Glossary -- Israel
- agora (pl., agorot)
- An Israeli coin. One hundred agorot equal one new Israeli
- aliyah (pl., aliyot)
- Literally, going up. The immigration of Jews to Eretz Yisrael,
or the Land of Israel. Historians have classified five major
periods of immigration to Israel, as follows: First Aliyah (1882-
1903); Second Aliyah (1904-14); Third Aliyah (1919-23); Fourth
Aliyah (1924-31); and Fifth Aliyah (1932-39).
- Asefat Hanivharim (Constituent
- The Yishuv's parliamentary body and the Knesset's predecessor.
- Ashkenazim (sing., Ashkenazi)
- Jews of European origin.
- Son of; frequently used in personal names, as Bar-Lev.
- Son of; frequently used in personal names, as Ben-Gurion.
- A political labor organization of Jewish workers founded in
Vilna, Lithuania in 1987. The name is an abbreviation in Yiddish
for The General Union of Jewish Workers in Russia, Lithuania, and
Poland. The Bund opposed Zionism and viewed Yiddish as the only
secular Jewish language.
- Conservative Jews
- Accept the primacy of halakah (q.v.) but have
introduced modifications in liturgy and ritual.
- Refers to the Jews living in scattered communities outside
Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) during and after the Babylonian
Captivity (sixth century B.C.) and, especially, after the
dispersion of the Jews from the region after the destruction of the
Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70 and the Bar-Kokhba War in A.D. 132-
35. In modern times the word refers to the Jews living outside
Palestine or present-day Israel. When the word is applied--usually
lowercased--to non-Jews, such as the Palestinian Arab refugees, the
word describes the situation of the people of one country dispersed
into other countries.
- Member of a religious community that constitutes a minority
among Arabic-speaking Palestinians in Israel. Druze beliefs contain
elements of Shia (q.v.) Islam, Christianity, and paganism.
- fiscal year (FY)
- Begins April 1 and ends March 31; FY 1988, for example, began
April 1, 1988, and ended March 31, 1989.
- Gaza Strip
- former Egyptian territory occupied by Israel in the June 1967
- GDP (gross domestic product)
- A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services
produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only
output values of goods for final consumption and intermediate
production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is
sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that
indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been
eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross
indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have
not been made. See also GNP.
- GNP (gross national product)
- GDP (q.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from
transactions with foreign countries. GNP is the broadest
measurement of the output of goods and services by an economy. It
can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes
and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only
transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost, removing
indirect taxes and subsidies.
- Golan Heights
- former Syrian territory occupied by Israel in the June 1967 War
and formally annexed by Israel in 1981.
- Greater Syria
- Term used by historians and others to designate the region that
includes approximately the present-day states of Jordan, Israel,
Lebanon, and Syria before those states were formed.
- Green Line
- name given to the 1949 Armistice lines that constituted the de
facto borders of pre-1967 Israel.
- Literally, defense. Abbreviation for Irgun HaHaganah, the
Jewish defense organization formed in 1919-20 by volunteers in
early Jewish communities as home guards for protection against
hostile bands. It became the military arm of the Jewish Agency
(q.v.) and went underground during the British Palestine
Mandate period (1922-48) when it was declared illegal. Along with
the Jewish Brigade, which fought with the Allied forces in World
War II, it formed the nucleus of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
established in 1948.
- HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim
B'Eretz Yisrael (General Federation of Laborers in the Land of
- Commonly known as Histadrut. Founded in 1920, this national-
level organization was also the nation's largest single employer
after the government. Histadrut performs many economic and welfare
services in addition to trade union activities; leadership of
Histadrut has generally been drawn from the Labor Party and its
- Either those parts of the Talmud that concern legal matters or
an accepted decision in rabbinical law. Sometimes translated as
- Hasid (pl., Hasidim)
- Member of a religious movement, known as Hasidism, founded in
the eighteenth century by Israel Ben-Eliezer Baal Shem Tov in
Eastern Europe. The movement, still active in the 1980s, stresses
the importance of serving God in ecstasy and has strong mystical
- An abbreviation for Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military
Organization). Established in 1937 as an underground Jewish
extremist organization, also known as Etzel, derived from the
pronounced initials of its Hebrew name. A more extreme group, known
as the Stern Gang (q.v.), broke away from it in 1939. Both
groups were especially active during and after World War II against
the British authorities in Palestine. Both maintained several
thousand armed men until all Israeli forces were integrated in June
- Israeli pound
- see new Israeli shekel.
- Jewish Agency
- Representing the World Zionist Organization as its executive
body, the Jewish Agency works in close cooperation with the
government of Israel, encourages and organizes immigration of Jews
into the country, and assists in their social and economic
- Keren HaYesod
- Literally, Israel Foundation Fund. The central fiscal
institution of the World Zionist Organization that finances its
activities in Israel.
- kibbutz (pl., kibbutzim)
- An Israeli collective farm or settlement, cooperatively owned
and operated by its members and organized on a communal basis.
- Israel's parliament, a unicameral legislature of 120 members
elected by universal suffrage for four-year terms; the Knesset may,
through legislative procedures, call for elections before the end
of the regular term or postpone elections in time of war.
- Language based on medieval Castilian but with Hebrew suffixes
and written in Hebrew alphabet; developed and used by Sephardim
- Law of Return
- Passed by Knesset in July 1950 stating that "Every Jew has the
right to come to (Israel) as an olah (new immigrant)."
- Acronym for Lohamei Herut Yisrael, literally, Fighters for
Israel's Freedom, a former resistance and political organization,
created in 1939 and disbanded under pressure in 1948. Commonly
known as the Stern Gang. See also Irgun.
- moshav (pl., moshavim)
- A cooperative smallholders' settlement of individual farms in
Israel. Individuals own their farms and personal property. Work is
organized collectively, equipment is used cooperatively, and
produce is marketed jointly. There are several variants including
the moshav ovdim, a workers' cooperative settlement, and
the moshav shitufi, a collective smallholders' settlement
that combines the economic features of a kibbutz (q.v.)
with the social features of a moshav. Farming is done collectively,
and profits are shared equally.
- new Israeli shekel (NIS)
- In September 1985, the new Israeli shekel (NIS) went into
circulation, replacing the Israeli shekel that had existed since
1980. (Before 1980 the Israeli currency was called the Israeli
pound or lira.) The NIS is equivalent to 1,000 old Israeli shekels
and is divided into 100 agorot. The requirement for the NIS stemmed
from the very rapid inflation rate of the preceding years, which
also resulted in dramatic devaluation of the old shekel against
foreign currencies; for example, from 1980 to 1985 the old shekel
lost value against the United States dollar by 25,000 percent. As
of August 1986, the NIS was no longer pegged to the United States
dollar but rather to a trade-weighted basket of foreign currencies:
60 percent United States dollar, 20 percent West German
deutschmark, 10 percent British pound, 5 percent French franc, and
5 percent Japanese yen. The currency notes in circulation are 5,
10, 50, and 100 NIS. The approximate exchange rate for the new
Israeli shekel and the United States dollar in 1988 was NIS 1.6 =
- Oriental Jews
- See Sephardim.
- Orthodox Jews
- Adherents of that branch of Judaism that insists on a rigid and
strict observance of halakah (q.v.) and an emphasis on
national ritual conformity.
- Pale of Settlement
- Area of twenty-five provinces of czarist Russia within which
Jews were allowed to live, outside of which they could reside only
with specific permission.
- Abbreviation for Pelugot Mahatz, shock forces. In British
Palestine and until June 1948, it was a commando section of the
Jewish military forces. Organized in 1941 to provide the Haganah
(q.v.) with a mobile force, it consisted of young men
mostly from kibbutzim, who took military training while working
part-time at farming, serving in cooperation with the British army,
without pay or uniforms.
- Reform Jews (sometimes called Progressive
or Liberal Jews)
- emphasize rationalism and ethical behavior, reject the absolute
authority of halakah, and assert the private religious nature of
- sabra (pl., sabras)
- From Hebrew word meaning "a prickly pear," but adapted to mean
a native-born Israeli Jew.
- Sephardim (sing., Sephardi; adj.,
- Basically Jews whose families were of Spanish or Portuguese
origin, wherever resident; historically, they tended to speak
Ladino (q.v.) or Arabic. The term is often applied to
those Jews who are not Ashkenazim. Since the 1960s, Sephard have
often been called Oriental Jews.
- Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
- Shia (or Shiite, from Shiat Ali, the Party
- A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam.
The Shias supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive
right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and
on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.). Shias
revere Twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be hidden from
- Stern Gang
- See Lehi.
- Sunni (from sunna, meaning orthodox)
- A member of the larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The
Sunnis supported the traditional method of election to the
caliphate and accepted the Umayyad line. On this issue they divided
from the Shias (q.v.) in the first great schism within
- Literally, teaching. Compendium of discussions on the Mishnah
(the earliest codification of Jewish religious law, largely
complete by 200 A.D.), by generations of scholars and jurists in
many academies over a period of several centuries. The Jerusalem
(or Palestinian) Talmud mainly contains the discussion of the
Palestinian sages. The Babylonian Talmud incorporates the parallel
discussions in the Babylonian academies.
- The first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, and Deuteronomy; often called the Pentateuch or the Law of
Moses. In a broader sense, the entire body of traditional religious
teaching and study.
- ulpan (pl., ulpanim)
- center for study, particularly for the study of Hebrew by adult
immigrants to Israel.
- West Bank
- The area of Palestine west of the Jordan River seized from
Jordan by Israel in the June 1967 War. In 1988 it remained Israeli-
occupied territory and was not recognized by the United States
government as part of Israel. Israelis refer to this area as Judea
- World Zionist Organization (WZO)
- Founded in August 1897 at the First Zionist Congress called by
Theodor Herzl at Basel, Switzerland. The movement, named after
Mount Zion in Jerusalem, was designed to establish in Palestine a
national home for Jews scattered throughout the world. Since 1948
its efforts have been devoted primarily to promoting unity of the
Jewish people and raising funds. In 1929 it established the Jewish
Agency (q.v.). Until 1960 its formal name was Zionist
Organization, but word World added in new constitution.
- yeshiva (pl., yeshivot)
- Traditional rabbinical school for the study of Talmud
- A language based on medieval Rhineland German used by Jews in
eastern, northern, and central Europe and in areas to which Jews
from these regions migrated. It also contains elements of Hebrew,
Russian, and Polish, and it is commonly written in Hebrew
- The Jewish community in Palestine before statehood. Also used
in referring to the period between 1900 and 1948.