"Going up." The honor of being called to recite the blessings before and after the Torah reading. Also refers to immigration to Israel, to "make aliyah" to Israel; plural: aliyot. Lit. "Ascent."
Literally, “standing.” A central prayer of the worship service, often recited privately. A chain of blessings in which the first three and final three are always the same, and the intermediate blessings change based on the day (i.e., Shabbat, weekday, holidays). Also called the Sh’moneh Esreih (literally, “eighteen”) and HaT’fila (literally, “the Prayer”).
"Our Father, Our King"/"Our Parent, Our Ruler" A prayer (and song) chanted during the High Holiday period. Describes two simultaneous ways in which people might relate to God: the intimate relationship of a parent and the powerful awe of a ruler.
Baruch atah, Adonai
Literally, “Blessed are You, the Eternal;” the beginning of the formula of Hebrew blessings.
Literally, “Let us bless.” This prayer marks the beginning of Jewish communal worship in a service, It uses a call and response format through which the leader invites the congregation to bless God.
“House of assembly.” A synagogue or gathering place for prayer, study, and other communal activities. It is the most common Hebrew term for synagogue, which also may be called a beit midrash (a house of study) or a beit t’filah (a house of prayer).
“House of study.” A synagogue or gathering place that is a dedicated study space. A synagogue is also called a beit k’neset (a house of meeting/assembly) or a beit t’filah (a house of prayer).
“House of prayer.” A synagogue or gathering place in which Jews pray. A synagogue is also called a beit k’neset (a house of meeting/assembly) or a beit midrash (a house of study).
The platform in the synagogue from which which worship services are led and from which the Torah is read. The bimah, usually raised, can be placed in the front or the middle of the sanctuary.
Prayer said upon surviving a life-threatening illness.
Blessing after meals. A series of blessings recited after meals, including blessings that express gratitude for sustenance, the land, Jerusalem, and the positive relationship between God and the Jewish people. There are liturgical variations/additions to Birkat HaMazon for Shabbat, festivals, and weddings.
Priestly Benediction—Numbers 6:22-27.
Hebrew word for “cantor,” meaning a trained clergyperson who specializes in Jewish liturgical music and leading worship through song.
The Torah in the form of a book. The word “Chumash” derives from the Hebrew word chamesh (five) because the Torah is the first five books of the Bible. Used during communal worship and study, the Chumash often includes commentaries on the Torah text.
"Word(s) of Torah." (pl. divrei Torah) Refers to the address to the congregation delivered by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah after the Torah reading. The Hebrew root daled-vet-resh refers in the Hebrew Bible to God's words. Hence, this is an address that should be cognizant of and reflective of holy themes and ideas.
Yiddish for “pray.” Typically involves Hebrew chanting, traditional melodies, and some movement during prayer.
"Wrapper." Refers to the person who dresses the Torah following its reading.
"encircle, round off, circle around, orbit;" procession of worshippers carrying Torah scrolls that circles the sanctuary; plural hakafot.
Literally, “separation." The Saturday night home ritual that separates the Sabbath from the beginning of the new week. The ritual uses wine, spices, and candles to transition from Sabbath to the weekdays.
Lit. "A study of a prayer(s)." Refers to personal reflections on a prayer in the liturgy. (pl. iyunim–iyunei t'filah)
“Receiving Shabbat.” A special collection of prayers recited to welcome Shabbat on Friday evening.
An Aramaic prayer recited in several iterations during a worship service. One iteration is Kaddish Yatom (Mourner’s Kaddish), which is recited by mourners (immediate family members) during the mourning period immediately following death, and on the yahrzeit (anniversary of a death).
One’s personal intention or direction of the heart when praying or performing mitzvot; the intentions and devotions individuals bring to their own prayer; often juxtaposed with keva.
Fixed prayer; the set structure of Jewish liturgy; often juxtaposed with kavanah.
"Sanctification;" blessing recited or chanted over wine (or grape juice), emphasizing the holiness of Shabbat and festivals.
A head-covering often worn during worship and while in a sanctuary, although some people choose to wear a kippah all the time; plural: kippot. In Orthodox communities, only men and boys wear kippot, while in liberal Jewish communities some women and girls choose to wear kippot. Also called a yarmulke (Yiddish) or skullcap.
"All Vows;" prayer recited on the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar;
"Ritually fit;" kashrut (Hebrew); pertaining most commonly to food that is fit to be eaten according to Jewish law; kosher also applies to objects that are ritually fit for use (i.e., Torah scrolls, tallit, etc.)
Literally, “sanctification” or “holiness.” The word also refers to the third section of the Amidah prayer.
La'asok b'divrei Torah
Literally, "to busy oneself with words of Torah;" the end of the blessing for Torah study.
"Learning Torah." The learning (or occupation with words of Torah) is considered greater than all of the commandments combined because, mystically, engagement with the words in the Torah is an act of yichud—unification with God in the world.
"Scroll;" One of the five m'gillot (plural) in the Bible: Esther, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentation and Ecclesiastes.
Evening prayer service. Prayed every day, though the content is different on weekdays, Shabbat, and Festivals.
"Lifter." Refers to the person who lifts the Torah following the communal reading. The magbia lifts and turns his/her back to the congregation so that all may physically see at least three columns of the scroll.
Mi Sheberach, mi she-bei-rach
"May the One who blessed;" a prayer often recited after a person has been honored with an aliyah; also commonly recited as a prayer for those in need of physical and/or spiritual healing.
Afternoon prayer service. Prayed every day, though the content is different on weekdays, Shabbat, and Festivals.
Quorum of 10 people necessary for public prayer in traditional communities; plural: minyanim.
Literally, “a sanctuary of prayer.” The title of the newest prayer book of the Reform Movement in North America.
"Repetition of the Torah." This 11th century law code was codified by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (also known as Maimonides or RAMBAM) in Alexandria, Egypt. It stirred controversy for 100 years because the RAMBAM dispensed with Talmudic methodolgy and the citation of sources in the interest of presenting a clear guide to the Jewish community on what to do and how to do it in all areas of life.
The additional prayer service on Shabbat and holidays, immediately following Shacharit, the morning service. Musaf generally is not recited in Reform congregations.
Literally, “locking.” The service that concludes Yom Kippur. The name alludes to the metaphorical locking of the heavenly gates at the end of the day.
names for God
YHVH, Adonai, Elohim, El, Rachamim, El Shadai, Ha-makom, Ha-shem, Yah
The most holy of these names is YHVH—otherwise known in Greek as the four-letter Tetragrammaton. This Name was said once annually by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) on the afternoon of Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 C.E., knowledge of how this Name was pronounced passed from the community. Most scholars believe it was articulated as "Yahweh." Today, though the Hebrew letters—yod-heh-vav-heh—are printed in the Torah and religious writings of the Jewish people, it is never pronounced as it was once said. Instead, the name Adonai (meaning, "my Master" or "my Lord") is said. Note the vocalization (i.d., vowels) beneath YHVH is usually identical to the vocalization of Adonai. Some Jews write "God" as "G-d." This second spelling leaving out the "o" derives from this tradition of not pronouncing the holiest of God's names, YHVH. It is, however, a stretch to transfer this idea to the English designation of God, and the Reform movement does not accept this variant spelling, though many Reform Jews continue to do so.
"Lights" that are kindled at the beginning of Shabbat and festivals. Traditionally, women recite this blessing, but men and boys may join in as well or lead the blessing.
Style or type of prayer service; rite that reflects the origins of a specific Jewish community; musical mode of a worship service that varies depending on when the service is being conducted (weekday, Shabbat, festival).
Lit. "My master" or "My teacher"—the Yiddish pronunciation is Rebbe (In the Chassidic world, rabbis are referred to as Rebbe). In Orthodox communities the Rav (the suffix is possessive) is a master of the law. In Conservative and Reform communities, the rabbi serves as a community spiritual leader, a teacher and pastor, among many other functions.
A genre of Jewish literature developed from the period of the exile in Babylonia to the present. In the typical format, a legal question is posed and a legal response is offered. There are thousands of responsa addressing virtually every aspect of Jewish ritual and ethical life. Singular: responsum.
Seder K’riat HaTorah
Literally, “the order of the Torah reading.” The section of the worship service in which the Torah scroll is read. Reading of the Torah scroll occurs in synagogue on Monday and Thursday mornings, on Shabbat morning and afternoons, and on all Jewish holidays. In some Reform congregations, the Torah also is read at services on Friday evenings.