“Congregation” or “community.”
kosher parchment inscribed with biblical verses from Deuteronomy (6:4-9, 11:13-21) in a mezuzah case.
La'asok b'divrei Torah
Literally, "to busy oneself with words of Torah;" the end of the blessing for Torah study.
Thirty-third day of the Omer;" a joyful and festive day that celebrates the end of a plague that took the life of thousands of Talmudic scholar Rabbi Akiba's students.
The 33rd Day of the Counting of the Omer when weddings are traditionally permitted.
"Pancake" (Yiddish); fried potato pancake often eaten on Hanukkah; plural: latkes.
Literally, “to accompany.” To accompany the dead to their final resting place is a great mitzvah and shows true honor for the dead because the deceased cannot respond to those who perform this mitzvah.
Lit. "accompanying the dead;" walking behind the casket to the gravesite.
"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.
A date palm frond with myrtle and willow sprigs attached; used in Sukkot rituals.
Literally, “for a good year.” This is a customary greeting for Rosh HaShanah. Also, “shanah tovah.”
L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu
L’shanah tovah tikateivu
"May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for a good year" is a greeting offered on Rosh HaShanah.
"Scroll;" One of the five m'gillot (plural) in the Bible: Esther, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentation and Ecclesiastes.
"Wheat money;" money collected prior to Passover and used to assist the needy to celebrate the holiday.
Maariv / Arvit
Evening prayer service. Prayed every day, though the content is different on weekdays, Shabbat, and Festivals. Derived from the Hebrew word for "evening"
The family of five sons who led the revolt against the Hellenization of Jerusalem and became the heroes of the Hanukkah story.
madricha (feminine); madrachim (plural)
Guide, youth leader, or teacher’s assistant.
"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.
“Telling.” The section of the Pesach (Passover) Haggadah designed to tell the Passover story.
"Mother tongue;" affectionate term for Yiddish.
"Bitter;" the bitter herb or vegetable (i.e., horseradish) eaten during the seder to symbolize the bitter plight of the enslaved Israelites.
“Presents for the poor” (Hebrew). Tzedakah (charitable giving) in honor of Purim.
matza, matzo, matzoh
Unleavened bread eaten during the seder that symbolizes the hurried departure of the Israelites from Egypt. Eating matzah is obligatory only at the seder. During the rest of Pesach, one may abstain from matzah as long as all chametz is avoided; plural: matzot
Lit. "a good star." Colloquially, "congratulations."
Literally, “belonging to the groom;” describes the relationship of spouse’s parents to the other spouse’s parents
Seven- or nine-branched candelabra; commonly refers to the nine-branched Hanukkah lamp; plural: menorot.
An Eastern European ceremony celebrating the marriage of the last child in a family. Seated on chairs in the center of the dance floor, the parents are presented with bouquets and circled by the company in a dance that celebrates the completion of their parental responsibility.
Literally, “doorpost;” a decorative case that holds a handwritten parchment scroll of the Shema and V’ahavta. Mezuzot are placed on external and internal doorposts of homes to fulfill the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “inscribe them [these words] on the doorposts of your house.”
Literally, “Who is like You?” Verses from Exodus 15:11 that are incorporated into the prayer service. These verses are an excerpt from the song that the biblical Israelites sang after crossing the Sea of Reeds to safety.
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.
characteristics, values, or virtues of Jewish life that focus on becoming a better and more fulfilled person; plural: middot
Rabbinic interpretation of a passage from the Bible. Midrash falls into two categories: midrash halachah is concerned with religious practice and law, and midrash aggadah is concerned with interpreting biblical narratives and stories,
A ritual pool or gathering of waters used for ritual immersion to mark a significant life cycle moment, celebration, or transition, or as a component of the conversion ritual. In some Jewish communities, married women immerse each month at the conclusion of their menstrual cycle. Customarily, a bride immerses in a mikvah prior to her wedding and today, both brides and grooms might immerse prior to their wedding. Some people immerse to prepare for Shabbat or holidays. There are many creative rituals for using the mikvah at any significant lifecycle moment. Immersion in a mikvah is also a final step in the conversion process; a natural body of water also can serve as a mikvah. Plural: mikvaot.
Afternoon prayer service. Prayed every day, though the content is different on weekdays, Shabbat, and Festivals.
Custom, which may carry the weight of halachah (law).
"Custom of the place," i.e., local custom.
Quorum of 10 people necessary for public prayer in traditional communities; plural: minyanim.
Miriam's cup or cup of Miriam
A contemporary item added by some to the Pesach (Passover) seder. Often placed next to Elijah’s cup, Miriam’s cup highlights the role of Miriam and women in the Exodus story. The cup is filled with water to honor and remember that Miriam’s well sustained the people of Israel in the desert after the Exodus.
Literally, “a sanctuary of prayer.” The title of the newest prayer book of the Reform Movement in North America.
mishloach manos, shalachmanos
"Sending of portions" (Hebrew). Baskets of sweets and other foods exchanged among friends on Purim.
Literally “repetition.” Mishnah is a Jewish legal code edited by Rabbi Judah HaNasi in Palestine in 220 C.E. It is the first Jewish legal literature after the codification of the Hebrew scriptures around 90 C.E. Also called “Torah Shebal Peh,” “Oral Torah” or “Oral Law.”
"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.