Aishes Chayil – a song in praise of the Jewish woman

Aliyah – the honor of making a blessing over the Torah reading in the synagogue

Amud – a small lectern located toward the front of the synagogue where the person leading the prayers stands

Arovos – two branches of a willow tree used ritually on the holiday of Sukkos

Arvus - the responsibility one Jew has for his fellow Jew

Ba'al Teshuvah - a returnee to observant Judaism

Badeken – the Jewish wedding’s veiling ceremony in which the groom confirms that the bride is his intended and lowers the veil over her face

Bar-Mitzvah – when a Jewish boy reaches the age of thirteen and becomes obligated to perform all the commandments of the Torah

Bashert– the spouse G-d has designated for a particular person

Bas-Mitzvah – when a Jewish girl reaches the age of twelve

and becomes obligated to perform all the commandments of the Torah

Beis Medrash – a study hall where the study of Torah takes place

Bentch Licht – Yiddish for “Blessing the Lights”, referring to the ritual of lighting candles at the start of the Sabbath and the Festivals

Bencher – a small booklet that contains religious songs and commonly said blessings over food

Bikur Cholim – visiting the sick

Bimah – a small, bounded-off platform in the center of the synagogue where the Torah reading takes place

Birkas Hamazon – Grace after Meals

Bracha – a blessing

BT - Ba'al Teshuva

Challah – braided loaf of bread that is used for Shabbos and holiday meals

Chol Hamoed – intermediate days of the Sukkos and Pesach Festivals

Chometz – leavened bread and other grain-based items that are forbidden during the week of Passover

Chosson – a groom

Cholent – a traditional Shabbos food that consists of meat, potatoes, barley, and beans slow cooked together

Chumash – the Five Books of Moses

Chupah – the wedding canopy

Conversion - when a gentile undergoes a halachic process to become a Jew

Davening - Jewish Prayer

Derech Eretz – basic good manners and politeness

Diaspora – anywhere outside of the Land of Israel

Erev Shabbos – Friday before sundown

Esrog – a citrus fruit that is one of the Four Species which are ritually waved on the holiday of Sukkos

FFB - Frumm From Birth

Frum - an observant person

Gadol (Plural - Gedolim) – one of the leading rabbinic authorities of the era

Gemarah – completed in Babylonia 1,500 years ago, a compilation of Jewish legal and ethical discussions that comprise a major component of the Talmud

Gentile  a person whose mother is not Jewish, and has not converted!

Hachnosas Orchim – The Mitzvah of hospitality

Hadasim – three branches from a myrtle tree used ritually on the holiday of Sukkos

Haggada – a book used at the Seder to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt

Halacha - Jewish Law as part of the chain of tradition from Sinai.

Halachically – performed in a manner which conforms to Jewish Law

Hamotzie – the blessing recited over bread at the beginning of a meal

Hashgachah - rabbinical supervision

Havdallah – a short prayer recited at the close of the Sabbath over wine, fragrant spices, and a braided candle

Intermarriage - when a Jew marries a non-Jew

Jew - a person born of a Jewish Mother

Kabbalah – the mystical tradition of the Torah

Kabbalas Panim – the reception at the beginning of an observant Jewish wedding

Kabbalas Shabbos – the Friday evening prayer service when we greet the arrival of the Sabbath

Kaddish – a short prayer that is commonly recited in memory of departed relatives

Kallah – a bride

Kashrus – the Jewish dietary laws

Kesuba – the Jewish wedding contract

Kiddush – a blessing over wine recited at Sabbath and Festival meals

Kiruv - Hebrew term for bringing another Jew closer to Torah observance.

KofK – one of the large kosher supervisory agencies in North America

Kohein – a Jew who is a descendant of Aaron the High Priest

Kollel – a select group of Yeshiva students who receive a small stipend for their Torah scholarship and who have dedicated themselves to full-time Torah study

Kosher - food that is permitted to be eaten after all biblical and rabbinical prohibitions are taken into account.

L'shem Shomayim – for the sake of Heaven, to the exclusion of any ulterior motive

Lubavitch – a group of Hasidic Jews headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, known for their extensive outreach activities

Lulov – a palm branch used ritually on the holiday of Sukkos

Maariv – evening prayer

Mazal Tov – congratulations

Mechitzah - structural separation between men and women in a synagogue

Megillas Esther – the biblical Book of Esther read from a parchment scroll both evening and day on Purim

Menorah – the candelabra used on the eight nights of Chanukah

Menucha – rest

Mezuzah – a parchment with two sections from the Torah affixed to doorposts in an observant family’s house

Mikva – ritual bath used to attain spiritual purity

Mincha – afternoon prayer

Minyan (Plural – Minyanim) – A quorum of at least ten Jewish men required for public prayers

Mishna – compilation of the Oral Law by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi circa 200 CE

Mitzva – a commandment of the Torah

Musaf – additional prayer recited on the Sabbath and Festivals

Neilah – the final prayer recited on Yom Kippur

OK – one of the large kosher supervisory agencies in North America

Orthodox - a term we are not going to use (see Observant)

The term, Orthodox, will not be used in this booklet because its sociological meaning is unique to the last 100 plus years in America; it was used to contrast the more religious Jews from their brethren who were conservative and reform adherents.

We will use the term “Observant” which more accurately describes the scope of our tradition over the past 3,500 years.

OU – the largest kosher supervisory agency in North America

Pesach – the Jewish holiday of Passover celebrating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt

Pidyon HaBen – a ceremony involving a first born son in which money is given to the Kohein after the thirtieth day of the boy’s life

Rashi Script – an alternative font for the Hebrew alphabet

Rebbe - a teacher who imparts Torah knowledge and tradition

Satmar – a group of Hasidic Jews headquartered in Brooklyn, New York

Schlugged Kaporos – an ancient Jewish custom of waving a chicken over one’s head then donating it to charity, as an atonement before Yom Kippur

Schtick – when guests, intent on making the bride and groom happy, perform all kinds of amusing dances and tricks

Seder – a evening full of ritual, reenacting the exodus from Egypt, conducted on the first two nights of Passover

Sefer Torah – a parchment scroll of the Five Books of Moses usually stored in a special closet called an “Aron Kodesh” (Holy Ark)

Semicha – Rabbinical ordination that certifies an individual competent to render decisions in matters of Jewish religious law

Seudah – meal

Shabbos or Sabbath - the 25 hour period from sundown Friday to approximately one hour after sundown on Saturday

Shabbosdik – an aura reflective of the special quality of Shabbos

Shacharis – morning prayer

Shadchan – matchmaker

Shalach Manos – gifts of food given to friends on the Jewish holiday of Purim

Sholom Aleichem – a song welcoming the angels that accompany a Jew home from synagogue on Shabbos eve

Shatnes – a mixture of linen and wool biblically forbidden in clothing

Shavuos – the Jewish festival celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai

Shemonah Esrai – the silent devotion - a prayer that is the core of the Jewish prayer service

Shmini Atzeres – a festival that is celebrated the eighth day after the onset of Sukkos

Shofar – ram’s horn that is sounded on the Jewish New Year

Shomer Shabbos - Sabbath observer according to the Torah

Shul - synagogue

Shulchan Aruch – the principal code of Jewish Law compiled in the sixteenth century by Rabbis Yosef Karo and Moshe Isserles

Siddur – a Jewish prayer book

Simchas Torah the yearly celebration of completing the public reading of the entire Torah

Sofer – a scribe who is certified to write the parchments for holy writ e.g. the Sefer Torah, Tefillin, and Mezuzah

Streimel – a fur hat that Jews used to wear in Eastern Europe and that some Hasidic Jews still wear in modern times

Sukkah – a temporary booth-like dwelling Jews live in during the seven day Festival of Booths

Sukkos – the seven day Festival of Booths

Synagogue – a Jewish house of prayer

Tachlis – the Hebrew word for “purpose”, with regard to matrimony used to convey the idea that observant dating ought to be purposeful and marriage-oriented

Tallis Katan – a four-cornered fringed garment, where the fringes are called tzitzis, worn by Jewish males in fulfillment of a biblical commandment

Talmid – disciple or student

Talmud - the written transcription of the entire oral law

Tanach – an acronym for Torah (The Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ksuvim (Holy Writings), which together comprise the Jewish Bible

Tefillin – leather boxes containing holy writ parchments, attached to leather straps that Jewish adult males wear on their arm and head every day

Tenoim – an agreement, signed before the wedding ceremony, between the families of the bride and groom, proclaiming that all outstanding financial obligations of both sides have been met

Tisha B’av – the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the Jewish national day of mourning commemorating the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem approximately 2,400 and 2,000 years ago respectively, it is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar

Torah - the Five Books of Moses and the Oral Tradition from Sinai

Treif - not kosher

Tzitzis – the fringes of a four cornered garment Jewish males are required to wear

Tz'nius - or "Jewish Fashion" the concept of modesty not only in dress but in behavior as well.

Ultra Orthodox - See Orthodox

Yarmulke – a head covering worn by Jewish males

Yeshiva - school where Torah is taught

Yichud – with regard to the marriage ceremony, when the newlywed couple is escorted to a private room where they will share their first few moments together as husband and wife before rejoining their guests at the wedding banquet

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement spent by Jews in fasting and prayer

Yom Tov – a Jewish Festival

Zemiros – religious songs that are commonly sung together at the Sabbath table

Last updated on: 06/16/2019
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