Literally, teaching. Though originally Torah may have applied only to the Ten Commandments and later to the Pentateuch, it was from an early period employed as a general term to cover all Jewish law, including the vast mass of teachings recorded in the Talmud and other rabbinical works. This latter literature was called Oral Torah, or Tradition, as opposed to Written Torah, or Written Law. To the pious Jew, both Torahs are sacred and inviolable. The Torah guided God in the creation of the world, says the Talmud, and if people were not to observe it, the universe would cease to exist.


Orthodox Jewish educational agency whose aim is to found yeshivot, or Hebrew day schools. These yeshivot provide religious and secular studies under the same auspices in the Jewish communities of the U.S., particularly in small towns and suburban communities. It was founded in 1944 by Rabbi Feivel Mendlowitz. At that time only seven of the 33 day schools in the U.S. were situated outside of New York.

In the 1980’s there were 516 Hebrew day schools located in 37 states and five Canadian provinces. Of these, 254 were located outside of the New York Metropolitan area. In the New York area there were 209 schools. There were 150 high schools functioning in the U.S.

Torah Umesorah tries to maintain high standards in existing yeshivot through curriculum study and evaluation, supervisory visits by staff members, and regular consultation with principals and boards of education. It also carries on a program of teacher placement and interviews. Other activities include publication of textbooks coordinated with the school program, including the children’s magazine, Olomeinu (Our World), and the organization and maintenance of a network of parent-teacher groups affiliated with the National Association of Hebrew Day School Parent-Teacher Associations.

During the past few years, Torah Umesorah has been concentrating upon the training of teachers. It conducts such programs in five major seminaries, and has its own teacher-training program called Aish Dos, the “Fire of Faith.”


See Tam, Rabbenu.


See Talmud.


Chartered in 1970, Touro College opened in 1971 with an enrollment of 35 students. Under the direction of its founder and president, Dr. Bernard Lander, Touro developed into a major institution which includes the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology; the School of Health Sciences; the School for Lifelong Education, and the Touro Law School. Touro College offers separate Men’s and Women’s Divisions with campuses in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

TOURO, JUDAH (1775-1854).

Philanthropist. Born in Newport, R.I., where his father was a cantor, Touro was educated in Boston by his uncle, Moses Michael Hays. Touro prospered as a merchant in New Orleans, amassing a huge fortune which was distributed at his death to causes in the U.S. and Jerusalem. When a Universalist church was foreclosed and sold at auction, Touro bought the property and returned it to its congregation. His name is honored in many places, notably in the Touro Synagogue at Newport, which was named a national religious shrine in 1947.


See Babel, Tower of.


See Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of and Zionism.


One of two trees specified in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis. Eating its fruit resulted in eternal life.


Zionist pioneer leader, soldier, and founder of the pioneer movement Hechalutz. He was born in Russia and had little contact with Jewish life. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 where he lost his left arm in the siege of Port Arthur, and was decorated four times for conspicuous bravery. He emerged from the army with the unheard of distinction of being the only Jewish officer in the Tsar’s forces. However, the wave of pogroms against Russian Jewry turned him into a Zionist, and he went to Palestine as a pioneer. With one arm he learned to till the soil in the settlement of Degania.

At the outbreak of World War I, he organized the Zion Mule Corps to fight on the side of the British against the Turks. He served as captain in the Gallipoli Expeditionary Force. The record of bravery of the Corps was helpful in organizing the Jewish Legion in 1917. Meanwhile, when the Tsarist government fell, Trumpeldor returned to Russia hoping to organize an army of 10,000 Jews to lead over the Caucasus and Anatolia to Palestine. The Bolshevik Revolution broke out, and his plan failed. Instead, he organized the young Zionists of Russia in the Hechalutz pioneer movement and succeeded in getting a group of them out of Russia. Back in Palestine he turned to self-defense work. At the end of World War I, the borderline between Syria and Palestine was unsettled. Three small Jewish settlements were in this disputed area. The British and French forces had withdrawn, and Metulla, Ayelet Hashachar, and Tel Hai lay exposed to the bands of hostile Bedouins. Trumpeldor realized the importance of defending these settlements and holding them within the boundaries of Palestine. With a small band of men and women, Trumpeldor defended the area and was killed in battle. The area he fought for remained part of Israel. In the history of the State of Israel, he was the first Jewish hero of modern times, a model for the new generations of Jews willing to risk their lives for their land.


Hebrew poet. Together with Chaim N. Bialik, he was one of the two leading modern Hebrew poets. Tschernichowsky’s education did not include Talmudic training, but the Bible left a deep impression upon him, as did Greek philosophy and culture. He became a practicing physician in St. Petersburg and continued this work after he settled in Palestine.

Tschernichowsky’s poetry is distinguished by a vigorous sense of beauty and a closeness to nature. His idylls, or pastoral poems, possess wonderful charm and humor. They reflect the wholesome and happier phases of Eastern European Jewish traditional life. His sonnets are works of art, skillfully designed and executed.

Tschernichowsky identified himself with the Jewish national revival. He wrote some of his first poems on the Palestine landscape and its historical themes. In addition to his original works, he made a great contribution to Hebrew letters by outstanding translations of Homer, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Goethe, Longfellow (Evangeline and Hiawatha), and many other great writers.


Literally, the 15th day of Shevat, known as the “New Year of Trees.” It marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and in ancient times people thought of it as the day in which sap begins to flow again in the trees. Before the Jews were driven from their land, it was celebrated with the festive planting of saplings. This custom has been revived in modern Israel, and is joyously observed in a land that centuries of neglect have denuded of green things. In the Diaspora, Tu Bishevat was also celebrated by eating such Israel fruits as figs, dates, and “boxer,” the fruit of the carob tree.


See Music.


See Music.


The Jewish community of Tunisia dates back to the destruction of the Second Temple. Since that time the settlement has felt the yoke of both Muslim and Christian domination in a history marked by alternating periods of peaceful development and bitter persecution. Tunisian Jews knew their darkest days under Spanish domination from 1535 to 1575, but they also felt the lash under Moslem leaders. Despite their hardships, Tunisian Jewry maintained the Jewish tradition intact. During the 18th century, Tunisia became an important seat of Talmudic learning. A bright era began in 1881, when France assumed the protectorate over the country. Jews received equal citizenship rights along with Muslims and, for the first time, were permitted to enter the fields of commerce and industry. The Alliance Isra


When the Ottoman Empire replaced the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century, it found Jewish communities with origins dating back to Roman times. The Turkish Jews welcomed the Ottoman invasion for their situation had been hard under Christian Byzantine rule. Under the rule of Islam, they were granted religious liberty, security against attack, and the right to own land. This period of prosperity and calm lasted several centuries as Turkey became a haven for persecuted Jews throughout Europe. Jews played an important role in the courts of the sultans as ministers, scholars, and physicians; often, they were able to intervene on behalf of their less fortunate brethren in other countries.

In 1453, Sultan Mohammed II conquered Constantinople, and that city became a center of Jewish cultural and political life. In 1492, Sultan Bayazid II welcomed Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal. Many of these settled in Palestine, which fell under Turkish rule from 1516 until the end of World War I. A great influx of Sephardic Jews with their highly developed cultural tradition, as well as many of Europe‘s foremost scholars and physicians, enriched Turkey. The great Sephardic spiritual centers at Salonica and Smyrna flowered in the 16th and 17th centuries. Turkish Jews attained their greatest prominence during the reigns of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1556) and Selim II (r. 1556-1574). Don Joseph Nasi, a former Marrano, became Sultan Selim’s chief adviser and exerted great influence over European affairs. During the 16th century, Turkey became a center of Talmudic and Kabbalistic teaching. The works of Joseph Karo, Isaac Luria, and Hayyim Vital had great influence on Jewish learning and mysticism. Sabbatai Zevi, the messianic pretender, attracted a fanatical following among thousands of Jews in Turkey and Europe.

The end of Salim II’s reign saw the beginning Turkey’s decline as an important power and the disappearance of Jewish fortunes. Later sultans enacted discriminatory measures against Jews. At the end of the 19th century, Turkey played a crucial role in the history of political Zionism. In 1899, Theodor Herzl tried to obtain a colonization charter from the Turkish Sultan which would allow unlimited immigration to Palestine. His efforts were unsuccessful due to the Turkish suspicions of Zionist political aims. After World War I, the government of Kemal Pasha began a policy of Ottomanization of Turkey. Jewish autonomy was weakened in 1923 when Turkish became the only language of instruction permissible in Jewish schools. More restrictions followed. With the outbreak of World War II, however, Turkey was firm in its refusal to return Jewish refugees to Germany. Since 1947, about 45,000 Turkish Jews left for Israel, and an estimated 17,000 Jews remain. They are concentrated in the three major cities, Istanbul, Ismir, and Ankara. The Turkish government has been friendly to Israel, and in 1997, Israel sold military aircraft to Turkey and started joint military exercises. The two continue to maintain close relations.


Descended from Jacob’s sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Dan, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. While the tribe of Levi was set apart to serve in the Holy Temple, the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, were each given the status of an independent tribe at the time of the possession and distribution of the land of Israel.


Righteous person; Hasidic saint. (See Hasidism.)


Eighteenth letter of Hebrew alphabet; numerically, ninety.


See Charity.


Compilation of Torah commentaries and stories written in Yiddish in the late 16th century. It became popular with Jewish women in Eastern Europe, who took it to the synagogue and read it silently during the service, since they did not participate in the formal prayers and since many of them did not read Hebrew.


See Kabbalah.


Ritual fringes on the Tallit.


Israeli youth organization, equivalent to the Boy and Girl Scouts, first started in England by Baden-Powell. Unlike other scouting programs, the Tzofim is coed, and besides camping, sports activities, and community service, they followed the pattern of other Israeli youth organizations and prepared their members for farming and settling on the frontier. The Tzofim have formed several kibbutzim. There are both Jewish and Arab scouts in Israel today, belonging to the Israel Boy and Girl Scout Federation.