Glossary

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Literally meaning, a complete healing. Used in modern Hebrew as "get well soon."

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.

"Compassion," from rechem (womb).

 

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (aka Maimonides), 11th century Egyptian scholar, physician.

Yiddish term used for the wife of a rabbi. More commonly used in Orthodox communities.

A denomination of Judaism started by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan in New York in the 1920s. Kaplan viewed Judaism as a civilization that arose from the history, tradition, and culture of Judaism.  Reconstructionist Judaism does not adhere to the theology of “chosenness.” It is the smallest Jewish denomination in the United States.

A denomination of Judaism that started in Germany in the mid-1800s and has flourished in the United States from the 1880s and on. Reform Judaism developed as a Jewish response to modernity and sought to answer questions of how to be both Jewish and modern in an increasingly complex world. Today, Reform Judaism is the largest denomination of affiliated Jews in North America.

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.

Literally, “head of the month.” Rosh Chodesh marks the beginning of each Hebrew month when there is a new moon (when there is no moon visible in the sky). Rosh Chodesh is sometimes celebrated as a women’s holiday; tradition says that women received the holiday of Rosh Chodesh because they refused to participate in the building of the idolatrous Golden Calf. On Rosh Chodesh, Torah is read and special prayers are recited in a synagogue.