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Jewish Glossary

Last updated: 2003-08-29

Learn the meanings of many Jewish, Hebrew and Yiddish words!

Jewish Word Spelling Guide
abbr.=abbreviated
esp.=especially
Heb.=Hebrew
lit.=literally
n=noun
pl.=plural
pron.=pronounced
usu.=usually
v=verb
Yid.=Yiddish

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A
abba
(Heb.) father

Acharonim
lit.=the last ones: post-Rishonim commentators

Achashverosh
Persian king in Book of Esther

Adar
6th Jewish month (Feb-Mar), 14th is Purim

Adon Olam
"Master of the World," a concluding hymn

afikomen
last bit of matzah, eaten at end of Seder

Agadah
non-legal rabbinic writings

agunah
lit.=chained one: wife of an M.I.A.; woman whose husband refuses to grant a divorce

ahava
(Heb.) love [n]
ainikle
(Yid.) grandchild
Aleinu
"It is Upon Us," a concluding hymn

al kiddush HaShem
for the sanctification of G-d

alav hashalom
"(May he/she) rest in peace."

aliyah
lit.=ascent: immigration to Israel

am ha'aretz
lit.=nation of the land: ignorant person

Amidah
lit.=standing: long prayer said while standing

Amora'im
lit.=explainers: Gemarah-era commentators (200-500 C.E.)

Ani Ma’amin
lit.=I believe: phrase that begins each of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith

aravot
willow sprigs, used on Succot

arba kanfos
lit.=four corners: tzitzit

Arba Kanfos
The Four Corners of the Earth

Aretz
lit.=land: Israel

aron (hakodesh)
(the holy) cabinet for Sefer Torah

Aseret HaDibrot
The Ten Commandments

Aseret Yimei Teshuva
The Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, a time of introspection and semi-mourning

Ashkenazi
of Eastern European Jewish tradition

Ashrei
"Fortunate Are," a popular alphabetic prayer (Psalm 145)

Asoroh B'Tevet
winter fast for Babylonian siege of Jerusalem

aufruf
held the Shabbat before a wedding, the throwing of candy, etc. at a groom after he reads the Haftorah

Av
11th Jewish month (Jul-Aug), 9th is Tisha B'Av

av
(Heb.) father of...

avel/avelut
mourner/mourning

aveyra
sin; transgression of a "shalt not"

avodah
work [n], esp. in service of G-d

avodah zarah
lit.=strange work: idolatry

ayrusin
marital engagement

ayshet chayil
a woman of valor

Ayshet Chayil
the entire last chapter of Proverbs, sung on Erev Shabbat and at weddings, describing a "woman of valor"


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B
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Ba'al
a pagan god Jews are told in the Torah not to worship

ba'al
(Heb.) master, owner; one who...

ba'al habayis
(...of the house) host [n]

ba'al koreh
(...who reads) Torah reader

ba’al simcha
(... of happiness) the celebrant, esp. the bar or bat mitzvah

ba'al teshuva
(...who returns) newly observant Jew

ba'al toke'a
(...of the sound) shofar blower

ba'alabusta
(Yid.) hostess; friendly woman

babushka
kerchief worn as headcovering

bachor
first-born male child

baheyma
domesticated beast; "Animal!"

Bamidbar
Numbers (4th bk. of Torah)

bar mitzva
13-year-old boy now responsible for fulfilling mitzvot; the ceremony at which this rite of passage occurs

bat...
daughter of...

bat mitzva
12-year-old girl now responsible for fulfilling mitzvot; the ceremony at which this rite of passage occurs

B.C.E/C.E.
Before the Common Era/Common Era

b'dikat chametz
the ceremonial, pre-Pesach search for chametz

becher
(Yid.) wine goblet

bedecken
the veiling of the bride

Beit HaT’futzot
The Diaspora Museum, in Tel Aviv

b'emet
lit.= in truth: "Really?"; "Really!"

Be'ersheva
lit.=well of the oath: Israeli city in the Negev

Beit...
pron."bate": House of... [Sefardi pron.]

Beit Din
lit.=house of law: rabbinical court

Beit HaMikdash
Holy Temple, twice destroyed

Beit Lechem
lit.=House of bread (Heb.) Bethlehem, Rachel's burial place

Beit (Ha)Midrash
room, building for religious study

ben...
son of...

bentch
(Yid.) say Grace After Meals

bentch licht
(Yid.) light and bless the Shabbat candles

Beth...
pron. "bett": House of... [Ashkenazi pron.]

biblical
of the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, or the Writings

bikur cholim
visiting the sick

bimah
Torah-reading table in synagogue

Birkat HaMazon
lit.=blessing of the food: Grace After Meals

Birkat Kohanim
the blessing of the kohanim (see "duchan")

bitachon
(Heb.) trust [n]

biz hundret un tzvensik yor
lit.=to a hundred and twenty years: "(May you) live a long life." [Moses lived to 120]

blood libel
the pernicious libel that the blood of Christian children is used to make kosher wine or matzah

b’nai mitzvah
more than one bar/bat mitzvah celebrant

boch'r
yeshiva student

borscht
cold beet soup

Boruch Atoh
"Blessed are You..."

boruch haboh
lit.=bless the arrivers: "Welcome!"

boychik
(Yid.) boy, term of endearment

bracha
blessing

B'reshit
Genesis

brit (mila)
lit.=covenant: circumcision

b'samim
fragrant spices smelled during Havdala

b'shert
destined; one's destined mate/spouse

b'tayavon
lit.=in appetite: Bon Appetit!

bubbe
(Yid.) grandmother

bubbe meiseh
lit.=grandmother's story: old-wive's tale

bulvan
(Yid.) ox-like person

bupkes
(Yid.) nothing; something worthless

b'vakasha
"Please"; "You're welcome."

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C
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


cacamamie
half-baked, silly

calla
(Heb.) bride

C.E.
Common Era

Chabad
see "Lubavitch"

chag
holiday, esp. a religious one

chai
(Heb.) life

challah
braided egg bread for Shabbat and holidays

chaloshes
(Yid.) disgusting

chalutz
pioneer; early Israeli settler, esp. on kibbutz

chamalyeh
(Yid.) punch, hard hit [n]

chametz
leavened products forbidden on Pesach

Chanukah
winter holiday for defeating the Syrian Hellenists

chanukia
Chanukah menorah

charoset
Seder condiment of chopped apples, walnuts, and wine; recalls mortar made by Hebrew slaves in Egypt

chas v'sholom
lit.=mercy and peace: "G-d forbid!"

chasana
wedding

chasid (pl. chasidim)
member of an Orthodox Jewish sect

chatchke(s)
knick-knack(s)

chaver
(Heb.) friend

chavruta
study partner or group

chaya (ruah)
(wicked) wild animal

chayrem
state of excommunication, shunning

Chazal
abbr. of Chachomim, Zichronom L'Vracha: our Sages, may their Memories (be) for a Blessing.

chazan
cantor

chazer
pig

chazerai
(Yid.) disgusting stuff, trash

chazuka
claim of ownership based on repeated use

cheder
religious lesson, or where it's held

chesed
(Heb.) kindness

Cheshvan
2nd Jewish month (Oct-Nov)

chevra kadisha
lit.=holy association: burial society

chidush
innovation; revelation

chilul HaShem
lit.=defamation of the Name: a scandalous act or statement

chinuch
early childhood education

chiyuv
lit.=obligated: one to whom an honor is due in shul

chochma
(Heb.) wisdom

chochom (pl. chochomim)
sage; wise one

chodesh
lit.=new (moon): month

Chol HaMo'ed
middle 4 days of 8-day holidays, esp. Pesach and Sukkot. rules of the holiday apply, but work is permitted.

cholent
24-hour stew for Shabbat, holidays, etc.

choson
(Heb.) groom

chrain
(Yid.) horseradish

chug
activity group

Chumash
lit.=five: The Five Books of Moses

chuppah
wedding canopy

churban
destruction, ruin [n]

chutzpah
sass, moxy; nerve, gall

chiloni
Israeli non-affiliated Jew

Converso
Jew forced to convert under the Inquistion; a modern descendant living in the southwest U.S.

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D
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


daf yomi
lit.=page of the day: practice of learning a page of Gemara each day

darshen
to interpret, esp. in religious issues

daven
(Yid.) pray

Dayenu
"It Would Have Sufficed," a Seder song; "Enough already!"

dayun
(Heb.) judge [n]

derech eretz
lit.=the way of the land: courtesy

Diaspora
those Jews not living in Israel

din
(Heb.) law

drasha
sermon

dreidel
toy top used on Chanukah

duchan
blessing the congregation [v], done by kohanim

D'varim
Deuteronomy

dvar Torah
lit.=word of Torah: speech on enlightening biblical passage or any aspect of religious thought

dybbuk
(Yid.) dead person's soul inhabiting a living person

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E
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Eicha
Lamentations

Einsatzgruppen
Special Forces of the Nazi Army

El Al
lit.=to above: Israel's airline

Elul
12th Jewish month (Aug-Sept)

emunah
(Heb.) faith

eppis
something undefinable, a "you-know-what"

Eretz Yisrael
(Heb.) The Land of Israel

Erev...
lit.=evening: the night before, esp. Shabbat or yom tov; like New Year's Eve

eruv
series of posts connected with string that fence in an area, making it permissible to carry on Shabbat in that area

etrog
citron, used on Sukkot

ezra
(Heb.) help [n]

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F
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Falasha
lit.=wanderer: derogatory name for Ethiopian Jews

far vus
(Yid.) for what, why

farblonget
(Yid.) lost

farbrengen
(Yid.) party [n], esp. religious or family

farbrent
(Yid.) burning; zealous

farfallen
(Yid.) collapsed, fallen in

felafel
pita sandwich with fried chick-pea balls

ferdrimmeled
(Yid.) dreaming, daydreaming

ferklempt
(Yid.) clenched

fermished
(Yid.) mixed up, messed up

ferpitzed
(Yid.) dressed up

fershtays
(Yid.) understand

fershimmeled
(Yid.) moldy

ferschnoshked
(Yid.) drunk

fertootsed
(Yid.) over-dressed, overdone

fleischig
containing or relating to meat

fress
(Yid.) gobble

fresser
(Yid.) glutton

freylach
(Yid.) festive

frosk
(Yid.) slap

fumfer
(Yid.) mumble

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G
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

gaon
head of a Babylonian yeshiva; composer of the Talmud

gabbai
rabbi's synagogue assistant

Gallil
lit= rolling: the northern, grassy, hilly part of Israel

Galut
lit.=exile: where the Diaspora lives

Gan Aiden
The Garden of Eden

ganev
thief; clever person

gan k’tanim
lit.=garden of (the) small (ones): kindergarten

gantze megilla
(Yid.) the whole story

gantze mishpocha
(Yid.) the whole family

gartl
(Yid.) belt, sash

gefilt croht
stuffed cabbage

gefilte fish
fish cakes

gelilah
rolling and re-clothing of Torah scroll after hagbah

gelt
(Yid.) money, esp. as Chanukah gift

Gemara
commentary on the Mishna

gemilut chasadim
acts of kindness

genizah
storage/burial for worn-out, but holy, papers, books, etc.

ger
convert [n]

geshmackt
(Yid.) delicious, lip-smacking

geshrai
(Yid.) cry, shout, yell [n]

get
divorce document

gezunt
(Yid.) healthy

gezuntheit
(Yid.) good health

glatt
lit.=smooth: highest level of fleishig kashrut

glick
(Yid.) good fortune

Goldena Medina
lit.=Golden Country: the United States

golem
automaton; mindless person

gomel
one who has just undergone a dangerous experience

gorgl
(Yid.) neck

gornisht
(Yid.) nothing, emptiness

gottenyu
"Dear G-d!"

grogger
Purim noisemaker

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H
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

HaAretz
lit.=the land: The Land of Israel

hachnasat orchim
the welcoming of guests; hospitality

hader
(Heb.) pride

hadasim
myrtle leaves, used on Succot

Haftorah
after Torah reading, a reading from Prophets, usu. related in content or theme to parsha just read

hagbah
raising and display of the Torah scroll after reading

Hadassah
U.S.-based Jewish women's organization

Haggadah
Pesach guidebook, used during Seder

hakafot
dances around bimah on Succot [n]

hak'n a chainik
lit.=banging a kettle: annoying [v]

halachah
Jewish law

ha-levai
(Yid.) "If only!"

Hallel
holiday prayer of thanks-giving Psalms

halvah
sesame candy

hamentash(en)
Purim cookie(s), filled with fruit or poppyseeds

HaMotzi
the blessing over bread

HaShem
The Name (in place of G-d's actual Name)

Haskala
19th cent. European Jewish "Enlightenment"

HaTikvah
lit.=The Hope: Israel's anthem

Havdala
prayer bidding farewell to Shabbat

haymish
lit.=home-like: friendly, joyous

hefker
abandoned, ownerless

Herzl, Theodore
early Zionist, Hebrew-language proponent

Holocaust
always capitalized

hora
fast, festive circle-dance

hoshanah
prayer for hakafot

Hoshanah Rabbah
holiday at end of Succot

hummus
chick-pea paste, a Mid-Eastern dish

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I
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ikor
core, essence

im yirtza HaShem
"G-d willing."

ima
(Heb.) mother

Iyar
8th Jewish month (May), 5th is Yom HaAtzma'ut, 18th is Lag BaOmer.

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J
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Judenrat
council of ghetto Jews charged with picking Jews to give to Nazis for delivery to concentration/death camps

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K
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Kabalah
lit.=acceptance: Jewish mysticism

Kaddish
mourner's prayer

kallah
study session

kapo
head of a Judenrat

kaporah
atonement

karpas
vegetables (usu. parsley, celery, potato) dipped in salt water and eaten at Seder

kasha
couscous-like dish made of buckwheat

kashe
question, esp. on ritual observance

kasher
to make kosher, esp. meat or dishes

kashrut
the laws of kosher-ness

kapoteh
long, black coat worn by chasidim

kedoshim
lit.=holy ones: martyrs

kedushin
the marriage ceremony

kehilla
congregation; community

ken ayina hora
lit.=without the evil eye: "Not to jinx it" (said after complimenting)

keter Torah
ornamental crown placed on Sefer Torah

ketubah
lit.=writ: marriage contract

khap
grab, snatch; understand [v]; insight [n]

kibbitz
(Yid.) chitchat

kibbutz (pl. kibbutzim)
Israeli collective farm

kichel
air-filled cookies

kiddish
celebratory meal after synagogue services

Kiddush
prayer/blessing for wine

kiddush HaShem
lit.=sanctification of the Name: selfless act, esp. martyrdom

Kiddush Lavona
prayer for the new moon

kinder(lach)
(small) children

kipah (pl. kipot)
(Heb.) skullcap

kiruv
lit.=closeness: outreach

kishka
seasoned mashed potatoes in a casing

kishkas
(Yid.) innards; "guts" ("She's got..."; "I feel it in my...")

Kislev
3rd Jewish month (Nov-Dec), 25th is Chanukah

kitel
white robe, esp. for Pesach and Yom Kippur

Klal Yisrael
(Heb.) The Jewish People

klezmer
Yiddish music: part Jewish, part big-band

klutz
(Yid.) clumsy one

Knesset
Israel's Parliament

k'neidlach
thin noodles, esp. for soup

k'nish
puff pastry filled with meat or potatoes

ko'ach
strength; endurance, energy

kodesh
(Heb.) holy

kohen (pl. kohanim)
descendant of Moses, Aaron; thus, a member of the priest class

Kol Nidre
"All Vows," key prayer, by chazan on Erev Yom Kippur

korban
(Heb.) holy sacrifice; (Yid.) scapegoat

kos
(Heb.) wine goblet

kosher
permissible to eat under Jewish law

Kotel (HaMa'aravi)
The (Western) Wall

kovod
(Heb.) honor [n]

kreplach
won tons

Kristallnacht
"Night of Broken Glass," Nazi pogrom on Nov.9-10, 1938; the worst pogrom ever, it marked the Holocaust's start

kriyah
lit.=rip: the tearing of one’s clothes to signify mourning

kriyat haTorah
the reading of the Torah

kugel
casserole, usu. of potatoes or noodles; tease [v, slang]

kvell
derive deep pride or intense satisfaction

kvetch
whine(r), complain(er)

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L
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Ladino
the Jewish-Spanish language

Lag BaOmer
the thirty-third day of the Omer, minor spring holiday

landsman
fellow native (usu. of place in Old Country)

landsmanshaft(en)
organization(s) of fellow natives

lashon harah
lit.=bad language: slander, gossip

Lashon HaKodesh
lit.=holy tongue: Hebrew

latke
potato pancake, esp. for Chanukah

lavayah
lit.=procession: funeral

layn
read from the Torah, etc., with trop

l'chaim
"To Life!"

lechem
(Heb.) bread

lev
(Heb.) heart

levi (pl. leviim)
member of the tribe of Levi, but not a descendant of Moses or Aaron; thus, a member of the priest-assistant class

licht
lit.=light: Shabbat or yom tov candles

Likud
Israeli conservative political party

loch in kopf
lit.=a hole in (the) head: "the last thing I need"

lochshen
wide noodles, esp. for kugel

l'shanah tova
lit.=for a good year: Rosh HaShanah greeting

Lubavitch
large and influential chaisidic group focusing on outreach

luftmensch
lit=air man: one without visible means of (monetary) support

lulav
palm frond. used on Succot

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M
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Ma'arat HaMachpela
Tomb of the Patriarchs

ma'ariv
evening prayer

Maccabi
follower of Judah of the Maccabis

maccabiah
Jewish preteen mini-Olympics (cap. if official version)

machotin
child's father-in-law

machatonim
child's spouse's parents, co-in-laws

machatonista
child's mother-in-law

macher
lit.=maker: mover-and-shaker

machzor
holiday prayerbook, esp. for High Holidays

madrich
camp counselor; youth-group leader; tour guide

makos
(Heb.) whip-lashes; plagues

Mama Loshon
lit.=mother tongue: Yiddish

mandel brot
almond pastry

Ma Nishtanah
"What Distinguishes?" set of children's questions in Haggadah, the "Four Questions"

maot chitim
lit.=wheat money: charity given for poor to buy matzah

Marrano
lit.=pig: derogatory name for Converso

marror
bitter herb eaten on Pesach

matzah (pl. matzot)
unleavened bread, esp. eaten on Pesach

matzah brei
French-toasted matzah

matzevah
tombstone

mayven
expert; know-it-all

mazel
lit.=constellation: luck

Mazel Tov
lit.= (a) good star: "Congratulations!"

mazik
impish person, esp. a child

mechaya
lit.= which makes live: relief; joy (said of a person, thing, or situation)

mechitza
partition between men and women in shul

medina
country (the actual territory)

Medinat Yisrael
(Heb.) The State of Israel

megillah
(Heb.) Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations (Yid.) any long, drawn-out story

Megillah
The Book of Esther

melamed
religious teacher, esp. a non-rabbi

melaveh malkeh
Shabbat party

melech/Melech
king/ capitalize in reference to G-d

menachem avel
lit.=comforting a mourner: paying a condolence call

menorah
candelabra, esp. for Chanukah

mensch (pl. menschen)
(Yid.) upstanding person

menschlach
decent, morally upright, polite

meshuge
(Yid). crazy

meshugene
(Yid.) crazy one

metziah
lit.=a find: a bargain

mezuzah
biblical passage on a parchment scroll, placed in an ornamental case and affixed to a doorpost

Midrash
collection of extra-biblical stories

mikvah
ritual bath

milchig
dairy

mincha
afternoon prayer

minyan
quorum of 10 required for certain prayers

mishalach manot
gifts of food given on Purim

misheberach
blessing of healing given during kriyat haTorah

mishpacha
(Heb.) family

Mishkan
portable Holy Temple used during Exodus

mishmash
eclectic collection or arrangement

Mishnah
oral law, parallel to Torah. Written down circa 200 C.E.

mitzvah (pl. mitzvot)
religious commandment

Mizbe'ach
altar used in Holy Temple

mizrach
east, dir. American Jews face when praying

Mizrachi
Orthodox Zionist movement

Mogen David
lit.=Shield of David: Jewish star

mohel
one who performs circumcisions

Mordechai
hero of Book of Esther

moshav
kibbutz, but with more private property

Moshiach
the Messiah

moshol
parable, fable, usu. with a moral

motzi
see "HaMotzi"

muktzah
forbidden on Shabbat, said esp. of an object

musaf
lit.=gathered: additional post-shacharit prayers on holidays

mussar
constructive criticism

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N
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

na'areshkeit
lit.=adolescent stuff: worthless things or activities

nachas
pride, esp. parental pride for children

nais
(Heb.) miracle

ner tamid
lit.=forever candle: eternal flame, esp. in shul

nasi
lit.=prince: head of Biblical tribe or Sanhedrin

navi
prophet

nazir
ascetic abstainer from wine, haircuts, and contact with death

Nevi'im
biblical writings and stories of Prophets

nebach
(Yid.) "(Such) a pity!"

nebbish
pitiful person

nechomah
(Heb.) pity

Negev
the southern, desert part of Israel

Ne'ilah
flnal prayer on Yom Kippur

neshoma
(Heb.) soul

netilat yadayim
the washing of the hands, esp. before eating bread

niggun
tune to which liturgy is sung; wordless melody sung by chasidim

Nisan
7th Jewish month (Mar-Apr), 15th starts Pesach, 27th is Yom HaShoah

Nine Days
days of mourning leading up to Tisha B'Av

nisht gerferalach
lit.=not important: "Don't worry."

no-goodnick
a good-for-nothing person

nosh
snack [n,v]

nosherai
snack foods; silly, time-wasting stuff

nu
(Yid.) "So?"

nudge
pest [n], to pester [v]

nudnick
unthinking, inconsiderate person

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O
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

olam
world; universe; everything; forever

Olam HaBah
The World to Come

oleh (pl. olim)
lit.=ascender: immigrant to Israel

Omer
period of 49 days between the second night of Pesach and the first night of Shavuot; first 33 are period of national mourning

oneg
party, usu. on Shabbat

(The) O.U.
The Orthodox Union (full name: Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America), or its kashrut insignia.

Oy, gevalt
"Oh, drat!"; "Quick, help!"

Oy, gottenyu
"Oh, G-d!"

Oy, vey
lit.=(it) hurts: "Oh, no!"

Oy, vey is mir
"Oh, woe is me."

oysvorf
(Yid.) layabout, ne'er-do-well

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P
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

parnasah
livelihood

parsha
chapter, esp. of Torah

parshat hashavua
weekly parsha read in shul; the parsha for a given week

parve
status of food containing neither dairy nor meat ingredients; wishy-washy [slang]

paskin
to answer a question on religious practice

pe'ah
li.=corner: section of field left for poor to glean

perek
paragraph, esp. in Torah

perochet
ornamental curtain in front of aron

Pesach
Passover, in spring

pesachdik
legal for Passover use or consumption

Petach Tikva
Israeli city, east of Tel Aviv-- Chicago's Israeli "sister city"

peyis
sideburns, esp. long ones worn by chasidim

pidyon haben
the redemption of the bachor from Temple service; still done ceremoniously

pidyon shvuyim
lit.=the redeption of captives: the rescue of refugees

Pirkei Avot
"Ethics of the Fathers," a Mishnaic book of sages' sayings

pikuach nefesh
the tenet of violating Jewish law to save a life

pintele
(Yid.) lit.=the point of a Jew: the "spark" of Jewishness within all Jews

pisk
(Yid.) mouth; loudmouth

pits'l
(Yid.) tiny bit; very young or small child

plotz
(Yid.) explode, esp. with intense emotion

pogrom
violent, anti-Semitic attack of a Jewish village or area

posek
one trusted to made halachic decisions

potch
(Yid.) spank

potchkied
(Yid.) overdone, overwrought

prust
rough, coarse; socially unrefined

pupik
(Yid.) navel, belly button

Purim
spring holiday for Book of Esther events

punim
(Yid.) face

pushka
box or canister for collecting tzedakah

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R
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

rachmanut
(Heb.) mercy

rav
term of endearment for rabbi

reb/rebbe/rebbie
terms of endearment for rabbi

rebbetzin
wife of a rabbi

refusenik
one refused an exit visa from the Soviet Union

regah
(Heb.) minute; "One minute!"

rimon
(Heb.) pomegranate; grenade

rimonim
ornamental cylinders placed on Sefer Torah

Rishonim
post-Gemarah-era commentators, incl. Rashi & Maimonides

Rosh Chodesh
first day of the new month

Rosh HaShanah
lit.=head of the year: Jewish New Year, autumn holiday

ruach
(Heb.) spirit; enthusiasm

ruggelach
croissant-like pastries, usu. w/ chocolate or cinnamon

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S
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

saba
(Heb.) grandfather

sabra
(Heb.) prickly-pear fruit

Sabra
native Israeli

sakanot nefashot
life-endangerment

same'ach
(Heb.) happy

savta
(Heb.) grandmother

Sanhedrin
ancient rabbinical council of 70 sages

saychel
(Yid.) common sense

s'chach
loose thatch used for succah roof, must be from plants

schav
cold soup of leafy vegetables

schlaf
(Yid.) sleep [v]

schlemazel
luckless one

schlemiel
bumbler, one who "can't do anything right"

schlep
carry; drag, lug; drag one's feet; travel a great distance [v], lazy one; unkempt person [n]

schlump
(Yid.) flop [v]; stoop-shouldered person [n]

schmaltz
(Yid.) fat, grease, oil; maudlin sentimentality

schmateh
(Yid.) rag; cheap piece of clothing

schmeggege
disorganized one, one who "doesn't have it together"

schmeichl
(Yid.) smile; smooth-talk

schmooze
(Yid.) intimate chat [n]; persuade [v]

schmutz
(Yid.) filth, scum

schnook
unscrupulous one; cheater, crook

schpiel
(Yid.) story; sales pitch

schpilkes
lit.=pins: anxiousness

schtick
bit, piece; comic act; eccentricity

schtickl(ach)
little bit(s) or piece(s)

schtiebl
small synagogue, often a storefront or private home

schtreiml
round, fur-edged hat worn by chasidim

seder
Pesach ceremonial meal

sedrah
reading from Tanach

sefer
(Heb.) book, esp. of religious topic

Sefer Torah
the Torah scroll itself

sefirat haOmer
counting of the days of the Omer

Sephardi
of Mediterranean Jewish tradition

se'udah
feast [n], esp. for Shabbat or holiday

sha
"Shh! Quiet!"

Shabbat
the Sabbath

shacharit
morning prayer

shadchan
matchmaker

shailah
question, esp. on religious matters

shaliach
messenger; representative; ambassador; Israeli delegate to community, youth group, synagogue, etc.

shaliach tzibur (abbr. shatz)
lit.=messenger of (the) congregation: cantor

shalom
peace; "Hello/Goodbye"

shalom aleichem
lit.=peace to you: "Hello" (response is "aleichem, shalom")

shalom bayit
lit.=peace of the house: domestic harmony

shalosh se'udot
third and last meal of Shabbat

shamos
assistant synagogue manager

shamosh
candle that kindles the Chanukah candles

shanda
(Yid.) disgrace, scandal

Shavuot
holiday for receiving the Torah, in autumn

shayna maideleh
(Yid.) beautiful girl

Sh'china
G-d's presence

shchita
kosher slaughtering

shecht
slaughter, esp. in a kosher manner; to defeat soundly, as in sports [slang]

Shehecheyanu
blessing for annual, lifetime, or historic events

sheket
(Heb.) quiet, silence

Shema
lit.=Hear (O, Israel): a key Jewish prayer

Sheva B'rachot
set of seven blessings said at weddings and at parties for one week after

sheytl
(Yid.) wig, esp. for married women

shidduch
match (see shadchan)

shira (pl. shirim)
(Heb.) song

shiva
period of mourning observed for seven days after a family member's funeral

Shiv-asor B'Tamuz
17th of Tamuz, summer fast day for destruction of Holy Temple

shloshim
period of mourning observed for thirty days after a family member's funeral

Sh'mini Atzeret
eighth day of Succot, a holiday

shmita
Shabbat of the land: every seventh year, when Israeli land lies fallow

Shmonah Esrei
lit.=18: 19-blessing (1 was added later) shacharit Amidah

Shmot
Exodus (2nd bk. of Torah)

Shoah
lit.=destruction: The Holocaust

shochet
slaughterer who slaughters in the kosher manner

shofar
ram's horn, blown like a bugle on holidays

shok’l
sway meditatively during prayers

shul
synagogue

shtetl
Eastern European Jewish village

Shulchan Aruch
lit.=set table: Code of Jewish Law

shvach
(Yid.) weak; tepid, unsubstantial

sh'varim
shofar blast of three short sounds

Shvat
5th Jewish month (Jan-Feb), 15th is Tu B'Shvat

shvitz
sweat [v]; sauna [n]

siddur
daily prayerbook

simcha
happiness; special happy occasion, esp. bris, wedding, etc.

Simchat Torah
holiday celebrating the Torah, in autumn

Sivan
9th Jewish month (May-Jun), 5th and 6th are Shavuot

sivivon
(Heb.) dreidle, esp. in Israel

siyum
completion of the study of a section of scripture; a celebration thereupon

slicha
forgiveness; "Forgive me/Pardon me"

Slichot
prayers of repentance said around High Holidays

smicha
rabbinic ordination

sofer
scribe; author

S.S.
the Nazi infantry, "Brownshirts"

succah (pl. succot)
outdoor booth lived in on Succot

Succot
harvest holiday, in autumn

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T
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

tachlis
(Yid.) essence, substance; worth; basics, "brass tacks"

takkah
(Yid.) really

talit (pl. taliot)
prayer shawl

Talmud
Mishna with its relevant Gemara, bound together

Tamuz
10th Jewish month (Jun-Jul), 17th is Shiv-asor B'Tamuz

Tana'im
lit.=teachers: compilers of Mishna

tante
(Yid.) aunt

tarfos
that which is trayf

Tashlich
Rosh HaShanah practice of throwing bread, etc. into water, symbolically casting away our sins

techina
sesame paste, a Mid-Eastern food

tefillah
prayer

tefillin
biblical passages on parchment scrolls, placed in small boxes and affixed with leather straps, worn during prayer

Tehillim
Psalms

teiglach
small, fruit- or nut-filled pastries, dipped in honey

teretz
reason, explanation

Tevet
4th Jewish month (Jan), 10th is Asoroh B'Tevet

Three Weeks
period of mourning from Shiv-asor B'Tamuz to Tisha B'Av

thirty-nine melochot
39 categories of "work" prohibitted on Shabbat

tichel
kerchief; headcovering, esp. for married women

tikun
study book for layning

tikun layl Shavuot
all-night study session on the eve of Shavuot

tikun olam
the repair or completion of the world

tikva
(Heb.) hope

Tisha B'Av
the 9th of Av, a major fast day for the destruction of the Holy Temples, in summer

Tishrei
1st Jewish month (Sep-Oct), 1st is Rosh HaShanah, 10th is Yom Kippur, 15th is Succot, 22nd is Sh'mimi Atzeret, 23rd is Simchat Torah

t'kia
shofar blast of one long sound

todah (rabbah)
"Thank you (very much)"

Torah
the written Jewish law

tractate
section of the Talmud

trayf
lit.=torn: not kosher

trop
marks indicating musical notes for chanting the Torah, etc.

tru'a
shofar blast of nine staccato sounds

truma
tenth of a crop, given to kohanim

Tu B'Shvat
the 15th of Shvat, Jewish Arbor Day

tuchus
lit.=under: buttocks

tzadik
righteous person, esp. a rabbi.

tzadreit
(Yid.) mixed up

tzar ba'aleh chaim
the suffering of living things

tzedakah
lit.=justice: charity

tzibur
congregation

tzimis
carrot/pineapple compote, usu. with raisins or prunes; a hullabaloo [slang]

tzitzit
fringes worn on the corners of a four-cornered garment; the garment and fringes together

tzniut
modesty, esp. of dress

tzom
day of fasting

tzuros
(Yid.) pains; troubles, problems, distresses

tzutzik
(Yid.) ambitious or energetic person

Tzvah Haganah L'Yisrael (Tzahal)
Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel's army

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U
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ulpan
Hebrew-language course, esp. in Israel

ungebloozen
(Yid.) surly

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V
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Vaad...
Committee (or Council) of...

Vayikra
Leviticus

viduy
confession to G-d of a sin

vilde chaya
(Yid.) wild animal; uncontrolled person

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Y
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

yad (pl. yaddayim)
lit.=hand: Torah pointer

Yad VaShem
lit.=hand and name: Israeli Holocaust Museum

yam
pron. "yom": (Heb.) sea

Yam HaMelech
(...of salt) the Dead Sea

Yam HaGadol
(...the large one) the Mediterranean Sea

Yam Kinneret
(...shaped like a harp) Sea of Galilee

Yam Suf
(...the final one) the Red Sea

yarmulke
pron. "yamaka": (Yid.) skullcap

yartzeit
anniversary of a death

yasher ko'ach
lit.=(go) straight, (as) strong: "Good job! Keep up the good work!"

yente
gossipy one [n]

yerusha
inheritance; heritage

Yerushalayim
(Heb.) Jerusalem

yeshiva (pl. yeshivot)
Talmudic seminary

yeshiva boch'r
seminary student

yeshuv
Israeli town

yetzer tov/harah
good/evil impulse

Yetziat Mitzrayim
(Heb.) Exodus from Egypt

Yiddishkeit
Jewishness

yisrael
member of a tribe other than Levi; thus a member of the nonpriest class

Yisrael
(Heb.) Israel

Yizkor
communal service for personal mourning

yom
pron. "yome": (Heb.) day

Yom HaAtzma'ut
Israel Independence Day

Yom HaShoah
Holocaust Memorial Day

Yom HaZikaron
Israel Memorial Day

Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement, in autumn

yom tov
lit.=good day: holiday

Yom Yerushalayim
Jerusalem Reunification Day

Yomim Nora'im
High Holidays, Rosh HaShanah & Yom Kippur

yored (pl. yordim)
lit.=descender: emigrant from Israel (considered impolite)

Yovel
every 50th yr.; see shmita (trans. Jubilee)

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Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

za'atar
an Israeli spice

zachor
remember

zecher
in remembrance of

zecher tzadik livracha (abbr. zt"l)
"(May) the memory of the righteous (be) for a blessing." Said of deceased rabbis

zechut
merit, worth

zeide
(Yid.) grandfather

zhlub
(Yid.) slob

zichrono livracha (abbr. z"l)
"(May) his/her memory (be) for a blessing." Said of the deceased

zmirah (pl. zmirot)
Shabbat song

Zohar
major tract of Kabbalah

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