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March 2021 | ניסן תשפ"א | Newsletter #3

Holidays and Jewish Texts: Passover - פֶּסַח

מצה (1)
Where does the word Afikoman come from?

The source of the word “afikomen” (אֲפִיקוֹמָן) is the word “epikomen” which means “the over-revelry/party after the meal”. The Greeks would move from one banquet to another, from house to house and give out sweets. To distinguish the Passover Seder from the Greek epikomen, it was determined to end the Seder meal with matzah, the bread of affliction.
Maxwell House publishes a Haggadah in 1932

In 1932, the well-known coffee company Maxwell House published the Maxwell House Haggadah (הַגָּדָה) as part of its marketing campaign to attract Jewish customers. A decade earlier, the company had received rabbinic approval certifying that its coffee was kosher for Passover. With the publication of the Haggadah, the company launched a sales pitch, offering a free Haggadah with a purchase of a can of coffee. As of 2020, around sixty million copies of the Maxwell House Haggadah have been printed, making it the most widely circulated Haggadah in the United States.
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Visit our Hebrew site for other Passover resources and interactive activities for your seder!

What's in a Name

Aviv - אָבִיב

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Aviv/Spring is a well-loved season and the source of the personal names Aviv, Aviva, Avivit. The word Aviv is familiar from the Bible and is apparently close to the word Aiv (Ibo, like Lev – Lebo). Aiv is a (flowery) bud, connoting youth and vitality.

The root “אב"ב” is common to many Semitic languages and its meanings are connected with growth. In Amharic, the language of most olim (immigrants) from Ethiopia, the
word, אבבה (with the same root) is “flower”. Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, means “new flower”.

In modern Hebrew, “aviv” is the word for Spring; Originally, “aviv” did not refer to a season. Aviv in the Bible refers to the crop/produce before the end of the ripening, when it is still green and full of seeds.

In the Bible, the word “aviv” appears in connection with time, “Hodesh ha’aviv”. The month of “aviv” is the month in which the spring crop begins to grow.

It was only in the Middle Ages, in the Hebrew of hachmei Sefarad, that the word “aviv” began to be used to mark the season between winter and summer, and this use has remained ever since. Before that, the seasons were named for the month that opens each time period.

Visit our Hebrew site to search for other Hebrew names!

A Modern Hebrew Word

Vaccine - חִסּוּן

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Around the world, COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out. The Hebrew word for vaccine is חִסּוּן.

What is the source for the medical definition of חיסון? Dr. Yitzhak Ben Yosef Tovim of St.
Petersburg first used the term in an article in HaMelitz in 1896. Dr. Ben Yosef Tovim wrote a series of articles on diphtheria and made great efforts to apply Hebrew words. When terms were missing in Hebrew, he coined new ones.

החיסון העברי
The word חִסּוּן derives from the root חס"ן which means “strength and fortitude/intensity” as well as protection in the Bible.

Dr. Ben Yosef Tovim uses this term for its meaning of courage and protection and for its root to highlight the medical protection that is offered against harm/demons.

Check out our Hebrew archive to learn more!
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News, Updates and Events

Yom Halvrit (Hebrew Language Day) 2020 was a success!
The events of Yom HaIvrit (Hebrew Language Day) 5781/2020 were varied and successful despite the difficult year. Due to Covid restrictions, no public events were held and activity was all online with record-breaking clicks on the Academy’s website. The Academy initiated many activities which sparked much public interest on our website and on the different media platforms. Thousands of people participated in the Alifut HaIvrit Contest (Champions of Hebrew Language Contest) and in the initiative Hamila ha’Ahuva (Beloved Word), and watched the live chats on our social networks. The Academy produced, as it does every year, colorful kits for schools. Hundreds of kits were sold to schools throughout Israel and additional designated kits were produced in cooperation with different organizations and institutions.

Yom HaIvrit has evolved into a significant day in Israel. Organizations, institutions, schools, public figures, and the media have also marked the day festively with publications and events. Next year, the Academy plans to also commemorate Yom HaIvrit abroad and produce designated materials for Hebrew language lovers overseas.

Click here to learn more and to enjoy the different activities of
Yom Halvrit (in Hebrew)
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