Acharit HaYamim The end of the days The end times when the Olam Hazeh comes to a close and the Olam Haba is about to begin.
Adar Sixth month of Hebrew civil calendar: February-March.
Ad’lo Yoda"Until he cannot tell the difference" The name of the Israeli street pageant on the Purim holiday, derived from a Talmud saying that a man may drink on this holiday until he cannot tell the difference between the name of the hero and the villain of the Purim story.
Adonai My Lord, Lord of all. Spoken by Jewish people instead of God's personal name YHVH
Adonai EloheiTzva'ot Lord God of Hosts
Adonai Eloheinu Lord our God
Adonai Elohim The Lord God
Afikoman (al. Afikomen) Half of the central matzah broken off and put away at the beginning of the meal. Greek word meaning that which comes after or "dessert". It is represented in a broken piece of matzah wrapped in linen and buried (hidden). This piece of the ceremonial matzah is the final thing eaten at the Passover seder meal.
Aggadah (al. Agada, Agadah) pl. Agadot Stories, Parables
Akeda (a-kay-da) "Binding" the great event in genesis when Abraham met a supreme test of his faith when he bound his son on an alter, prepared to sacrifice him at G-d’s command. G-d forbade him to do so and a ram was sacrificed instead.
Akharonim (a-kha-roe-nim) "The Later Ones." Jewish jurists and comentators from about the seventeenth century to the present day.
Alef The first letter of the Hebrew Alef-Beyt (alphabet)
Al Netilat Yadayim The blessing over the washing of hands before the meal.
Aliya (a-lee-a) "Going up." A call to the reading stand to prounounce a blessing over a portion of the Torah. Also, immigration to Israel.
Amen It is true, so be it, may it become true.
Amidah Standing prayer, quietly murmured, that is part of each daily service in the synagogue, alternatively called the Tefillah or the Shemoneh Esre.
Amora’im "The Commentators." The stratum of jurists who produced the Gemera. The report of legal debates making up the bulk of the Talmud. They flourished in Babylon and Palestine in the third, fourth and fifth centuries.
Apocrypha (a'PAHK-r'-fah) A collection of books, including the Books of Mac-cabees, that were not included in the final redaction of the Bible, but which are, nevertheless, important Jewish texts. Greek for "hidden."
Aramaic (air-a-MAY-ik) An ancient Semitic language related to Hebrew. The Gemara was written in Aramaic, as is the well known Kaddish prayer.
Aravah (pl. Aravot) Willow branch taken as one of the four species on the Feast of Tabernacles. Arba'ah Minim (al. the Four Species) - Palm, myrtle, willow and citron; another name for the lulav and etrog together, used on Sukkot.
Ariel Lion of God. Fireplace on God's altar
Aron haKodesh Literally: the Holy Ark. The special cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept in the synagogue The Holy Ark is called Heichal in Sephardic synagogues.
Ashkenazic (ahsh-ken-AHZ-ik) Referring to the culture of the predominant section of world Jewry that settled throughout north western Europe in the Middle Ages, and later in eastern Europe. It is distinguished from SEPHARDIC JEWERY through folk and religious traditions.
Aseret Yemei Teshuvah The ten days of penitence.
Ashkenazi (pl. Ashkenazim) Referring to Jews of Central and Eastern European origin.
Athid Lavo The coming age.
Atzeres (a-tseh-ress) A final assembly day. Talmudic name for Pentecost (Shavuos), also the name of the day that closes the Sukos autumn festival. Word derived from "gathering" or "detention," original meanings.
Aufruf (OOF-roof) calling up of a couple to the TORAH on the Shabbat before their wedding. Candy is usually thrown at the couple to symbolically wish them a sweet life together. Yiddish, for "calling up."
Av Eleventh month in the Hebrew calendar, falling in midsummer.
Avelut (ah-vay-LOOT) The year-long observances for the death of a parent. An AVEL is a mourner. Hebrew for "mourning."
Avinu our father
Avinu Malkenu Literally: our Father, our King. A prayer of supplication recited on Yom Kippur. A prayer said on the Days of Penitence and fast days.
Aviv Also called Abib. Nisan was known as Aviv/Abib prior to Babylonian captivity
Ayin 16th letter of the Hebrew alef-beit (alphabet)
Azarah (pl. Azarot) The Temple Courtyard.
Azazel Scapegoat. Goat sent into the wilderness signifying removal of the nation's sins
B.C.E. Before the Common Era. Jews avoid the Christian designation B.C ., which means Before Christ.Baal Shem Tov (bahl shem tov) An honorary name given to Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the founder of HASIDSM, the l8th century mystical revival move-ment. Hebrew for "master of the good name."
Baal Shem Tov (bahl shem tov) An honorary name given to Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the founder of HASIDSM, the l8th century mystical revival move-ment. Hebrew for "master of the good name."
Bar Mitzvah (bahr MITZ-vah) A boy of 13 who has reached the age of religious majority; also the ceremony marking that event. Hebrew for "son of the commandment."
Barchu (bahr-CHOO) The call to worship. The formal beginning of a service which is usually preceded by introductory prayers and blessings. Hebrew for "blessed."
Baruch ata Adonai (bah-RUCH ah-TAH ah-do-NAI ) Words that begin Hebrew blessings, commonly rendered in English as "Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe." This book contains many alternatives to that translation.
Bat Mitzvah (baht MITZ-vah) A girl of 13 who has reached the age of religious majority; also the ceremony marking that event. Hebrew for "daughter of the commandment."
Beit Din (Bayt Din) Literally house of judgment. A rabbinical court made up of three rabbis who resolve business disputes under Jewish law and determine whether a prospective convert is ready for conversion.
Beit HaMikdash (al. Bayt, Bet) House of Sanctity; synagogue. The sanctuary or Temple in Jerusalem.
Beit Lechem Bethlehem. House of bread. Birthplace of Yeshua and King David.
Bench/Benching (bench) Yiddish for "bless."
Betzah Roasted egg, a symbol for the second sacrifice of Passover.
Beyt (Beit, Beth) The second letter of the Hebrew Alef-Beyt (alphabet)
Bible The Hebrew Bible. It includes the books of the Torah, Prophets and Writings.
Bikkurim (al. Bikurim) The Offering of the First Fruit. Barley harvest First fruit
Bimah (bee-MAH) Raised platform in the synagogue from which worship services are lead.
Birchat HaChodesh (bir-CHAT ha-ko-DESH) The blessing of the New Moon.
Birchat Hamazon (bir-CHAHT hah-mah-ZON) Grace after a meal. Hebrew for "blessing for food."
Berakhah, Berakhot Blessing(s), Benediction(s)
Boray P'ree Hagafen (bo-RAY p'ree hah-GAH-fen) The blessing recited over wine or grape juice. Hebrew for "creator of the fruit of the vine."
Bris (bris) Yiddish for BRIT.
Brit ( breet ) Covenant, and covenant ceremony. Often refers to the covenant of circumcision.
Brit Habat (breet ha-BAHT) A term applied to many modern ceremonies used to welcome baby girls into the covenant of the people of Israel. Many other names are given to this type of ceremony. Hebrew for "covenant of the daughter."
Brit Milah (breet mee-LAH) The covenant of circumcision.
Buber, Martin ( 1878-1965 ) Existential theologian, popularise of Hasidic spirituality, bible scholar and philosopher.
Cabala "Tradition" The esoteric body of mystic literature centred around the Zohar, especially important in Hasidic thought and practice.
Cantor A leader of synagogue services trained in Jewish liturgical music.
C.E. Common Era. Jewish alternative to A.D., which means Anno Domini, Latin for "in the year of our Lord."
Challah (chah-LAH) Braided loaf of egg bread, traditional for Shabbat and holidays.
Chametz Leavening. Yeast, baking powder, mixes with a leavening agent, bread and bread crumbs. Literally sour.
Chanukkah Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah. Dedication, name of the winter holiday commemorating the Maccabean victory over the Syrians in 165 BCE.
Chanukiah an eight- branched menorah, used on Chanukkah where a candle is lit and added each day for eight days.
Chevra Kadisha (CHEV-rah kah-DEE-shah) The group responsible for the ritual preparation of a body for burial. In synagogues today, the CHEVRA KADISHA committee may help arrange meals, a MIYAN, and other details for mourners. Hebrew for "holy fellowship."
Cohen or cohenim Priest or priests
Cohen HaGadol The High Priest
Cholent (CHO-lent here the "ch" is as in "chair") A hearty stew popular among ASHKENAIC Jews consisting of barley, beans, potatoes and flanken. Because actual cooking is forbidden on the Sabbath, this dish which sim-mered over night, was a traditional meal served for lunch on Shabbat
Chumash (choo-MAHSH) One of the terms used for the TORAH or 5 Books of Moses. From the Hebrew for "five."
Conservative Religious movement, developed in the United States during the 20th century as a more traditional response to modernity than that offered by Reform.
Derech (Der-REK) Way, Path, Journey. Custom
D'rash (drahsh) Religious insight, often based on a text from the TORAH.
D'var Torah Hebrew for "words of Torah": an explication of a portion of the TORAH. (Plural is divrei Torah.)
Daven (DAH-vin) Yiddish for "pray."
Diaspora Exile. The dwelling of Jews outside the land of Israel.
Dino d’malkuto dino (dee-noh d’mal-khoo-oh dee-noh) "The law of the government is binding law." This famous Talmudic ruling, made in the Babylonian exile by Tanna Samuel (third century), became the basis for the civic loyalty of Jews outside the Holy Land. It gives to the law of the lands where they dwell the full force of religious law.
Draydl (DRAY-dl) Yiddish for a top used in playing a game of chance during the festival of Hannukah; in Hebrew a sivivon.
Eloheinu (al.Elohinu or Elohenu) Our God.
Elohim Go. gods, judges.
El Shaddai God Almighty.
Enlightenment Eighteenth century rationalist philosophical movement that challenged previously accepted doctrines.
Eretz Yisra'el The Land of Israel
Erev (EH-rev) Eve, especially of a holiday. Erev Shabbat is Friday evening. Hebrew for "the evening of."
Etrog (ET-rog) Citron. A lemon-like fruit, one of the four species used in observance of the holiday of Sukkot.
Ezrat Nashim - the outer Courtyard in the Sanctuary.
Flayshig (FLAY-shig) Yiddish word for meat food, which according to the laws of KASHRUT, may not be mixed with dairy products
Gaonim "Eminencies" Presidents of the two major academies at Sura and Pumpeditha, the ruling legal authorities in Jewry from the fifth to the tenth century.
Gehenna "Valley of Hinnom." In parable, the place of retribution after death. The valley of Hinnom in Jerusalem is by tradition the place where human sacrifices were burned in Canaanite idolatry.
Gemara (G'MAH-rah) The rabbinical exegesis of' the MISHNA, written in ARAMAIC, completed around the fifth century C.E. The Gemara and MISHNA to-gether form the TALMUD. ARAMAIC for "study."
Gemilut Hassadim (g'mee-LOOT chah-sah-DEEM) Acts of loving kindness.
Gezera (ge-zay-ra.) "Decree." The rulings of Ordained sages in the traditional line of legal competence, by which the common law has met changing social and economic conditions.
Get (get) Jewish divorce document.
Gilgul "Rolling." The concept of reincarnation an important feature of cabalism.
Glat Kosher "Flawlessly fit." Meat guaranteed by high religious authority to have been slaughtered according to law, and to have been found free of doubtful symptoms.
Gragger ( GRAH-ger) Noise-maker used on PURIM.
Gut Shabbes (gut SHAH-biss) A traditional Sabbath greeting. Yiddish for "A good Sabbath."
Hadas A myrtle branch. used during Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)
Hachnasat Orchim (hahch-nah-SAHT or-CHEEM) Hospitality. Hebrew for "welcoming guests."
Haftarah (hahf-tah-RAH) "Conclusion" referring to readings from the biblical books of the Prophets, which conclude TORAH services. Unrelated to the word "Torah."
Hag Hakatzir The Feast of Weeks, the official beginning of the summer heavest season (wheat crop specifically) Shavuot.
Haggadah ( hah-gah-DAH ) The book containing the liturgy of the Passover seder. Hebrew for "a telling."
Haimish (HAY-mish) That which gives one a sense of belonging. Yiddish for "homelike."
Halachah ( hah-lah-C HA ) An umbrella term for the entire body of Jewish law.
Hallel Refers to the passages contained in Tehilliim/Psalms 113-118
Hamentaschen (HU-men-tah-shen) A triangular pastry served on PURIM, said to resemble Haman's hat.
Hametz (chah-METZ) Food prepared with leavening, not eaten during the Passover holiday; anything which is not "kosher for Passover."
Hannukah (chah-noo-KAH) An 8-day winter festival commemorating the vic-tory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 139 B.C.E., celebrated in part by the lighting of a HANNUKIAH, an 8-branched candelabra. Hebrew for "dedi-cation."
Hannukiah (chah-noo-kee-YAH) A candelabra with nine branches-one for each of the 8 nights, plus a helper candle-used during the festival of HANNUKAH.
Haroset (chah-RO-set) A mixture of wine, nuts, and apples used as part of the PASSOVER SEDER. It is said to symbolise the mortar the Jews used to prepare bricks for the Egyptians.
Hashem (hah-SHEM) A name used to refer to God. Hebrew for "the name."
Haskala "Enlightenment." The introduction of modern western culture into the European ghettos, a matter of crucial controversy during the nineteenth century.
Hasidism (CHAH-see-diz'm) Eighteenth-century mystical revival movement.
Havdalah (hav-dah-LAH) Saturday evening ceremony that separates SHABAT from the rest of the week, also performed at the end of major holidays. Hebrew for "separation."
Havurah (chah-voo-RAH) Small, participatory groups that meet for prayer, study and celebration. Hebrew for "fellowship." (Plural is havurot.)
Hazzan (chah-ZAHN) Hebrew for "CANTOR." . .
Hazzanit (chah-zah-NEET) A female CANTOR. . .
Hechsher (HECH-sher) A symbol on food packaging that means its contents are kosher and were prepared under rabbinical supervision.
Heder (khay-der.) "Room." The schoolroom of the ghetto, briefly used during the early twentieth century, replaced by Talmudic Torah and day-school systems.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua ( 1907-1972 ) Scholar and philosopher who sought, among other things, to explain Judaism as a living relationship between human beings and God.
Hesped (HES-ped) Hebrew for "eulogy."
Hiddur Mitzvah (hee-DUR mitz-VAH) The rabbinic principle of adorning or decorating something used for religious purposes. For example, using a beautiful goblet as opposed to a paper cup to make a blessing over wine. Hebrew for "beautification of a mitzvah. "
Holocaust Remembrance Day The 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan (a week after PASSOVER) set aside by the government of Israel as the day to commemorate the Holocaust and its victims.
Hoshana Rabbah The last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles The day of the water drawing ceremony.
Hosheanah Save now, Hosanna
Huppah (choo-PAH) Wedding canopy.
Israel Independence Day The anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, held on the 5th of Iyar (about 2 weeks after PAssovER).
K'riah ( kree-AH ) The mourning custom of tearing a garment as a sign of grief. Hebrew for "rending."
Kaballah (kah-bah-LAH) The Jewish mystical tradition. Not a single book. From the Hebrew for "receive" or "tradition."
Kaddish (KAH-deesh) A prayer written in ARAMAIC, associated with mourning. It contains no mention of death, and is understood as an affirmation of life.
Kallah (KAH-lah) Bride, and one of the names of SHABBAT.
Karaites Devotees of the written law, from kara, the reading, which means the Torah. A movement arising in the eighth century which denied the authenticity and therefore the force of the common law in the Talmud and its subsequent rabbinic jurists. Karaism in time evolved its own common law, with bizarre variations from the main tradition. It lasted with dwindling energy and adherents until the nineteenth century, and is now virtually extinct.
Karpas (KAHR-pahs) A green vegetable used as part of the Passover SEDER.
Kashrut (kahsh-ROOT) System of laws that govern what Jews may and may not eat.
Kennos "Lamentations." Medieval poems of mourning for the fall of Zion, in the Ninth of Av liturgy.
Ketubah (k'too-BAH) Marriage contract.
Ketuvim Writings, Books of the Bible known as the Writings :-
- Tehillim (Psalms)
- Mishlei (Proverbs)
- Iyov (Job)
- The Five Megillot (Scrolls)
- Shir-HaShirim (Song of Songs)
- Rut (Ruth)
- Eikhah (Lamentations)
- Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)
- Ester (Esther)
- Dani'el (Daniel)
- 'Ezra (Ezra)
- Nechemyah (Nehemiah)
Divrei-HaYamim Alef/Beit (1st/2nd Chronicles)
Kibbudim (kee-boo-DEEM) Ceremonial honours.
Kibbutz (kee-BOOTZ) Israeli collective farm.
Kiddush (kee-DOOSH) Sanctification, and specifically the blessing over wine recited on SHABBAT and holidays.
Kippah (kee-pah) Skull cap, worn as a sign of reverence for God. The Yiddish term is "yarmulke." Plural is kippot. Hebrew for "cap."
Kohane/Kohen (KO-hayn) Today, used to refer to people who trace their an-cestry to the priestly family of Aaron. Hebrew word for "priest."
Kol Nidre (kol NEED-ray) The opening prayer of YOM KIPPUR, an annulment of all vows chanted to a haunting melody.
Kosher Foods deemed fit for consumption according to the laws of KASHRUT. The verb, to make kosher, is "kasher. "
Kvatter, Kvatterin (K'VAH-ter, K'VAH-ter-in) Hebrew for "godfather," "god-mother." -
Lag B'Omer "Thirty-third day in the omer." See omer and Sefira. On Lag B’Omer the mourning customs of the Sefira period are suspended.
Latkes (LAHT-kiz) Potato pancakes, associated with HANNNUKAH.
Lulav (LOO-luv) A bouquet of palm boughs, myrtle and willow branches used during the holiday of SUKKOT.
Ma'ariv (MAH-a'reev) The evening service.
Ma'asim Tovim (mah-ah-SEEM to-VEEM) Good deeds, righteous actions.
Machzor (mahch-ZOR) The special High Holiday prayer book. Hebrew for "cycle" (referring to the cycle of the year).
Maftir "He who concludes." The last call to the reading of the Torah on Sabbaths and holy days, which includes a reading of a selection from the prophets.
Maggid (mah-GEED) The telling of the story of PASSOVER at the SEDER. Hebrew for "telling."
Maimonides Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as the Rambam, lived from 1135-1204 in Spain and North Africa. One of the great scholars and philosophers in Jewish history, he is best known for two works: the Mishneh Torah, and The Guide for the Perplexed.
Maikil (may-kil) "one who makes light." A jurist known for liberal construction of the law. Opposed to makhmir, "one who makes heavy", a strict constructionist.
Maimuna ( my-MOO-nah ) A joyous celebration of SEPHARDIC origin, marking the end of PASSOVER.
Mashgiah (mash-gee-ah) "Overseer." An inspector who assures ritual fitness of food; also a headmaster in a yeshiva.
Matzah ( MAH-tzah ) Flat, unleavened bread eaten during the Holiday of PASSOVER, known as the "bread of affliction" and the "bread of haste." Plural is matzot.
Maven (MAY-vin) Yiddish for "expert."
Mazel Tov (MAH-zl tov) In common usage, "Congratulations." Hebrew for "good luck."
Megillah (m'gee-LAH) Usually refers to the scroll of the Book of Esther, read on Purim. Hebrew for "scroll."
Melamed "One who teaches." Elementary Hebrew instructor in former times.
Menorah (m'no-RAH) A candelabra, often used to refer to the HANNUKAH menorah, the HANNNUKIAH.
Mensch (mench) Yiddish word meaning person; an honourable, decent person. Menschen is the plural. Menchlichkeit meax~s "person-ness," the quality of being a mensch.
Mesader Kiddushin (m'SAH-der k'doo-SHIN) One who "orders" or leads a wedding ceremony, usually a rabbi.
Meturgeman A translator. The translator in Talmudic times translated Hebrew lectures of the sages into Aramaic as they spoke.
Mezuzah ( m'zoo-ZAH ) A small container, affixed to the door posts of a home containing the first two paragraphs of the SHEMA written on a parchment scroll. Hebrew for "door post."
Midrash (mid-RAHSH) A genre of literature consisting of imaginative exposi-tion of and stories based upon holy scriptures.
Mikdash Ma'at (meek-DAHSH m'AHT) The Jewish home. Hebrew for "little sanctuary." - ..
Mikvah (meek-VAH) Ritual bath
Milah ( mee-LAH ) Circumcision. BRIT MILAH is the covenant of circumcision
Milehig (MIL-chig) Yiddish term for dairy foods, which, according to the laws of KASHRUT, may not be mixed with meat products.
Mincha (meen-CHAH) The afternoon service.
Minhag (meen-HAHG) Custom. Plural is minhagim
Minyan (meen-YAHN) A prayer quorum of ten adult Jews. For Orthodox Jews, ten men.
Mishkan The Tabernacle.
Mishna ( meesh-NAH ) The first part of the TALMUD, comprised of six "orders" of laws regarding everything from agriculture to marriage, written in He-brew and compiled in the second century C.E.
Mishna Torah or Mishneh Torah. "Second Torah." The great medieval code of Jewish law written y Miamonides in the twelfth century.
Mitzvah ( meetz-VAH ) A commanded deed, a value-action. A fundamental Jewish concept about the obligation of the individual to perform command-ments set forth in the TORAH and elaborated by rabbinic tradition. Often it is used to mean a "good deed."
Mohel (MO-hel) A person trained in the rituals and procedures of BRIT MILAH, circumcision. The Yiddish pronunciation is "moy'1."
Motzi (mo-TZEE) Blessing over bread recited before mea1s. Hebrew for "bringer" or "brings."
Musaf (moo-SAHF) An additional service for SHABBAT and holidays which comes after the TORAH reading.
Ne’'ilah (n'ee-LAH) The final, closing service of YOM KIPPUR. Hebrew for "lock-ing" or "closing."
Neturai Karta "Guardians of the city." A small sect of ultra-zealous Jews living in Jerusalem.
Nevi'im Prophets, Books of the Bible known as Prophets
- Former Prophets (Historical)
- Y'hoshua (Joshua)
- Shof'tim (Judges)
- Sh'mu'el Alef/Beit (1st/2nd Samuel)
- M'lakhim Alef/Beit (1st/2nd Kings)
- Latter Prophets (Predicitive)
- Yesha'yahu (Isaiah)
- Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah)
- Yechezk'el (Ezekiel)
- The Minor Prophets (The Twelve)
- Hoshea (Hosea)
- Yo'el (Joel)
- 'Amos (Amos)
- 'Ovadyah (Obadiah)
- Yonah (Jonah)
- Mikhah (Micah)
- Nachum (Nahum)
- Havakuk (Habakkuk)
- Tz'fanyah (Zephaniah)
- Hagai (Haggai)
- Z'kharyah (Zechariah)
Niggun (nee-GOON) A wordless prayer like melody.
Nisan The twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, the spring month in which Passover falls at the full moon.
Omer A dry Hebrew measure, probably between three and four quarts. An omer of barley was brought to the Temple as an offering on the second day of Passover, at the start of barley harvest. See Sefira.
Oneg Shabbat (O-neg shah-BAHT) The informal gathering for conversation and community after Sabbath services. Hebrew for "joy of the Sabbath."
Orthodox An orthodox Jew is one who believes that all of Jewish law is binding.
Parasha (pah-rah-SHAH) The weekly TORAH portion read at services. The Torah is divided into 54 parshiyot ( plural ) . One ( and occasionally two ) is read each week. Hebrew for "portion."
Pareve (pahrv or PAHR-veh) Neutral foods that can be eaten with either dairy or meat meals.
Parokhet Curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Beit HaMikdash
Passover The spring festival commemorating the exodus from Egypt.
Pentateuch The five books of Moses; the TORAH. From the Greek, meaning "five scrolls."
Pesach (PEH-sahch) Hebrew for "PASSOVER."
Pharisees (FAIR-i-seez) The spiritual leaders of the Jewish people during the latter part of the second Temple period.
Pidyon Haben (peed-YON hah-BEN) The ceremony of redeeming the first born son from a priest (kohane) .
Pilgrim Festival/Feast Shalosh Regalim. Three times a year, the Israelites, according to the instructions of the Torah, went in joyous celebration to Jerusalem. Three feasts/festivals observed during this time are Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
Purim (POO-reem) A late-winter festival that celebrates the rescue of the Jews from destruction, as told in the Biblical book of Esther.
Pushke (PUSH-keh) A coin box reserved for TZEDAKAH.
Rabbi A seminary-ordained member of the clergy. "The rabbis" refers to the men who codified the TALMUD. Hebrew for "teacher."
Reconstructionism Religious movement begun in the United States in the twentieth century by Mordecai Kaplan, which views Judaism as an evolving religious civilisation.
Reform A movement begun in nineteenth-century Germany that sought to reconcile Jewish tradition with modernity. Reform Judaism does not recognise the divine authority of HALACHAH.
Responsa A genre of literature composed of the legal answers (responses) to situational questions of Jewish law, and like legal opinion in all traditions, has the weight of law.
Rishonim (ree-show-nim) "The first ones." The group of Hebrew jurists and commentators, living mostly in Europe and the Mediterranean littoral, who carried forward the common law from the tenth to the seventeenth century.
Rosenszweig, Franz ( 1886-1929) German Jewish philosopher and existen-tialist thinker.
Rosh Hashanah (rosh hah-shah-nah) The fall holiday that marks the begin-ning of the Jewish year; the day on which the SHOFAR is sounded.
Rosh Hodesh (rosh CHO-desh) The first day of every lunar month. Hebrew for "head of the month." -
Sabra (SAB-rah) A native born Israeli.
Safed (SAH-fed) A picturesque town in Northern Israel overlooking the sea of Galilee. In the l6th century it was the scene of the great flowering of the Jewish mystical tradition known as Lurianic Kabbalah. Pronounced "Tz'faht" in Hebrew. '
Sandek (SAHN-dek) The person who holds the baby during a circumcision; godfather. Sandeket is a new term for a woman performing the same func-tion.
Savora’im "Reasoners" or reflectors. Post-Talmodic editors and jurists, about the sixth to eighth century.
Schmaltz (shmaltz. Yiddish for melted or rendered chicken fat, schmaltz is used in English for "corn" as in excessive sentimentality; also as an adjec-tive, schmaltzy (corny).
Seder The PASSOVER talking-feast. Seder can also be used to describe the order of rituals at other meals; for example, the SHABBAT seder, and the TU B'SHVAT seder. Hebrew for "order."
Sedra (SID-rah) Another term for the weekly Torah portion. See Parasha.
Sefira "Counting" The period of seven weeks counted off day by day from the second day of Passover to Pentecost (Shavuos). Also called the counting of the omer, because it commenced with the bringing of the barley to the Temple. In our times a period of semi-national mourning.
Semikha "Bringing near or laying on." The ceremony of ordination of a Hebrew jurist, also
Sephardic Referring to the culture of Jews who are descendants of the Jews of Medieval Spain, and now used to describe Jews of the Mediterranean region. Sephardim are distinguished from ASHKENAZIM (see above).
Seudah (s'oo-DAH) Hebrew for "feast," "banquet" or "festive meal."
Seudat Mitzvah (s'oo-DAHT mitz-VAH) The festive celebration of a milestone. Hebrew for " a commanded meal."
Sh'chitah (sh'chee-TAH) Laws governing the KOHER slaughter and inspection of animals.
Shabbat ( shah-BAHT) Hebrew for Sabbath. In Yiddish, Shabbos or Shabbes.
Shaila (shy-loh) "Question." A query about religious practice. The answer is called a t’shuva The literature of shailas and t’shuvas of eminent jurists forms an important part of Hebrew study.
Shalakh Manos "The sending of gifts." One of the important ceremonies of Purim.
Shalom A universal Hebrew greeting which means "hello," "good-bye" and "peace."
Shalom Aleichem (SHAH-lom ah-LAY-chem) A popular Hebrew greeting meaning "peace unto you." Also, the pseudonym of Sholom Rabinowitz ( 1859-1916), one of the greatest Yiddish writers of all time.
Shalom Bayit ( SHAH-lom BAH-yit) The principle of a peaceful home. Hebrew for "peaceful house."
Shalosh Regalim (Sha-LOSH Re-GA-lim) Pilgrim festival, Three times a year, the Israelites, according to the instructions of the Torah, went in joyous celebration to Jerusalem. Three feasts/festivals observed during this time are Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
Shamash (shah-MAHSH) The ninth candle on a HANNUKIAH used. to light the others; also a synagogue sexton. Hebrew for "helper or one who serves."
Shanna Tova (shah-NAH-to-VAH) Popular Jewish New Year greeting. Hebrew for "good year."
Shatnaze A mixture of linen and wool banned by Mosiac law.
Shavous "Weeks." The feast of Penticost, the conclusion of the seven weeks of the Sefira, fifty days after the second day of Passover. Also called the holiday of the Giving of the Law, since the time coincides with the revelation at Sanai.
Shavuot (shah-voo-OT) The late spring harvest festival of first fruits, which also commemorates the giving of the TORAH on Mt. Sinai (see Shavous).
Shechinah (sh'-CHEE-nah) God's feminine attributes, often referred to as a separate entity; God's presence in the world.
Sheheheyanu (she-heh-cheh-YAH-nu) A common prayer of thanksgiving. Hebrew for "has kept us alive."
Sheitel (Shy-tell) the wig worn by women in the ghetto, adopted by some devout women of the present day in modish transformations.
Sheloshim (shlo-SHEEM) The month following the burial of a loved one, a period during which mourners attend services and refrain from joyful activ-ities. Hebrew for "thirty."
Shema (sh'mah) The most often-recited Jewish statement that declares God's Oneness: Listen, Israel, Adonai our God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Sheva B'rachot (SHEH-vah b'rah-CHOT) Seven marriage blessings. Hebrew for "seven blessings."
Shiva (shi-vah) The seven-day mourning period that begins on the day of a funeral. From the Hebrew for "seven." .
Shloshim (sh’loe-shim) "Thirty." The first mounth of mourning after a death, which includes Shiva.
Shofar A rams horn trumpet. Used as warning, call to arms, and in celebration.
Sh’ma "Hear" The creed of Judaism, Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.
Sh’mini Atzeres "Eighth Day, Final Assembly." The concluding holy day of the Sukos festival, in which the rites of the hut, palm branch, and fruit are not observed.
Shmone Esrai (sh’moe-neh ess-ray) "The eighteen." The central service of the Jewish liturgy, recited three times daily, four times on Shabbat and holy days and five times on Yom Kippur. Also called the Amidah, or Standing Prayer, because one recites it on one’s feet, and Tefilah, or "The Prayer" par excellence.
Shmooz (shmooz) A Yiddish word that means "to chat."
Shoah ( sho-AH ) Hebrew for Holocaust. '
Shoehet ( SHO-chet) A person trained in the rituals and procedure of KOSHER slaughter.
Shofar (sho-FAHR) A ram's horn, blown on ROSH HASHANAH.
Shtetl (shteh'tl) Small town, especially one in Eastern Europe inhabited by ASHKENAZIC Jews before the Holocaust.
Shul (shool) Synagogue.
Shulkhan Arkukh "The ready table." The authoritative code (with its many Commentaries) of present day Hebrew law, composed by Joseph Caro.
Siddur (see-DOOR) Prayer book.
Simcha (seem-CHAH) Joy, also a celebration of joy or party.
Simchat Torah (seem-CHAHT to-RAH) The holiday at the end of SUKKOT which marks the beginning and end of the annual TORAH reading cycle. Hebrew for "rejoicing over the Torah."
Siman Tov U'mazel Tov ( SEEM'N tov oo-MAH'ZL tov) A song of good wishes sung at joyous celebrations, especially weddings. Hebrew for "a good sign and good luck."
Sofer ( SO-fehr) Scribe. A person who is trained in the writing of TORAH scrolls and other religious documents.
Suda (sue-da) "Banquet." Specifically, the feast that is part of Purim day, also any festive meal making a religious occasion
Sukkah (soo-KAH) A temporary hut or booth erected for the holiday of SUKKOT.
Sukkot (soo-KOT) The fall harvest festival (also plural of SUKKAH).
Synagogue A place constructed/fully dedicated for gathering and studying. After the destruction of the Temple, synagogues became a place of corporate worship.
Tahor Rittually pure. Able to enter the Beit HaMikdash or Mishkan
Tallit (tah-LEET) Prayer shawl. A four-cornered shawl with specially tied fringes worn generally at morning worship services. Yiddish pronunciation is "TAH-lis." ~ .
Talmud (TAHL-mood) Encyclopaedic compilation of rabbinic thought, lore and law consisting of the MISHNA and GEMARA (and commentary) completed around the 5th century C.E.
Tam'ei Rittually unpure. Not able to enter the Beit HaMikdash or Mishkan.
Tammuz The tenth month of the Hebrew calendar, falling in summer time
Tanakh (tah-NAHCH) The Hebrew acronym for the BIBLE. It stands for TORAH (five books of Moses), Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).
Tanna’im "Teachers." The jurists whose decisions are recorded in the Mishna and associated legal literature of the four centuries from 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.
Targum "Translation." Specifically, translations in Aramaic of the Scriptures, the most famous being the Targum on the Pentateuch written by the convert Onkelos.
Tashlieh (tahsh-LICH) A ceremony that takes place on the afternoon of ROSH HASHANAH where sins (bread crumbs are often used) are symbolically cast off into a body of water. "You will cast their sins into the depth of the sea" (Micah 7:19).
Tefilah (t'fee-LAH) Hebrew word for prayer. Also another name for the AMI-DAH. '
Teshuvah (t'shoo-VAH) Repentance. From the Hebrew for "turning."
The Temple The first building associated with Jewish worship is often referred to as "The Holy Temple." It was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon around the l0th century B.C.E. The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. A second temple was built, but it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. The Temple was the physical symbol of God's presence on Earth and prayers for its rebuilding are a symbolic call for the coming of the messiah.
Tikkun Olam (tee-KOON o-LAHM) Taking responsibility for correcting the damage done by people to each other and to the planet. Hebrew for "re-pairing the world." . .
Tisha B'av (tee-SHAH b'ahv) The 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av which commemorates the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem.
Tishrei First month of the Hebrew civil calendar: September-October.
Torah (to-RAH) First five books of the Hebrew BIBI.E (Genesis, Exodus, Leviti-cus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), portions of which are read every SHAB-BAT. "Torah" is also used to refer to Jewish learning in general. -
Tosephos "Additions." A running commentary on the Talmud composed mainly by Rishonim of France, Spain and Germany
Tractate A treatise, which usually refers to a section of the TALMUD. The TALMUD is divided into 6 "orders" or major divisions, and further sub-divided into 63 tractates.
T’shuva "Return." Repentance; also the answer of an authority to a religious query.
Trafe (trayf) The opposite of kosher. From the Hebrew for "torn."
Tu B'shvat (too b'SHVAHT) The l5th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. A. festival celebrating the New Year for Trees.
Tzedakah (tz'dah-KAH) Righteous giving, charity.
Ulpan (ool-PAHN) An intensive course in conversational Hebrew.
Yamim Noraim (yah-MEEM no-rah-EEM) The High Holidays of ROSH HASHANAH and YOM KIPPUR. Hebrew for "days of awe."
Yarmulke (yar-mool-keh) Skull cap. Yiddish for "kippah. "
Yarzeit (YAHR-tzeit) The anniversary of a death, when it i~ traditional to light a 24-hour candle. Yiddish for "a year's time."
Yeshiva (y'shee-VAH) An academy of Jewish learning; usually used to describe Orthodox institutions.
Yichus (YICH'es) Yiddish word that means family status or lineage.
Yiddish Language spoken by ASHKENAZIC Jews; a combination of early German and Hebrew. .
Yiddishkeit From the German and Yiddish, "Jewishness." A term covering the traditional culture of observant European Jewry.
Yizkor (YEEZ-kor) A prayer in a memorial service that asks God to remember the souls of parents and other deceased relatives and friends. It is customarily recited On YOM KIPPUR and at the end Of SUKKOT, PASSOVER and SHAVUOT. From the Hebrew for "May [God] remember." .
YMHA/YWHA Young Men's Hebrew Association/Young Women's Hebrew As-sociation: The Jewish versions of the YM/YWCA.
Yom Ha-atzmaut (yom hah-ahtz-mah-OOT) Hebrew for "Israel Independence Day."
Yom Hashoah (yom hah-sho-AH) Hebrew for "Holocaust Remembrance Day."
Yom Kippur (yom kee-POOR) Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jew-ish calendar. A day of fasting and repentance.
Zohar (ZO-hahr) "Book of Splendour." The major work of Jewish mysticism, probably written by Rabbi Moses De Leon in the 13th century. The Zohar is a mystical commentary on the TORAH.
Materal sources include- Living a Jewish Life, Anita Diamon, Harper.
This is my G-d, Herman Wou, Collins
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