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Glossary
Holding a music songsheet

Glossary for all Hebrew and Yiddish words:

Words: Description: Origin:
Adonai One of the Hebrew words for God, literally ‘our Lord’ Hebrew
Aleph-Beis / Aleph-Bet Yiddish / Hebrew alphabet Yiddish/ Hebrew
Ashkenazi/c (adj) Ashkenazim (pl noun) Jews originating from Germany, Eastern Europe or Russia - now make up approx 80% of the worldwide Jewish community. Hebrew
Ba’al Tefilah Prayer leader Hebrew
Bar Mitzvah Boy’s religious coming of age ceremony at 13 Hebrew
Ben zekunim Son of his old age Hebrew
Bet Din Religious court Hebrew
Bet Hamidrash House of study Hebrew
Bracha Blessing Hebrew
Bris Circumcision Yiddish
Bubba Grandma Yiddish
Chag / Chagim Jewish religious festival/s Hebrew
Chassid (noun), Chassidic (adj) Member of movement of pious Jews started in 18th century, with an emphasis on mysticism and joy in prayer Yiddish
Chazzan / Chazzonim Cantor/s Hebrew
Chazzanisch Adjective from chazzan Yiddish
Chazzanut Jewish liturgical music Hebrew
Cheder Religion school for children, literally ‘room’ Hebrew
Chumash Five books of Moses (The Torah) Hebrew
Cohanim (singular Cohen) Priests Hebrew
Davven Pray Hebrew
Erev Pesach Evening before the first day of Passover Hebrew
Erev Rosh Hashana Evening before the first day of the Jewish New Year Hebrew
Erev Shabbat The evening of Shabbat i.e. Friday evening Hebrew
Frum Religious Yiddish
Frumkeit Religiosity Yiddish
Goldeneh Medina Golden Land Yiddish
Hachshara Preparation for settling in Israel , literally ‘preparation’ Hebrew
Haggadah/ot Book/s used at the Passover meal Hebrew
Hallel Prayer taken from Psalms 113-118 Hebrew
the Heim the homeland Yiddish
Kabbalist Person learned in Kabbalah, the mystical aspect of Judaism Hebrew
Kashrut Jewish law dealing with what food can and cannot be eaten and its preparation Hebrew
Kehilla Congregation or community Hebrew
Kibbutz / Kibbutzim Collective community/ communities in Israel Hebrew
Kiddush Blessing recited over wine to sanctify Shabbat or a Jewish holiday Hebrew
Knesset Israeli Parliament Hebrew
Leyning Chanting a Biblical passage Yiddish
Lubavitchers Member of Lubavitch, one of the largest groups of ultra-orthodox Jews Yiddish
Ma'ariv The evening synagogue service Hebrew
Ma Nishtanah ‘Why is this night different?’ – first line of the Four Questions read at the Seder Hebrew
Machzor Festival prayer book Hebrew
Matzah Unleavened bread eaten at Pesach Hebrew
Meshulach Charity collector Yiddish
Minhag Religious custom Hebrew
Minyan Religious quorum of 10 required for prayer Hebrew
Mischpocha Family Yiddish
Mishnah First section of the Talmud Hebrew
Modeh Ani ‘I give thanks’ - first words of the prayer that observant Jews recite daily upon waking Hebrew
Mohel Person performing circumcision Hebrew
Musaf Additional prayer service Hebrew
Niggun / Niggunim Wordless song/s Hebrew
Nisan The 7th month of the year in the Jewish calendar falling in March or April in the Gregorian calender Hebrew
Oleh Chadash New immigrant Hebrew
Oneg Shabbat Informal Sabbath gathering , literally ‘the joy of Shabbat Hebrew
Pesach Passover Hebrew
Pesach Sheni A second Passover a month later for those unable to celebrate it at the proper time Hebrew
Purim Festival commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people of ancient Persian from Haman's plot to annihilate them, recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther Hebrew
Rabbonim Plural of rabbi Hebrew
Rebbe Chassidic teacher Yiddish
Rebbetzin Rabbi’s wife Yiddish
Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Hebrew
Sanhedrin Assembly of judges appointed in every city in the Land of Israel Hebrew
Schadchan / Schadchanim Matchmaker/s Yiddish
Schect To slaughter according to the laws of kashrut Yiddish
Schlichut From shaliach – emissary Hebrew
Schochet Ritual slaughterer Hebrew
Schul Synagogue Yiddish
Seder / Sederim Passover meal/s Hebrew
Sedra Portion of the Torah Hebrew
Sefer Book Hebrew
Sephardi/c (adj) Sephardim (pl noun) Jews originating from Spain and Portugal, North Africa and Turkey. Hebrew
Seudah Shlishit Last meal of Shabbat Hebrew
Shabbat Sabbath Hebrew
Shabbes Sabbath Yiddish
Shacharit Morning prayers Hebrew
Shammas Synagogue beadle or sexton Hebrew
Sh'ma Yisrael ‘Hear O Israel’ - first words of one of the most important Jewish prayers Hebrew
Shtetl Small town in Central or Eastern Europe, usually with a large Jewish population Yiddish
Talmud Collection of ancient Rabbinic writings Hebrew
Talmud / Talmus Torah Religious school providing elementary Jewish education for boys Yiddish / Hebrew
Torah Five books of Moses Hebrew
Tzedakah Charity Hebrew
Yeshiva Seminary Hebrew
Yeshiva bocher Seminary student Yiddish
Yom Kippur Day of Atonement Hebrew
Yomtov Jewish festival Hebrew
z“l Acronym for Zecher Livrocho – of blessed memory Hebrew
Zemer / Zmirot Song / s Hebrew

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