Sunday, April 11, 2010

Holocaust Vocabulary and Concepts

Dear friends,

In my English class at our home school co-op, I have been teaching a series on the vocabulary and concepts of major world religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, and Judaism.  We covered Judaism last week, but didn't have time to discuss the Holocaust so I told them we will do it tomorrow (April 12).  This is actually providential timing, since Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is tomorrow.  Please note that this is not a full treatment of the Holocaust -- I am only introducing the terms and concepts.  I will bring along and introduce several books about the Holocaust -- some from the library and some that I own -- mainly focusing on fiction and biography.  I have included a short list of some of these after the vocabulary list.  I will also read a picture book, The Harmonica, by Tony Johnston.  I can never make it through this book without crying.  That is as it should be. This is such a crucial historical period to study, in hopes that we will never let this happen again.  Unfortunately, this past week marked the 16th anniversary of the beginning of 100 days of genocide in Rwanda, while the world stood by and did just about nothing...  Will we never learn?

Vocabulary of the Holocaust

The Jews and Persecution

• anti-Semitism: attitudes and actions against the Jewish people. Semite refers to the Jewish people being descended from Shem, the son of Noah

• Yiddish: language spoken by many Jews in Eastern Europe; a combination of German, Hebrew and dialects of the countries in which Jews were living.

• prejudice: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason

• scapegoat: a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place. The Jews were made scapegoats (falsely blamed) for all sorts of problems in Germany. The term originally comes from the Bible, in which a goat was let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26.

• persecution: harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race, or beliefs

• Diaspora: the scattering of communities of the Jews around the world, away from their homeland, Israel. From the Greek for “dispersion,” the term dates back to 556 B.C. when King Nebuchadnezzar exiled the Judeans to Babylonia and refers to the Jewish communities outside Israel.

• deportation: the expulsion of an undesired alien or other person from a state or region; Jews were deported from European cities to concentration camps

• displacement: the process, whether official or unofficial, of people being involuntarily moved from their homes because of war, government policies, or other societal actions, requiring them to find new places to live. Displacement is a recurring theme in the history of the Jewish people.

• Holocaust: The destruction of 6 millionJews by the Nazis and their followers in Europe between the years 1933-1945. Other individuals and groups were persecuted and suffered grievously during this period, but only the Jews were marked for complete and utter extinction. The term "Holocaust" - literally meaning "a completely burned sacrifice" - tends to suggest a sacrificial connotation to what occurred.

• Shoah: originally a Biblical term meaning widespread disaster, it is the modern Hebrew equivalent of the word Holocaust

• genocide: the deliberate and systematic destruction of a religious, racial, national, or cultural group

• pogrom: an organized and often officially encouraged massacre of or attack on Jews. The word is derived from two Russian words that mean "thunder."

• atrocity: appalling, cruel or monstrous condition or behavior

• annihilate: to reduce to utter ruin or nonexistence; Hitler's goal for the Jews was annihilation.

• ghetto: A section of a city where Jews were forced to live, usually with several families living in one house, separated from the rest of the city by walls or wire fences, and used primarily as a station for gathering Jews for deportation to concentration camps.

• the Resistance: the "underground" organizations working to help the Jews against Hitler/Nazi army

• White Rose Movement: A group of young German students who protested against the Nazi treatment of Jews and others. Most of the members of this group were eventually rounded up and executed.

• gypsies: a nomadic darker skinned ethnic group, whose ancestors were originally from India, which settled in Europe and was persecuted during the Holocaust along with the Jews.

Hitler and the Nazi Party

• Adolf Hitler: Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor) of Germany who lived from 1889-1945. He committed suicide at the end of the war.

• Nazi: the political party, headed by Adolf Hitler, which seized political control of Germany in 1933; the German acronym for the National Socialist German Workers' party. People with similar aggressive racist views today are often called neo-Nazis.

• swastika: a bent cross symbol that the Nazis adopted as their official symbol; it was once an ancient symbol used to ward off evil spirits

• reich: German word for "empire." The Nazis hoped to establish a Greater German Reich that was “judenfrei” (“free of Jews”).

• Gestapo: acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei, meaning Secret State Police. Prior to the outbreak of war, the Gestapo used brutal methods to investigate and suppress resistance to Nazi rule within Germany.

• Aryan Race: a supposed "super race" of Northern Europeans. Hitler wanted to preserve the purity of good European blood by weeding out the undesirables. "Aryan" was originally applied to people who spoke any Indo-European language

• propaganda: information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

• Hitler Youth: (Hitler Jugend) established in the 1920's, it indoctrinated boys with Nazi propaganda, made them serve the war effort, and encouraged them to betray friends and family who were not loyal to the cause. The girls' organization was called Bund Deutcher Mädel. Hitler wrote in 1933: "My program for educating youth is hard. Weakness must be hammered away. In my castles of the Teutonic Order a youth will grow up before which the world will tremble. I want a brutal, domineering, fearless, cruel youth. Youth must be all that. It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it. The free, splendid beast of prey must once again flash from its eyes...That is how I will eradicate thousands of years of human domestication...That is how I will create the New Order." By 1936, all German youth were required to join it.

• Protocols of the Elders of Zion: a major piece of anti-Semitic propaganda, compiled at the turn of the century by members of the Russian Secret Police and later used by the Nazis to turn public opinion against the Jews. Translated into many languages, the book has been reprinted and is currently widely distributed by Neo-Nazis and others who are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

• Nuremberg Laws: two anti-Jewish statutes enacted September 1935 during the Nazi party's national convention in Nuremberg, taking away the Jews' civil rights. The first deprived German Jews of their citizenship rights. The second outlawed marriages of Jews and non-Jews, forbade Jews from employing German females of childbearing age, and prohibited Jews from displaying the German flag.

• Night and Fog decree: Secret order issued by Hitler on December 7, 1941, to seize "persons endangering German security," who were to vanish without a trace into night and fog.

• kristallnacht: (German) "Night of the Broken Glass" pogrom unleashed by the Nazis on November 9-10, 1938. Throughout Germany and Austria, synagogues and other Jewish institutions were burned, Jewish stores were destroyed, and their contents looted. At the same time, approximately 35,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps. The "excuse" for this action was the assassination of Ernst vom Rath in Paris by a Jewish teenager whose parents had been rounded up by the Nazis.

• blitzkrieg: "lightning war," used to describe the speed, efficiency and intensity of Germany's military attack against their opponents

• commandant: commanding officer of a military organization

The Concentration Camps

• Final Solution: The cover name for the plan to destroy the Jews of Europe - the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question." Beginning in December 1941, Jews were rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the East. The program was deceptively disguised as "resettlement in the East."

• concentration camp: a guarded compound for imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents, etc., especially any of the thousands of labor camps established by the Nazis prior to and during World War II.

• extermination camp: a concentration camp especially used for killing Jews

• Auschwitz: Concentration and extermination camp in upper Silesia, Poland, 37 miles west of Krakow. Established in 1940 as a concentration camp, it became an extermination camp in early 1942. Some other main camps were Buchenwald, Dachau, Ravensbrück, and Treblinka.

• euthanasia: the original meaning of this term was an easy and painless death for the terminally ill. However, the Nazi euthanasia program took on quite a different meaning: the taking of eugenic measures to improve the quality of the German "race." This program culminated in enforced "mercy" deaths for the incurably insane, permanently disabled, deformed and "superfluous."

• gas chambers: large, sealed rooms (usually with shower nozzles) used for murdering prisoners of concentration camps with a poisonous gas called Zyklon B; many people were led into gas chambers with the belief they were going in to take a shower.

• crematorium: ovens built in concentration camps to burn and dispose of the large number of murdered bodies.

• death marches: At the end of WWII, when it became clear the German army was trapped between the Soviets to the east and the advancing Allied troops from the west, the Nazis, to thwart the liberation of camp inmates, forced them to march westward, resulting in the deaths of thousands.

After the War

• Zionism: a movement of people dedicated to establishing and preserving the modern nation of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Israel became a nation on May 8, 1948.

• Yizkor books: also known as memorial books, chronicle the lives of Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust. These rare books uniquely record the history of the shtetls (villages), cities, or regions of Europe, and are often one of the few remaining sources on a town’s people, as well as its cultural, religious, and social institutions.

• Yad Vashem: museum in Jerusalem dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims. A tree lined avenue at Yad Vashem is commemorates "The Righteous of the Nations" -- those Gentiles (non-Jews) who risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis. The name of the Yad Vashem Museum is taken from an Old Testament passage in Isaiah: "I will build for them a name and a memorial." (Isaiah 56:5). There are many other Holocaust memorial museums around the world, including a large one in Washington, D.C.

• survivor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks

• Holocaust Remembrance Day: also known by the Hebrew term Yom Hashoah, falls on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, chose this date because it falls between the date on which the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began and Israel's Independence Day, and also because it occurs during the traditional Jewish period of mourning known as the Counting of the Omer.

• Nuremburg trials: a series of court trials conducted in 1945-1946 by the International Military Tribunal in the attempt to convict those accused of war crimes during the Holocaust. There were 24 men tried; of these, 12 were sentenced to death by hanging, 3 to life imprisonment, 4 to shorter prison terms, and 4 acquitted (declared not guilty).

For More Information

Web sites: (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Books (Fiction & Biography):

The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom, or any biography of her
The Harmonica by Tony Johnston -- picture book about a boy in a concentration camp
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco -- picture book
Behind the Bedroom Wall by Laura E. Williams
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
• The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued from the Holocaust by Maxine B. Rosenberg

Be sure to look at my Judaism Vocabulary list too!

Judaism Vocabulary and Concepts

Dear friends,

In my English class at co-op, I have been teaching a series on World Religions, explaining the vocabulary and concepts behind Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, and Judaism so far. This is the vocabulary word list for Judaism. The words with open bullets (o) were spelling words, too. My son-in-law Ryan, who is a Messianic Sephardic Jew, helped me with this list and loaned me a menorah, tallit, Torah scroll, matzah crackers, and other Judaica for my class presentation. I did not have time to discuss the Holocaust, so we are saving that for Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) on April 12. I have put the vocabulary list for that here:

I will try to upload my other world religion lists soon, too.


Judaism Vocabulary & Concepts

The Bible & Beliefs:

o Judaism: monotheistic religion whose adherents worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as described in the Old Testament, or Tanakh

• Tanakh: the Hebrew name for the Old Testament, which includes the Torah (law), Nevi'im (prophets), and Ketuvim (Psalms, Proverbs, Job and other writings)

o Torah: The first five books of the Bible as dictated to Moses by God. Before the Torah is read, a prayer of blessing is said, including these words: "Blessed are thou, O Lord God of the universe, who has chosen us from all people and has given us Thy Torah."

• Talmud: Jewish religious writings that are not Scripture. Talmud is made of two parts: 1) The Mishnah (a collection of Judaism's oral law) and Gemara (discussion of the Mishnah by different rabbis). 2) The Midrash is a collection of parables and stories that help teach the Tanakh.

o covenant: an oath or promise, such as the ones God made with Noah and Abraham. In Hebrew, this word is “b’rit.” It is another word for "testament."

• mitzvot (“commandments” in English): laws, good deeds or duties commanded by God as a guide to a righteous lifestyle

• Shema: prayer used by Jews affirming belief in the one God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: "Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4–9)

• mezuzah: a scroll containing the Shema, housed inside a container attached to doorframes in homes (Deuteronomy 6:9)

• l'chaim: "to life!"— a blessing or a toast at a celebration לחיים

o shalom: peace, wholeness

People & Places:

o prophet: a messenger of God or someone who wrote the Bible, such as Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Amos, Jeremiah, etc.

o rabbi: ordained Jewish religious teacher or leader

• cantor: person who chants the prayers and blessings during services in a synagogue

o Orthodox: Jews who follow all the laws of the Torah closely; men and women sit on separate sides of the synagogue and no musical instruments are used

• Conservative, Reformed and Reconstructionist: Jews who are less observant of the Torah

o Messianic: Jews who believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Messiah (Mashiach) who fulfilled all of the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament

• Ashkenazi: (adj.) Jews whose ancestors came from Central and Eastern Europe

• Sephardic: (adj.) Jews whose ancestors came from Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, Portugal and North Africa

• Mizrahi: (adj.) Jews whose ancestors come from the Middle East, such as Iraq, Iran and Yemen

o synagogue: Jewish place of worship

o Tabernacle: the traveling tent in the Old Testament where the Jews worshipped and sacrificed before the temple was built

o Temple: the place of worship originally built by Solomon in Jerusalem as a permanent dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon's temple was destroyed, and Herod rebuilt a smaller one which was destroyed in 70 A.D. as Jesus had prophesied. The Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque stands on the Temple Mount site.

• Wailing Wall: The only part of Herod's temple that remains is the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, or kotel in Hebrew. Jews go there to pray, wedging small papers with prayers into the cracks of the wall.

• yeshiva: religious school for Jewish students and aspiring rabbis

o Israel: the Jewish homeland. Zionists, who believe that Jews must have their traditional homeland, established the modern country of Israel in 1948, and are working to ensure Israel remains as a nation despite its neighboring opponents

o kibbutz: a collective community in which everyone works together

Holidays & Celebrations:

o Sabbath: (Shabbat in Hebrew) the seventh day of the week, in which Jews are to rest and do no work, as God rested on the seventh day of creation; it starts with the lighting of the Shabbat candles and kiddush, a prayer of blessing. The Sabbath ends with the havdalah ceremony.

• Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah: celebration marking a boy (bar) or girl (bat) coming to maturity as a man or woman, usually at age 13.

o Yom Kippur: solemn holy commemoration of the Day of Atonement. It is a time of repentance and forgiveness. In the Old Testament, it was the one day of the year when the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies (the innermost room of the tabernacle or temple) to atone (offer a blood sacrifice) for the sins of the Israelites.   Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled Yom Kippur not only as the High Priest, but also as the atoning sacrifice. (See Hebrews 9 below.)

o Hanukkah: eight-day festival of lights commemorating the rededication of the second temple after the Maccabean revolt in the 2nd century B.C.

• Rosh Hashanah: holiday which celebrates Jewish New Year

• Purim: holiday celebrating Queen Esther's rescue of Jews from Haman's evil plot

o Passover: (pesach in Hebrew) the holiday which celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people out of Egyptian slavery in the time of Moses. The word refers to the the angel of death passing over (not visiting) the Jewish homes that had the blood of the sacrifice lamb on their doorposts, so that their firstborn sons were not killed. Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is our Passover sacrifice, because through our faith in him, the blood of his righteousness appeases the wrath of God against our sin. Unleavened bread (without yeast, which symbolizes sin) is used at Passover. "Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:7-8


o kosher: food that is seen as pure and acceptable by Jews according to the Torah. Pork, shellfish, and eating beef with dairy are some examples of non-kosher foods. In the grocery store, kosher foods are often marked with ○U.

• challah: braided loaf of bread used during a Shabbat meal that is to remind them of the manna bread that God miraculously provided for them in the desert; other Jewish foods are bagels, knishes, blintzes, and matzah ball soup.

• yarmulke: a Yiddish word meaning a head covering worn by Jews, also known as a kippah in Hebrew; it is a sign of humility to God

o menorah: a seven-branched candlestick that is a symbol of the Jewish people for nearly 3,000 years. It was also used in the Tabernacle and Temple. A nine-branched menorah is used at Hanukkah to commemorate the eight days that oil was miraculously provided to the Jews when rededicating the temple; the ninth candle is used to light the other eight.

• shofar: ram's horn trumpet used in synagogue services

• tallit: prayer shawl with 4 tassels, one in each corner, to remind them of the Torah.

• Star of David: six-pointed star that symbolizes Judaism. The Hebrew name for it is Magen David. There is a blue one on the flag of Israel. During the Holocaust, when six million Jews were murdered, Hitler required that they wear the Star of David on their clothes to identify themselves.

Hebrews 9: Jesus the High Priest and the Sacrifice

9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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