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Jewish Blog Definitions

Updated: 2015-02-03T12:05:05.752-08:00


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Abba- Aramaic for Father

Aderaba - Aramaic; on the contrary

Ad Mosai - Until when, this is an exclamation used generally when exasperated. Lubavitchers use this phrase when talking about Moshiach - Ad Mosai? How much longer do we have to wait for the coming of Moshiach?

Aidel – Yiddish, literally means refined

Aidel maidel – Yiddish, literally means refined girl (shameless plug for one of this blog's administrators)

Aliyah – Literally means “to go up”. Used when referring to when someone emigrates to Israel, or when someone is called up to read or say a blessing on the torah. Also when someone passes away, we say their neshama/soul goes “up” to shamayim/gan eden/heaven.

Amud - the podium from where the prayer service is led by the shliach tzibur. As in "davening from the amud". "Taking the amud" refers to the shliach tzibur going up to lead the service.

Ani Maamin – Literally means “I believe.” A shortened version of “Ani Maamin, be’emunah shalaima”

Apikores- heretic

Ashkenaz- referring to Jews from northern Europe

Aufruf - the Shabbat before a wedding, when a chatan is called for an aliyah and reads the haftarah

Assur - forbidden

Aveilus – the time period of mourning in which a mourner has obligations and restrictions on what they are permitted to do. The mourning period for someone who has lost a parent is one year. Restrictions include no listening to music, attending weddings or other happy occasions, and no new clothes.

Aveira - a forbidden act; a sin

Avoda – literally means “work” but it often means spiritual work, or what G-d wants us to accomplish down here.

Ayin hara - the evil eye



Baal Teshuva (BT) – literally means Master of Return, generally means people who did not grow up orthodox and became frum later in life, or can mean someone FFB who stopped being orthodox and then started again.

Babka – An eastern European yeast cake, can come in any number of flavors including chocolate and cinnamon.

Bais Hamikdosh- The Holy Temple

Bais Medresh- House of Learning. Study Hall.

Bais Yaakov - a very religious secondary school for girls

Balabusta - a good housewife

Bar Mitzvah- a boy of age 13, responsible to do Mitzvot.

Baruch Dayan Emes – literally means “Blessed is the True Judge”. This is the phrase recited upon hearing of someone’s death. It is both a phrase used to comfort the mourner and an acknowledgement that G-d runs the world

Bas Melech - daughter of the king; a term referring to a Jewish girl or woman

Bashert – that it was meant to be from time immemorial. Also used to talk about our life partner - predetermined from the beginning of time.

Bedeken - when the groom covers the bride's face with her veil immediately before the chuppah

Bentch- Yiddish, literally means “to bless”, can be used a variety of ways – most commonly to denote the long blessings to be recited after eating bread. Can also refer to what G-d decides to bless us with, or how some Jews traditionally bless their children every Friday night. Also one person can always bentch another.

Bikur cholim - visiting the sick, an important mitzvah

Bimah- the stage where the Torah is read

Bitachon - trust in Hashem

Bli neder – Without a vow. Bochur, bochurim – literally means “boy” or “son” often refers to single men of high school, college, and marriageable age.

Bracha- blessing; pl. brachot

Broiges- a long-running grudge, something less than a feud but more than a dispute



CHABAD- A center for Lubavitch Jews

Chag - holiday; pl., chagim

Challah - The braided bread traditionally eaten on Shabbos/Sabbath.

Chanukah – The Jewish festival of lights.

Charedim- Orthodox Jews on the far right of the spectrum- tend to reject secular pursuits

Chas v'shalom – G-d Forbid

Chassidim- a sect of Jews, who follow the teachings of 18th century Rabbi, the Baal Shem Tov

Chassidishe – literally means pious, this is an adjective to describe one stream of orthodoxy

Chatan (or Chosson) - a bridegroom

Chazal – A general term to mean "our sages". When used, it generally means, that somewhere in the huge cannon of rabbinic writings, it refers to this matter.

Chazzan- the cantor

Cheshbon Hanefesh- a spiritual accounting of the soul

Chevrusah- a partner in learning Torah; refers also to both partners

Chillul Hashem- Desecration of the Name of G-d

Chizzuk – something which strengthens someone

Cholent - special stew served on Shabbat

Cholov Yisroel- Milk produced at a farm in part owned by Jews

Chumash- The Pentateuch, or, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

Chupa- the canopy over the marriage ceremony, also refers to the ceremony itself

Chutzpah, Chutzpahdik- disrespect, gall, overly confident.

Cohen, also Kohen - descendent of Aaron, Moses' brother and the first priest of the Jewish people



Daf Yomi- learning a page of the Talmud every day

Dan L'Chaf Zechus- Hebrew, to Judge on the side of merit, to judge every person favorably until you know all the details

Daven- to pray

Davening- either the act of praying, or the prayer service

Dayenu - a song that is part of the Passover seder; literally, "it would have been enough for us"

Derech – literally means “the way”, can also refer to the stream of orthodoxy one follows

Derech eretz - good manners; courtesy

D'var Torah - commentary on or explication of Jewish law, tradition, or beliefs



Eema - also Ima - Aramaic for Mother

Elul - the month before the High Holidays; a time to reflect on one's behavior and resolve to do better in the future

Emunah peshuta – simple or blind faith

Eretz HaKodesh – Literally, “the holy land”, refers to Israel, preferably in it’s biblical boundaries

Eretz Yisroel – literally, “the land of Israel”, refers to Israel

Erev - evening; eve before, when used with another word, such as Shabbos (see below)

Erev Shabbos – The time before shabbos/Sabbath, pre-sabbath preparation time



FFB – Frum (orthodox) from birth

Frum - Orthodox Frummies- somewhat derogatory term for very religious Jews; also those who like to act religious

frumkeit - religious observance; piety



G-d – When the name of God is written in Hebrew, it can never be destroyed – and there are several names for Him in Hebrew. As a way around this, we often will write the name with alternate letters in Hebrew so as to not create a problem. Similarly, most orthodox jews will write G-d in English with the hyphen.

Gabbai- the guy in the shul responsible for arranging who leads the prayers and gets called up to the Torah, etc.

Galus- exile, diaspora

Gam Tzu La Tova- "This also is for the good." A classic phrase used to show faith that everything that happens is from G-d and therefore inherently Good.

Gan Eden – Literally the Garden of Eden, this can refer to the “heaven”/afterlife

Gebentched - one who is blessed

Gehinnom – Purgatory or Hell depending on who you ask

Gemara - part of the Talmud, the code of Jewish Law

Gematria - the Jewish system of numerology, based on the numeric value of Hebrew letters

Ger – a convert

Get - divorce decree that ends a Jewish marriage

Godol HaDor, Nosi HaDor – the leader of the generation

Grusha - Hebrew, means divorcee

Gutte gebentched yohr – Yiddish, means a Good, Blessed Year – this is a new year’s greeting

Gutte voche – Yiddish, means a good week, something said after the shabbos/Sabbath ends



Habibi - my dear (from the Arabic)

Hachlata – a resolution, usually made in regards to some form of observance

Hachnassat Kallah - dowering the bride, an important mitzvah

Hachnassat Orchim - entertaining guests in your home, an important mitzvah

Haftorah - the Chanting of passages from the books of prophets, after the Shabbos Torah reading. (nothing to do with half a Torah)

Halacha- Jewish Law

Halachically - according to Jewish Law

Hashem – Literally means, “the Name”, an alternate name for G-d in Hebrew

Hashkofa – the stream of orthodoxy one follows, alt. philosophy

Hatzlacha - success

Havdalah - the ritual that ends the Sabbath and ushers in a new week

Heter - Allowance. EG a heter to use birth control pills granted by a rabbi

Hilchot bein adam lamakom - laws governing people's obligations to Gd

Hilchot bein adam lechavero - laws governing how people treat each other

Hot Chanie- a young (mid 20s to early 30s) Orthodox Jewish woman who "skirts" the laws of tzniut (modesty) by wearing tight clothing that barely covers elbows, collarbones, and knees. Hot Chanies often will not be seen in public unless wearing full make-up; a long, sleek sheitel (wig); and high heels. Also considered "The Plastics" of the frum (Orthodox) world. (Origin)



ikar - essential thing

IMYH - Im Yirtzeh Hashem – If G-d Wills It, aka G-d willing

Ish Anav - a humble man





Kabbalah- literally, "that which is passed down." Refers to the field of Jewish Mysticism. Also a really cool Jewish Rock Band.

Kabbalat Panim - the first part of a traditional Jewish wedding, when bride and groom greet and entertain their guests

Kallah - bride

Kaddish- special prayer, often said by those in mourning. Requires a quorum (minyan) of 10 men to recite.

Kashrut- the concept that food must be kosher (ok for Jews to eat)

Kavannah - sincerity and fervor while praying

Kavod - honor

Kedusha- the holiest part of the prayer service, where everyone must be silent and not move. Also means holiness

Kesher - an emotional connection between two people

Kiddush- sanctification of the meal over wine. Also refers to a nice spread after shul is over.

Kiddush Hashem- sanctification of the name of G-d. Opposite of chillul Hashem. Something that brings honor to the Jewish People.

Kinneret – the body of water in Israel

Kippah Sruga- crocheted skullcap

Kiruv- outreach

Klezmer – a type of jewish music emanating from eastern Europe. e.g. Andy Statman

kol b'seder - everything's cool; etymological origin of the term "copacetic"

Kol Isha- the voice of a woman (usually singing), which men are prohibited from listening to

Kollel- place where married men sit and learn Torah all day

Kotel - the Western Wall

K'tiva v'katima tova – You should be written and inscribed for good, a new year’s greeting

Kugel - noodle or potato casserole; can be sweet or savory

Kumzitz- singalong with story telling

Kvetch - (verb) to complain; (noun) a complaining person



Layn -- to chant the Torah or Haftorah in synagogue, using the trop (cantillations).

L'Chaim- "To Life" a traditional toast, also an engagement party (see vort)

L'illui Nishmas – It should be "a light" for the soul, this is a phrase meaning that when something is done in the merit of a deceased person's memory, their soul lights up or attains extra merit in shamayim.

Levi - member of a special group of Jews, who used to care for the Temple in Jerusalem

Litvish – A stream of orthodoxy, originating in Lithuanian, frequently followers of the Vilna Goan, aka the GRA

Londsman - compatriot; fellow Jew

Loshon - Language, lit. "tongue." e.g. Loshon Hakodesh, the Holy Language (Hebrew), Mama Loshon, Mother Tongue

Loshon Hora- badmouthing; gossip. No dancing involved

L'sameach chatan v'kallah - gladdening the bride and groom; an important mitzvah

Lulav- a palm branch, used in the service for Sukkos



Maariv – the evening prayer service

Macher -- also Big Macher: Big Shot. Literally, a maker or doer. An important person.

Machmir – strict or stringent

Maikel – lax or permissive

Makpid – exacting when it comes to details, rules, regulations

Mamash – Yeshivish, means “REALLY” i.e. I mamash liked him

Mashiach – the Messiah

Mashpiim – a Mentor, or Rabbi, or someone to turn to for advice

Masmid – someone who learns full time

Mazel Tov- literally "good luck", or congratulations

Mechilah- forgiveness

Megilah - literally "story" or "telling"; usually refers to the story of Queen Esther and Mordechai

Mekabel – literally means to receive, but means also to accept something as fact

Menachem Avel - comforting a mourner, an important mitzvah

Mentch- a Man. Someone to be proud of.

Meshuga- Crazy. Also: Meshugas (me-shu-gahss)- craziness, insanity, and Meshuganer- a crazy person

Meshulach- an emissary, one sent to collect funds

Mevatel – self-nullification, lit. "wasting"

Mezuman- the 3 people needed to say a special blessing before saying grace after meals

Middos – personality traits

Mikvah- ritual bath

Mincha- afternoon prayer service

Minhag- custom, pl. minhagim

Minhag hagoyim - a non-Jewish custom

Minyan- literally, a quorum. The number of men (10) required for a formal prayer group. Also the name of the group itself.

Mir – a famous litvish yeshiva, now based in Israel

Mitzvah- Commandment (from G-d). pl. Mitzvot, Mitzvos

Mizbayach – the table in the holy ark in the temple

MO – Modern Orthodox, a stream of orthodoxy in which followers are equally involved in the secular and religious worlds

Morah - teacher

Moshiach Tzidkenu – The righteous messiah

Motsi Shabbos/Shabbat – Literally means "After Sabbath", refers to Saturday night after the Sabbath ends.

Mussaf- the extra prayer service after Shacharis, on Sabbath and Festivals



Naches- Naches. Also pride.

Nebuchs – losers, pity cases

Neshama - soul

Nefesh, Nefesh Elokis, Nefesh HaBahamis - soul, and the parts of the soul. Nefesh elokis is the G-dly part of the soul, nefesh HaBahamis is the "animal" part of the soul. See Kabbalah or chassidus for more information.

Niggun – A wordless Chassidic song

Nusach- liturgy

Nusach Sfard- the liturgy chosen by the Chassidim, in opposition to the traditional liturgy usually used by European Jews, Nusach Ashkenaz



off the derech - leaving the practice of orthodox Judaism

Olam Habah - the world to come; heaven

Oneg - literally "a pleasure"; also refers to a party held during Shabbat, commonly after dinner



Parnossa- livelihood, the ability to earn a living, decent wage

Parsha - Portion of the Torah reading

Peyes- curly side burns (it is the chassidic custom never to cut them)

Pirkei Avot - teachings of the fathers; a section of the mishnah

Pisher - a young child

Purim - the holiday that celebrates Queen Esther and Mordechai's victory over the evil Haman

Putz – not a polite word. Literally is the Yiddish word for a part of the male anatomy. Generally refers to a not nice person, a jerk, or as the word says in English, a d-ck





Rabbi- one who is ordained to teach or lead Jews

Rashi- Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, one of the greatest commentators on the Torah and Talmud. His commentary is included almost every chumash and talmud bavli printed today.

Rav - A non-chassidich community leader, personal rabbi or teacher

Reb Shlomo- Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Rebbe- A chassidic Rabbi, who is the leader of his community; or a personal Rabbi or teacher

Rebbetzin – the wife of a rabbi

refuah shelemah - a complete recovery

Ribono Shel Olam - Master of the Universe

Rosh HaShana - Jewish new year



Schar- rewardSchnorer- a beggar; a moocher; derogatory term for MeshulachSefira - the time period between the holidays Pesach and ShavuotSegulah - Can have various meanings depending on context. Can mean, sign, symbol, treasure, portent. Can lead to something which is desired, e.g. drinking "segulah wine" can lead to becoming married.Seuda - a festive mealSfard, Sephardic - referring to Jews of Spain and Northern Africa, also from Arab countriesShabbos, Shabbat- the Jewish Sabbath, SaturdayShabbos Kallah - a celebration of the bride on the Shabbos before her weddingShacharis- the morning prayer serviceShadchan – matchmaker, in modern Hebrew it means “stapler”Shalom Bayis - peace in the home; harmony between a husband and wifeShalosh seudos/Seudah shlishit - the third meal of Shabbat, often held communally at synagogueShamayim – heavens, literally and figurativelyShavuot - holiday celebrating when the Torah was given to the JewsShayach - appropriateSheigetz - a non-Jewish manSheitel – wig, as worn by orthodox womenSheilemus - Whole, completeShema – One of the fundamental prayers of Judaism, recited at least twice a day, and is contained inside a mezuzah.Shemonah Esrei – One of the fundamental prayers of Judaism, recited once at each of the three daily prayer times, this is the silent devotion prayer.Shemurah Matzah - hand made matzah, made from wheat "guarded" from the time of growing until the time of bakingSheva Brochas (or Sheva Brachot) – The special seven blessings recited in the first week of a new marriage. Also the seven days of festive meals prepared in honor of bride and groom.Shidduch, shidduchim – blind, pre-arranged dates for the orthodox worldShiur - lesson or classShlep- v. to drag. n. someone who looks like he was draggedShliach, Shlichus – a messenger, generally used as a chabad term for lubavitchers doing outreachShliach Tzibur- one who leads the prayer serviceShlump- messy, sloppy, a slobShmoneh Esrei- part of the Jewish Prayer Service; the "18" blessingsShmooze, Shmoozing- talk, chat casuallyShomer shabbos - observes the laws of shabbosShomer kashrus - keeps kosherShomer negia - does not touch a person of the opposite sex who is not a blood relativeShpritz - sprayShul- synagogueShvarim - broken, refers to matzhaShvits- sweat, steambathShteeble- an informal prayer group in someone's house, may become more formalShtreimel- A big, round, furry hat, favored by ChassidimShtyging – learning full timeSiddur - prayer bookSiman - signSimchas- celebrationsSimchas Torah - rejoicing in the Torah; one of the High Holidayssit shiva - mourn the loss of a close relative by staying at home for seven daysSiyyum - joyous celebration observed when a study group completes a tractate of the Talmud or when the writing of a Torah scroll is completedSlichos - Selichot (Heb. סליחות) are Jewish penitential poems and prayers, especially those said in the period leading up to the High Holy Days, and on Fast DaysSufganiot - traditional doughnuts eaten on Chanuka (single: sufgania)Sukka- a temporary shack, with branches or bamboo roof, used on SukkosSukkos- The holiday of Tabernacles[...]



Tachlis - literally business; refers to dating seriously toward marriage

Talmid Chochom - literally a wise student, generally refers to a man who is very learned in Torah and Jewish studies, this is a compliment

Talmud Bavli-The Babylonian Talmud. This is a synopsis of more than 300 years of analysis in the Mishnah in the Babylonian Academies. Generally regarded to have been completed by 700 CE.

Talmud Yerushalmi- The Jerusalem or Palestinian Talmud. A synopsis of almost 200 years of analysis in the Mishnah in the Academies of Israel (mainly Tiberius and Caeseria) and completed about 350 CE. Due to the locations of the Israeli Academies, they demonstrate a greater focus on agricultural law. To most Orthodox Jews, in disputes between the Talmuds, the Babylonian one is considered supreme.

Takanah - a proclamation. Literally a "fix" of an existing Jewish law to address a new circumstance or correct a problem.

Tanach or Tanakh- The Jewish Bible, the Old Testament

Tatty - Father

Tehillim - the Book of Psalms

Tenaim - literally the "conditions" of the forthcoming marriage; after a contract is written and signed, it is customary to break a plate, pieces of which are a segulah for unmarried people

Tfila, Tefillos - Hebrew; prayer

Tfila Betzibur - Public prayer; Prayer with the congregation

Tfilin, Tefillin- phylacteries. Small black boxes with hebrew text inside, to be worn during prayers.

Tisha b'Av - the ninth day of the month of Av, when both Temples were destroyed; a fast day

Torah- The 5 books of Moses; the Jewish Bible; the big scroll where it is written

Traif- non-kosher

Tracht Gut V’Tzein Gut- Yiddish phrase, means "Think Good and it Will Be Good"

Trop - symbols used as musical notes for the cantillation of the Torah

Tsuris – woe, problems, worries

Tuchas- bum, rear-end. Also tush

Tzedaka – Charity Tzion – Zion, aka Israel

Tzitzis – the four cornered fringed garment worn by orthodox males

Tznius – modesty, in dress, speech, and action



Underheisen - underwear in Yiddish



Vus tutsich - what's up, what's going on