed no other interests to distract him. The Mussar movement, which began in Lithuania about 1850, had ascetic leanings. But it placed less emphasis on self-inflicted suffering and more on the examination of the conscience as a means of self-improvement.

ASCH, SHOLOM (1880-1957).

Outstanding Yiddish novelist and dramatist. Asch spent his early youth in the small town of Kutno, Poland, where he received a traditional education. At the turn of the century he dedicated himself to literary work in Yiddish and Hebrew. One of his idyllic novels of the Jewish small town, Dos Shtetl, attracted great attention. His later plays and novels revealed him as a keen observer and vivid portrayer of Jewish life. Almost all of his important works have been translated into English and other languages: Motke the Thief, The Three Cities, Salvation, Uncle Moses, The Song of the Valley, and many other contemporary and historical novels and stories.

Asch has treated a wide range of subjects, including the saga of Jewish struggles and achievements in Europe, the U.S., and Palestine. He has caught the spirit of the revolutionary changes of our times; in his historical novels he has glorified Jewish martyrdom and piety. Some of his works based on New Testament figures, such as The Nazarene, are considered highly controversial. Two of his last novels portray the biblical figures of Moses and Isaiah. Asch lived for many years in the U.S., settled in Israel in 1956, and in October 1957, died while visiting London.


4,000-year-old port on coast of Israel. Neglected over the centuries, it now has a deep-water harbor, the largest in Israel. The town, now populated by about 200,000, is rapidly expanding through the growth of such industries as an electric power plant, a rayon factory, and an assembly plant for heavy vehicles.


Literally, happy or blessed. Eighth son of Jacob. The tribe of Asher was allotted territory from the Carmel and the lower Kishon plain as far north as the Phoenician capital of Sidon. Asher never captured Acco and Sidon from the Phoenicians, but settled largely in the Plain of Jezreel. Isaiah called their territory Galil ha-Goyim, “the district inhabited by many nations”; hence, this area came to be called Galilee.


Pagan goddess, distinct from Astarte (i.e. Ashtoreth, or Ishtar). Also refers to objects representing the goddess. Infamous for having been worshipped by Jews who reveled in idolatry, and denounced vehemently by many Hebrew prophets, most of all Jeremiah, she was considered to be the queen of heaven and wife of Baal.


Ancient Mediterranean port; one of the Five Towns of the Philistines. A modern Israeli city and resort area with about 140,000 residents, it has been developed with the aid of the South African Zionist Federation.


See Music.


Literally, Germans. The name was applied to Jews of Germany and Northern France beginning in the 10th century. In the middle of the 16th century, the term Ashkenazim came to include Jews of Eastern Europe as well. The Ashkenazim have developed a set of distinctive customs and rituals, different from those of the Sephardim, that is, Jews from Spain, Portugal, Mediterranean countries, and North Africa.

ASIMOV, ISAAC (1920-1992).

American scientist and author, considered to be the father of the science fiction genre. He wrote 100 books trying to become the first person to publish a book for every classification of the Dewey decimal system.


In rabbinical tradition, an evil spirit or demon.


Throughout Jewish history, Jews have tended to “assimilate,” adopting the language, manners, and customs of their neighbors, wherever they lived. At the same time, they continued to live a full Jewish life, producing great Jewish individuals and uniquely Jewish books. Individual Jews have left the Jewish community for other groups, but the bulk of the Jewish people has maintained its identity.

While the Jews lived in ghettos in medieval and post-medieval Europe, the ghetto walls protected them from assimilation. As the ghetto walls started to come down in the late 18th century, Jews began to discover a new world around them and soon learned that to achieve full equality they would have to conform to the general culture. A new movement, the Haskalah, or the Enlightenment, emerged, seeking to adapt to the European culture while remaining Jewish. During the French Revolution, French Jewish leaders agreed with the French liberals that the ultimate aim for Jews was to disappear completely as a national group. When Napoleon convened his Assembly of Jewish Notables, or French Sanhedrin, these Jewish leaders assured the emperor that first and last they were Frenchmen of Jewish descent.

In Germany, the Haskalah started when Moses Medelssohn translated the Bible into German. This translation introduced its Jewish readers to the German language, which opened the door to European culture. The generation that followed Mendelssohn used this culture to escape from the ghetto; in their headlong rush, large numbers were lost from Judaism altogether. Having adopted the German culture and way of life, they expected to be accepted into the “brotherhood of man.” Instead, they discovered that full citizenship and social and economic advancement were possible for Jews only after baptism


The Ashur of the Bible. The North Mesopotamian empire of the city of Asshur stretched along the fertile plain on the upper Tigris River and included the towns of Kalchu and Nineveh. Assyria became a great empire after 1300 B.C.E. when it extended southward and ruled Babylon for a short period. Its drive westward continued for the next eight centuries until it controlled the whole Mediterranean coast and Egypt. The first direct conflict between Israel and Assyria occurred around 854 B.C.E., when King Ahab together with the ruler of Damascus fought King Shalmaneser III of Assyria at Karkar. Among the great rulers of this empire who figure disastrously during the next two and a half centuries in the history of Israel and Judah are Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assurbanipal. King Sargon defeated Israel, destroyed its capital, Samaria, and deported the flower of Israel’s population to Mesopotamia and Media. The history of Assyria as an independent empire came to an end when the Babylonians and the Medes took Asshur in 616 B.C.E. and Nineveh in 612 B.C.E, destroying them both.


The Bible contains a number of references to the heavenly bodies, their motions and appearance. God told Abraham to look toward the heavens and count the stars “if thou be able to count them


In the Bible (Ex. 21 and Num. 35), a place where an accidental killer could find refuge from the revenge of the deceased person’s relatives.


This capital of Greece had Jewish residents by the 1st century C.E. Even before this time the Athenians had voted a gold crown to the high priest Hyrcanus, and later to the Herodian kings and to Princess Berenice, in gratitude for the kindly treatment of Athenians in Judea. There were many Athenian proselytes and semi-proselytes. The Talmud has a number of stories about “the wise men of Athens.” In Byzantine and Turkish times Athens decayed, and few Jews lived there. In 1830, when after Greece’s liberation the first king was German, German Jews followed him to Athens. Sephardim from Greece and Syria, as well as Russian Jews after World War I, increased the Jewish community. During the persecution in World War II, many Athenian Gentiles hid Jews from the Germans. After the war, survivors and remnants from other Greek Jewish communities moved to Athens. In 2007, approximately 3,000 Jews, less than half of Greek Jewry, lived there.


See Yom Kippur.


See Sports.


Nazi Concentration Camp located near Oświęcim, a Polish town in southwestern Poland. It was a gruesome Death camp, where over one and a half million were killed, including over a million Jews.  Upon arrival, most people who were not selected to work were immediately murdered, mostly by poison gas. (See also Holocaust.)


Organized Jewish life in Australia began in 1828, when Jews in Sydney formed a congregation. At that time, the Jewish population numbered 300. As the colonization and settlement of Australia continued, Jewish settlement proceeded apace, and soon there were organized congregations in the principal cities of Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth in western Australia. Most of the early Jewish immigrants came directly from England. Jewish immigration to Australia was spurred by the activities of the Montefiore, Levi, and Lazarus families, influential British Jews active in the economic development of the British dominion. Later, Australia was a haven for refugees fleeing Nazi tyranny, absorbing more Jewish immigrants in proportion to its pre-1938 Jewish population than any country except Israel. Since then, Australia has seen several influxes of Jews, such as from Egypt, following the political crisis in 1956 (see Israel), and from Iraq, in 1969. The next large immigrant group, Jewish people from the former Soviet Union, began arriving in the 1990s. Melbourne alone has a population of approximately 25,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union. Today, there are about 100,000 Jews in Australia, most of whom live in six major cities, with 50,000 in Sydney and 45,000 Melbourne. Organized in 1944, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry represents the entire Jewish community, serving as its mouthpiece on civil rights, welfare, and community status. Recent years have seen a reawakening of religious life, as well as increased interest in Jewish education. The Zionist movement is active and well organized, with close links among the various Zionist councils and local education boards of the Jewish schools. A number of Jews have played an active part in Australian life, including Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first Australian-born Governor General, and Sir John Monash, who commanded the Australian Expeditionary Force in World War I. Three Jewish weeklies in English and two in Yiddish are published in Australia, in addition to numerous monthlies and organizational publications.


Jews in Austria constituted an important community in Europe, with traces going back to the 9th century. Their history is a series of immigrations and expulsions and a constant struggle for existence. In 1421, about 210 Jews were burned to death by the order of the Vienna Edict, while the rest were driven out. Gradually, they returned, but in 1670 there was another expulsion. At that time, a number of individual Jews were permitted to return to Austria on the condition that they would not form any congregation. Among these “privileged Jews” was Samson Wertheimer, rabbi and banker to the court. In 1782, Emperor Joseph II issued his Edict of Toleration, which revoked many anti-Jewish regulations, but was opposed by Orthodox Jewry because of its interference in religious and cultural affairs and its hidden aim of compulsory assimilation.

Following their participation in the 1848 revolutions, the Jews enjoyed a short-lived period of liberty. In 1867, they attained equal political rights, which they enjoyed until the Germans occupied Austria in 1938.

Jews contributed greatly to the development of Austrian economics, science, art, literature, and media. In purely Jewish matters, they were influenced by eminent scholars whose books were accepted by Jewry throughout the world. Vienna had the largest Jewish community in Austria. Others were located in Graz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Wiener-Neustadt and the Burgenland area.

The close of the 19th century witnessed the growth of the Zionist movement, due in no small measure to the fact that Theodor Herzl made his home in Vienna and served as literary editor and correspondent for the influential newspaper Die Neue Freie Presse. World War I brought many Jews to Austria from Galicia and Hungary; many remained after the war and exercised a strong influence on Jewish life in Austria. The Anschluss with Germany marked the beginning of the end for Austrian Jewry in March 1938. At that time, when Austria enthusiastically welcomed the German occupation, the Jewish population numbered 185,246. About 178,000 Jews lived in Vienna. By the end of World War II only 7,000 Jews remained: about 128,000 had fled the country, and about 50,000 were annihilated by the Austrians and Germans, many of them in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

There are approximately 9,000 Jews living in Austria, most of them living in Vienna and Graz. A majority of Jews who live in Vienna are registered with the Vienna Kultusgemeinde, central agency of the Austrian Jewish community. Postwar efforts of the community centered around negotiations for restitution and compensation of losses suffered under the Nazis. The Austrian Jewish community has had to contend with a resurgent antisemitism. Provisions for Jewish education have been lagging because of the dispersal of the children and their small numbers. Aided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is extremely active in relief and welfare work in Austria, the Kultusgemeinde maintains a Hebrew school, several Talmud Torahs, and a credit cooperative.

Bruno Kreisky, Jew, liberal reformist, and politician dedicated to human rights, served as Austrian chancellor in 1970-1983. Kreisky opposed Zionism as panacea to the problems of the world’s Jews; he cultivated friendly relations with Arab leaders; and had tense relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and other Jewish figures.

Ronald S. Lauder was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as Ambassador to Austria in April 1986 and served until October 1987. During his tenure, Lauder forged strong diplomatic bonds between the U.S. and Austria, while personally repudiating the Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, for Waldheim’s involvement with the Nazi party during World War II.

Austrian Jews have contributed immensely to world thought and culture. Famous Austrian Jews include Sigmund Freud, the revolutionary psychoanalyst and thinker; Gustav Mahler, world-famous composer, and writers Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Werfel, Stefan Zweig, Jakob Wassermann, and famous Viennese Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

AUTO-DA-FE (ca. 1481-1810).

Portuguese, meaning act of faith. Tragic and justly infamous ceremony; climax of a heresy-hunting investigation by the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal. Those condemned as heretics were led to public penance or execution, the latter usually by being burned at the stake.

The auto-da-fe took the form of a procession through the main streets of the city to the public square, usually in front of a church. It was led by hooded monks who were followed by the hapless prisoners. Those condemned to death carried lit candles, wore a pointed cap on their heads and a tunic called the san benito upon which the “crimes” of the victims were inscribed and various diabolic symbols were painted. Priests, monks, and soldiers brought up the rear of the procession.


Eleventh month of the Jewish civil calendar. (See also Calendar and Fast Days.)

A trespass or sinful act; opposite of mitzvah. The term does not include sin in general, but was applied to sins committed against one’s friend or against God. Judaism believes that man is not born with original sin, but rather, possesses the power of free will: “I have set before you life and death


See Ethics of the Fathers.


Sixteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, numerically, seventy.


Scholar and author. Azulai, known by his initials as Hida, traveled extensively throughout Europe. He was sent by the Jewish community in Jerusalem to gather funds for the poor scholars in the Holy Land. Azulai had received a thorough training in Talmud and Kabbalah and was endowed with a keen historical sense. He utilized his travels to visit famous libraries and to gather valuable information for his most important work, Shem Ha-Gedolim, in which he listed 1,500 scholars and authors and more than 2,000 books written from Talmudic times to his own day.