Terminology in the Jerusalem context can be complex and also controversial. Words and their meanings shape narratives. Our Lexicon goes beyond standard definitions and also offers, where applicable, nuanced shades of meanings that matter to Palestinian Jerusalemites.


The Israeli Land Registration Bureau, a department within the Israeli Ministry of Justice; the word tabu is a holdover from Ottoman Turkish


In Islam, a voluntary night prayer or vigil. Also known as “night prayer” or qiyam al-layl, tahajjud is performed any time between the obligatory evening prayer (isha) and obligatory dawn prayer (fajr). However, it is ideally offered during the last third of the night. This is because Muslims believe that God’s mercy descends to the lowest realm of heaven and in answer to Muslims who are praying to God during this time. During the holy month of Ramadan, tahajjud has greater spiritual merit. For this reason, worshippers spend Ramadan nights in mosques praying and reciting the Quran until the dawn prayer.


A series of reforms in the Ottoman Empire undertaken between 1839 and 1876 that introduced administrative measures that laid the groundwork for the modernization of the Ottoman state. Their impact on the status of Jerusalem was significant insofar as the centralized system of government that they entailed destroyed the grip of local sheikhs, introduced administrative order, and helped to establish the prominence of Jerusalem over its surrounding rural countryside. A small number of local Jerusalem families emerged as power centers in this period, notably the Khalidis and the Husaynis, and they became the new elite.


A voluntary prayer performed specifically and only during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Tarawih is performed after the evening (‘isha) obligatory prayer every night of Ramadan. Tarawih is performed in sets of two rak‘as, which refers to the full cycles of prostrations in Muslim prayer. There is some debate about how many rak‘as a complete tarawih prayer consists of, with some modern opinions claiming that 8 rak‘as, and others 12, or even the more traditional 20 rak‘as are needed to complete tarawih. Breaks are taken between each pair of two rak‘as. Muslim men and women congregate in mosques to perform this prayer guided by an imam. Long portions of the Quran are read during tarawih prayers. As the prayer is a long one, Muslims view tarawih as a means of developing a stronger connection with God and asking for forgiveness and blessings. The communal prayer also provides a sense of unity to Muslim communities from all walks of life, in all geographic locations. 


A traditional Palestinian embroidery art, known for its intricate and colorful designs, typically stitched onto clothing, accessories, and household items. 

Practiced for centuries, it holds profound cultural and historical significance. 

The patterns often feature geometric shapes, floral motifs, and symbols representing specific regions, tribes, or social statuses, with each design telling its own story. 

The embroidery is primarily done using cross-stitch and other techniques on fabrics like linen or cotton. Traditional tatreez employs bright and vibrant colors, predominantly red and black, though contemporary pieces may use a broader palette. 

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, tatreez symbolizes Palestinian identity and heritage, serving as a means to preserve and pass down cultural traditions through generations. 


The General Secondary Education Certificate Examination in several Arab countries. 

Tawjihi is a crucial examination taken by students at the end of their secondary education. The results of the Tawjihi exams determine a student’s eligibility for higher education and university admissions. 

The exam covers a variety of subjects, and students usually specialize in either scientific or literary streams, known as ‘ilmi or adabi, respectively. 

The exam is known for being highly competitive and rigorous, with a significant impact on students’ future educational and career opportunities. 

Total closure day

A day on which no one with a Palestinian Authority ID is allowed to enter Jerusalem or Israel at all, even if they have a valid entry permit. In such cases, the entry permits for that day are canceled, and the holder has to reapply all over again. A total closure prevents Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as their goods, from traveling into or through Israel. It also restricts the movement of Palestinians and goods within the West Bank itself. The Israeli army usually implements increased inspections, checking vehicles, passengers, and persons on foot at permanent and temporary Israeli military checkpoints. Also, Palestinians and shipments are blocked from entering or exiting crossings to Jordan.  

Town Planning Scheme (TPS) 11536

Planning scheme submitted in 2005 to the Israeli Jerusalem Municipal Planning department by an Israeli real estate company, C & M Co., with ties to Irving Moskowitz. TPS 11536 targeted the Shepherd Hotel compound in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for the construction of 90 new Jewish housing units, in addition to a Jewish kindergarten and synagogue.

Town Planning Scheme (TPS) 11555

Planning scheme by the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality to transform the entirety of the Palestinian neighborhoods of Wadi Hilweh and al-Bustan in Silwan into an Israeli and Jewish archaeological park, displacing Palestinian residents. Whereas Plan AM/9, currently in operation, designates the area as an “open public area, special public area and area reserved for archaeological excavations,” TPS 11555 significantly changes the area with plans “for roads, parking lots, paths, a promenade, open areas, a special public area, public buildings and institutions, engineering installations and housing.”

Town Planning Scheme (TPS) 12705

Planning scheme submitted for approval by Israeli real estate company Nahalat Shimon International on August 28, 2008, to the Israeli Jerusalem Local Planning Commission. If TPS 12705 is approved and implemented, approximately 500 Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah will be displaced and 200 new Jewish housing units will be built as part of the Jewish settlement of Shimon HaTzadik in Sheikh Jarrah.

Town Planning Scheme (TPS) 2639

Planning scheme published for approval in 1984 targeting a parcel of land near the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, designating it for public building. The land was purchased by a pair of Canadian philanthropists who reportedly intend to build a conference center. Little was known about this initiative until a sign reading “The Max and Gianna Glassman Campus” was erected there in the summer of 2009.


Mandate established by Britain in April 1921 east of the Jordan River, later to become the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. Following the Ottoman ouster from the region in 1918, Britain had promised the territory to the Arabs as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in the Hussein–McMahon Correspondence between 1915 and 1916. However, with the defeat of the Arabs at the hands of French forces at the Battle of Maysalun in July 1920, Britain stepped in to determine the region’s administration. Britain maintained political representation east of the Jordan until November 1920, when Emir Abdullah, son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca who had been promised the Arab Kingdom and brother of King Faisal, who had recently been deposed by the French at the Battle of Maysalun, marched into the territory with his army and seized control. In March 1921, at the Cairo Conference, British authorities decided to bring the Emirate of Transjordan under the colonial British Mandate for Palestine, while excluding it from an agreement with Zionists regarding Jewish settlement. Emir Abdullah agreed and formed a government on April 11, 1921. Between 1921 and 1946, though Palestine and Transjordan were technically one mandate under British rule, they were administered separately, with the latter given considerable more autonomy under Abdullah’s leadership. Britain recognized the independence of Abdullah’s government in May 1923, and gradually relinquished its control, granting it independence as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on May 25, 1946.