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Glossary

Aljama

A characteristic institution of the medieval Hispanic kingdoms, responsible for the government and internal administration of Jewish communities. An organ for the internal government of medieval Jewish communities.

Bailiff

The king's representative for financial administration.

Bet Din

A Jewish court made up of two or three judges charged with judging the internal affairs of the community. It was governed by Jewish religious law.

Call (Jewry)

The Jewish quarter in the towns and villages of medieval Catalonia. The Catalan word Call derives from the Latin callis. In Lleida, it was referred to as the cuirassa.

Collection

An inter-community Jewish organization that combined various aljamas with a financial aim in mind: the allocation, imposition and gathering of taxes for delivery to the king.

Convert

A Jewish man or woman who has been received into the Christian faith.

Council

The governing body administering a town or a community.

Diaspora

Dispersion. Word of Greek origin, meaning exile, that designates the dispersion of Jews around the world.

Kabbalah

A current of mystical and esoteric philosophy, characteristic of medieval Judaism, based on a belief in divine emanations (sephirott) which configure the created universe. Kabbalah originated in medieval Provence (Narbonne, Lunel) and arrived in Girona in the 12th century, where it came to attain a very high degree of sophistication.

Kosher

This means suitable. It designates food considered pure and which may be consumed according to Jewish law: the meat of all ruminating mammals that have cloven hooves, and fish with fins and scales. Almost all birds may also be eaten, except for birds of prey. Reptiles and insects are also forbidden.

Menorah

The seven-branched candelabrum, symbol of Judaism.

Mezuzah

A roll of parchment on which are written the Jewish prayer Listen Israel and Shaddai (the word for Almighty). It is placed in a tube or box and embedded in the right-hand doorpost of Jewish homes. When entering or leaving, Jews must place their hands over it, remembering that God gave the Law to their people.

Pentateuch

The first five books of the Bible, which form the Torah (or Jewish law, by antonomasia).

Pesach

The Festival of Passover (the Jewish Easter).

Prohoms (Great men)

Municipal leaders.

Rabbi

A man educated and ordained in the Law, and who may lead a community spiritually. Literally means "Master".

Sepharad

The name that the Jews gave to the Muslim and Castilian Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. In the modern language, it is used to refer to Spain.

Sephardi

A Jew of Hispanic origin.

Shabbat (Saturday)

The day of weekly rest, during which it is not even allowed to light a fire or engage in any type of work. A day dedicated to prayer and reflection. It begins at dusk on Friday.

Shechita

The ritual sacrifice of animals, with their throats cut facing towards Jerusalem, so that their flesh may be pure and kosher.

Synagogue

A word of Greek origin that means "meeting". The place where Jews meet to study, pray and learn the law of God. In medieval Catalonia, synagogues were referred to as escoles ("schools").

Torah

The Jewish Law, consisting of the first five books of the Bible. In Judaism, this is the Law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.

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