I think you can still buy Levy’s Rye Bread in New York. Years ago in the subways that company advertised with a series of posters of apparently non-Jewish types (Buster Keaton, a native American, a NYPD cop, a choir boy, African- and Asian-Americans) happily chomping on its product. Very politically incorrect and ethnically inaccurate in today’s world, but in the sixties the ad campaign made its point and helped propel its creator, legendary adman Bill Bernbach, into the Advertising Hall of Fame. (To keep things contemporary, I must note that Bernbach–a founder of Doyle, Dane & Bernbach–is considered an inspiration for today’s “Mad Men” television series.)

A non-Jewish San Francisco friend, whose book club has invited me to speak early in 2011, commented, after reading the book herself, that it would be helpful to have some terms explained. So, I’ve developed a glossary, which is actually included in the ebook version of After the Auction.

Readers Guide to Jewish-related terms in After the Auction

afikomen: “dessert” in Greek;refers to a piece of unleavened bread hidden for children to find after the Passover Seder meal.

aliyah: “ascending” or going up in Hebrew;“making aliyah” refers to moving to Israel

Ashkenazic: refers to Jews of eastern European (including Russian) descent

charoses: a mixture composed of variations of fruits, nuts, spices, wine symbolizing the mortar enslaved Jews in Egypt used to build the Pyramids

challah: a braided egg bread eaten on the Jewish Sabbath and High Holidays

dayenu: “we will be satisfied” in Hebrew; also the name of a popular Passover song

haggadah: “the telling, recounting, saga” and name for the book used for the Passover Seder ritual

hamentaschen: a triangle-shaped pastry filled with fruit preserves or poppy seed to symbolize the triangular hat of Hamen, the villain of the Purim holiday story

havdalah: “differentiation” in Hebrew; a term used for the ceremony that closes the Jewish Sabbath

Judaica: cultural, historical aspects of the Jewish people, also used to describe texts and ritual artifacts

kaddish: the Jewish prayer for the dead recited by mourners during the first year after a loss and on the anniversary of the death each year thereafter

kashruth: the practice and laws of ensuring that food is kosher and of keeping kosher in the home

kiddush (cup): the Jewish blessing for wine recited on the Sabbath and holidays and the designated cup of wine raised in the process

l’chaim: “to life,” the traditional toast of Jews

matzah: the unleavened (cracker) bread Jews were said to have eaten in the desert, therefore traditionally eaten instead of other bread during Passover

menorah: a candelabra traditionally with nine branches and lights lit every night during the Chanukah festival

mezzuzah: the biblical word for “doorpost” that refers to a tiny scroll inscribed with a Torah passage and the case that encloses it that is hung on the doorpost of a Jewish home

Mossad: The Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations

refusnik: term used for Soviet citizens, mainly Jews, whose applications for visas to emigrate were refused

sabra: prickly pear cactus fruit and colloquial term for native Israeli

Seder (plate):“order” in Hebrew, the opening meal of Passover with symbols of the holiday displayed on a special vessel that are explained during the ritual that is read and told before and after the actual dinner

Sephardic: refers to Jews of Mediterranean descent, including from Spain, Northern Africa, and the Middle East

Shabbos: Yiddish word for the Sabbath, vs. Shabbat in Hebrew

shul: Yiddish word for synagogue

tallit: Jewish prayer shawl

Talmud:“learning” in Hebrew and the name for the primary text of rabbinic pronouncements on Jewish law, ethics, history, and practice.

Torah: the Five Books of Moses, the beginning of the Jewish Bible.

treyf: Yiddish word for non-kosher food

Zionism: a political and social movement aiming for self-determination for Jews in a designated homeland

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