Adar, 12th month of the Jewish year (February/March). In a leap year, Adar II is inserted after Adar I.
Adonai Elohenu, “The Lord our God.”
Adon ʿOlam, “Lord of the Universe,” evening prayer.
Adversary, Satan, “not an independent force of evil” but “the counsel for the prosecution in a trial when human lives are passing under divine judgment.” (The Koren Rosh HaShana Maḥzor.)
Akedah, the binding of Isaac.
Aleph, “a,” 1st letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
ʿAliyyah, “ascent,” pilgrimage or immigration to Ereẓ Yisrael.
Amidah, “standing,” the main Jewish prayer, which is recited standing.
Ark, in the Bible the most sacred object, a portable chest with the tables of the Ten Commandments. In a synagogue the shrine in which the Torah scrolls are kept.
Aron Kodesh, “the Holy Ark,” the shrine in the synagogue in which the Torah scrolls are kept.
Ashkenazim, a term with many meanings, for instance Jews following the North European tradition.
Av, 11th month of the Jewish year (July/August).
Avinu Malkenu, “Our Father, Our King,” litany in the Yom Kippur service.
Baʿal tekiʿah, “master blower,” shofar blower in the synagogue.
Bar miẓvah, “son of the commandment,” religiously adult male Jew; also the ceremony at which a 13-year old boy becomes an adult member of the Jewish religious community.
Bat miẓvah, “daughter of the commandment,” religiously adult female Jew; also the ceremony at which a 12-year old girl becomes an adult member of the Jewish religious community.
Berakhah, pl. berakhot, blessing, praise of God.
Beth, “b,”, 2nd letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Beth knesset, “house of assembly,” synagogue.
Beth midrash, “house of study,” synagogue as a place for the study of the Bible and the Talmud.
Bimah, platform in the synagogue for reading the Torah and blowing the shofar.
Bishivah shel Malah, “In the convocation of the Court above,” formulaic prayer, authorizing the congregation to pray together with transgressors of the Law, which is necessary to make possible the participation of all Jews in the Yom Kippur service.
Brit milah, “covenant of the circumcision.”
Cherub, pl. cherubim, winged celestial being.
Chutzpah, Ḥuẓpah, impertinence.
Dalet, “d,” 4th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Davenen, to pray.
Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
Days of Awe, period of ten days of repentance between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur.
Dor Ha-Midbar, “generation of the desert,” the Israelites living in the desert before entering Ereẓ Yisrael.
Dybbuk, disturbed soul of a dead person which possesses the body of a living person.
El Male Raḥamim, “God, full of compassion,” prayer for the repose of the dead.
Elohim, name of God.
Elul, 12th month of the Jewish year (August/September).
Ereẓ Yisrael, “the land of Israel,” both in the Bible and in modern times.
ʿEruv, large area in which there is no prohibition on carrying items on the Sabbath.
Gabbai, Gabbe, assistant of a Rebbe.
Gimel, “g,” 3rd letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Goldene Medine, di, “The Golden Country,” the United States of America.
Griner, “green person,” new Jewish immigrant in the United States.
Haftarah, reading from a prophetical Bible book on the Sabbath or a Holy Day.
Haggadah, the nonlegal contents of the Talmud.
Halakhah, the collective body of Jewish religious laws.
Hallel, “praise” with psalms, especially Pss. 113-118.
Hallelujah, “Praise the Lord.”
Ḥasidism, Jewish pietist renewal movement, originating in East Europe in the 18th century.
Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment.
Ha-Tikvah, “the hope,” national hymn of the State of Israel.
Havdalah, prayer and ritual to conclude Sabbath.
Hazkarat Neshamot, prayer for the dead.
Ḥaẓoẓrah, pl. ḥaẓoẓrot, silver trumpet in the Bible.
Ḥazzan, cantor in the synagogue.
Ḥeder, Jewish religious primary school.
Heh, “h,” 5th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Ḥerem, excommunication from the Jewish community.
High Holy Days, Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur.
Ḥukkat Ha-Goyyim, “Statute of the Gentiles,” ban on adoption of non-Jewish practices.
Israel, land or kingdom in the Bible; the people in that kingdom; the Jewish people; or the modern Jewish state.
Jubilee, in the Bible, the year of release once every fifty years.
Kabbalah, “receiving” (of tradition), esoterical and mystical tradition in Judaism, originating from the 12th century.
Kaddish, “holy,” Aramaic prayer magnifying God’s name, also said at at funerals and memorials.
Kehillah, Jewish religious community.
Keren, animal horn as a wind instrument or as a symbol of strength.
Kethuvim, “writings,” all Bible books except the five books of Moses and the prophetical books.
Kippah, skullcap worn by Jewish men and boys.
Kittel, white garment worn by the congregation on the High Holy Days. Also burial shroud.
Kiẓẓur Shulḥan ʿArukh, concise Shulḥan ʿArukh.
Klaus, small Ashkenazi synagogue.
Klezmer, “musical instruments,” traditional instrumental folk music of the Ashkenazim.
Kof, “q/k,” 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Kol Nidrei, “all vows,” prayer in the Yom Kippur service in which all personal vows made unwittingly, rashly, or unknowingly are declared null and void.
Kosher, sanctioned by Jewish law, ritually fit for use.
Kera Satan, “May Satan be torn,” acronym in a prayer in the Rosh Ha-Shanah service.
Kvetsh, “stress,” stressed, pinched tone in klezmer.
Lamed, “l,” 9th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Lekhah U-Lekhah, “to You and to You,” Ashkenazi song, sung after Passover meal.
LXX, “Seventy,” Septuagint, Greek bible translation from the 3rd to 1st centuries BCE.
Maʿariv, evening service in the synagogue.
Maḥzor, pl. maḥzorim, prayer book for a Holy Day.
Makrei, prompter of the shofar blasts to prevent the baʿal tekiʿah from making mistakes.
Malkhuyyot, “Kingship,” the first of the three central Blessings in Musaf in the Rosh Ha-Shanah service.
Maven, trusted expert.
Megillah, the scroll with the Bible book of Esther, read in the Purim service.
Meḥayeh Ha-Metim, prayer “Who revives the dead.”
Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, a midrash on Exodus.
Menorah, seven-branched candelabrum.
Mentsh, decent, responsible person.
Merkavah, “chariot,” mystical tradition contemplating the divine throne or chariot.
Midrash, method to discover meanings other than literal in the Bible.
Minḥah, afternoon service in the synagogue.
Minyan, quorum of ten men for various liturgical purposes.
Mishnah, “oral instruction,” oral law compilation from the 2nd century CE, the foundation text for the Talmud. “mishnah,” with a small m, plural “mishnayyot,” one single section from the Mishnah.
Miẓraḥim, in Israël: Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and the Caucasus, or their descendants.
Miẓvah, pl. miẓvot, religious commandment.
Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Musaf, “supplement,” additional service on Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur and other Holy Days.
Naḥamu, naḥamu ami, “Comfort, oh comfort My people” (Isa. 40:1).
Neʿilah, final service of Yom Kippur.
Ner tamid, “eternal lamp,” ever-burning lamp in the synagogue.
Neviʾim, “Prophets,” the prophetical books of the Bible.
Niggun, pl. niggunim, Ḥasidic religious melody without words.
Nusaḥ Ashkenaz, “Ashkenazi style,” Ashkenazi version of a prayer book.
ʿOmer, the period of seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, which has become a period of mourning.
Parokhet, curtain before the Ark.
Passover, Pesaḥ, Holy Day in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt.
Pei, “p,” 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Pesaḥ, Passover, Holy Day in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt.
Pesukei de-Zimra, “Verses of Song,” collection of biblical hymns at the beginning of the morning service.
Pirkei Avot, “Chapters of the Fathers,” Mishnah tractate consisting of ethical sayings.
Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer, “Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer,” midrash on Genesis, Exodus and Numbers.
Piyyut, pl. Piyyutim, liturgical poem.
Purim, Holy Day in the month of Adar to commemorate the salvation of the Jews in ancient Persia.
Rabbi, “my master,” religious leader of a Jewish community.
Reb, Rebbe, religious leader of a Ḥasidic community. Also “Mister,” the normal form of address in Yiddish.
Rebbe, religious leader of a Ḥasidic community.
Reform, movement for Jewish religious modernization, originating in the 19th century.
Rosh Ha-Shanah, “head of the year,” the Jewish New Year on 1 Tishrei.
Sameḥ, “s,” 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Satan, “the counsel for the prosecution in a trial when human lives are passing under divine judgment.” (The Koren Rosh HaShana Maḥzor: 494-7).
Seder, ritual Passover meal.
Sefer Torah, Torah scroll.
Sephardim, a term with many meanings, for instance Jews following the South European tradition.
Sephirah, Omer, the period of seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, which has become a period of mourning.
Shabbat, 7th and last day of the week, day of rest.
Shabbat Teshuvah, “shabbat of repentance,” the shabbat between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur.
Shaḥarit, the morning service in the synagogue.
Shamesh, the sexton of a synagogue.
Shavuot, “weeks,” Feast of Weeks.
Sheheḥeyanu, “Who has kept us in life,” thanksgiving for new and unusual experiences.
Shema Israel, “Hear, Israel,” the most important Jewish prayer.
Shemoneh esreh, “eighteen,” the Amidah.
Shevarim, the second traditional shofar blast, consisting of three short tones.
Shin, “sh,” 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Shoah, “catastrophe,” the Holocaust.
Shofar, pl. shofarot, ritual wind instrument, made of the horn of a ram or another kosher animal.
Shofarot, “Shofars,” the third of the three central Blessings in the Musaf in the Rosh Ha-Shanah service.
Shoklen, shuckling, the swaying of Jewish worshipers during prayer.
Shtetl, small town in East Europe with a large Jewish population.
Shul, Ashkenazi synagogue.
Shulḥan ʿArukh, “laid table,” standard code of Jewish law and practice, written in the 16th century.
Siddur, pl. siddurim, “order,” the Jewish daily prayer book.
Sukkah, “booth,” Mishnah tractate on Sukkot.
Sukkot, “booths,” festival in the month of Tishrei to commemorate the forty years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.
Tallit, prayer shawl.
Talmud, “teaching,” comprehensive compilation of teachings from the classic period of rabbinic Judaism (3rd to 6th centuries CE).
Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, acronym of Torah (the first five books), Neviʾim (Prophets) and Kethuvim (Writings).
TaRaT, acronym of the shofar blasts Tekiʿah-teRuʿah-Tekiʿah.
TaShat, acronym of the shofar blasts Tekiʿah-Shevarim-Tekiʿah.
TaShRaT, acronym of the shofar blasts Tekiʿah-Shevarim-teRuʿah-Tekiʿah.
Tav, “t,” 22nd and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Tefillin, phylacteries, two small, cubical boxes containing verses from the Torah, bound to the left arm and to the head during prayer.
Tekiʿah, pl. tekiot, the first traditional shofar blast, consisting of one long tone.
Tekiʿah gedolah, “great tekiʿah,” the fourth traditional shofar blast, consisting of one very long tone.
Teruʿah, pl. teruot, the third traditional shofar blast, consisting of nine or more very short tones. Also shofar blowing in general. In the Bible also an energetic shouting.
Tikkun ʿOlam, “repair of the world,” the perfection of the world by the establishment of God’s kingdom.
Tisha Be-Av, “9 of (the month of) Av,” day of mourning in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple.
Tishrei, 1st month of the Jewish year (September/October).
Tokeʿah, shofar blower in the synagogue.
Torah, “instruction, teaching,” the first five books of the Bible. Also the corpus of sacred literature.
Torah scroll, Bible book or part of it in the form of a scroll.
U-Netanneh Tokef, “Let us voice the power of this day’s sanctity,” piyyut in the Rosh Ha-Shanah service and Yom Kippur service.
Vav, “v,” 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Yeshivah, Talmud school.
YHVH, in the Bible and the prayer books the most frequent name of God, never to be pronounced; instead, one says “Adonai” (“my Lord”) or “Ha-Shem” (“the Name”).
Yigdal, “Great (is the living God and praised),” hymn in various rituals.
YIVO, acronym for “Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut,” Institute for Jewish Research.
Yizkor, “May (God) remember,” prayer in memory of the dead and for their repose.
Yom Haʿaẓmaʾut, Israeli Independence Day.
Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement,” the most important Jewish Holy Day.
Yom Teruʿah, “Day of the shofar blowing,” Rosh Ha-Shanah.
Yud, “i/y,” 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Ẓaddik, pious and holy man, Ḥasidic rabbi.
Zayin, “z,” 7th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Zikhronot, “Remembrances,” the second of the three central Blessings in Musaf of the Rosh Ha-Shanah service.
Ẓimẓum, “contraction,” in Kabbalah: God’s contraction of Himself so as to leave space for creation.
Zion, mountain in Jerusalem; also a name for the Temple Mount or the city of Jerusalem.
Ẓiẓit, fringes on the corners of the prayer shawl.
Zohar, “brilliance,” the most important mystical work of the Kabbalah, written in the 13th century.
In the Hebrew terms, stress is not indicated. In modern Israeli pronunciation, it is often on the last syllable, whereas it is on the penultimate syllable in Yiddish.
The transliteration of the ayin is marked by a raised half-circle: ʿ and in some words, the aleph is marked by ʾ.
Transliteration of Hebrew terms generally follows the Encyclopaedia Judaica, though the EJ is in itself not consistent; probably, complete consistency in transliteration is not possible.
Transliteration of Yiddish terms is according to the YIVO standard.
Differing spellings in the sources are, in most cases, left unchanged.
In the music chapters, the American octave names are used; C4 equals c’ or the central C of the piano.
Melody notes are connected by hyphens (“A-C-E”) and chord notes by slashes (“A/C/E”). Interval names are consequently written with numerals (“5th”).