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GLOSSARY


 

The following terms are used in this book in a particular sense.

 

Congregation: When capitalized, the term implies an assembly of Jews with a corporate identity.

Jew: One who professes but not necessarily observes the practices of Judaism; the child of a Jewess.

South-West: The English counties of Cornwall and Devon.

 

The transliteration of Hebrew words generally follows the Sephardi pronunciation, except where a word is widely used in its Ashkenasi form.

 

ADAR Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to February/March.

ADAR SHENI Month in the leap lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to March.

ALIYAH Emigration to Israel.

ALIYAH (pl. ALIYOT) Being called to the Torah.

ASHKENASIM Jews emanating from Central or Eastern Europe, cf. Sephardim.

AV Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to August.

BAAL HABAYIT (pl. BAALEI BATIM) (Vestry) member of a Congregation.

BAAL TEFILLAH Prayer leader.

BAR MITZVAH When a boy becomes thirteen years and one day old.

BAT MITZVAH When a girl becomes twelve years and one day old.

BENTSCH GOMEL To recite a thanksgiving blessing when called to the Torah after deliverance from peril.

BETH DIN Jewish court of law.

BIMAH Central platform from which the cantor conducts the prayers, and from which the Torah is read aloud to the congregation.

BRIT MILAH The Covenant of Circumcision.

CHAZAN/SHENI Cantor or second cantor.

CHEDER A school for teaching children the elements of the Jewish religion, approximating to 'Sunday school'.

CHUPPAH Marriage canopy, and hence the marriage ceremony.

COHEN (pl. COHANIM) A priest of the tribe of Levi.

ELLUL Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to September.

ETROG (pl. ETROGIM) Citrus fruit used in the ritual at the festival of Tabernacles.

GABBAI Treasurer.

GABBAI ZEDAKAH Charity treasurer.

GAONRabbinical leader of a community; any outstanding

Torah scholar.

HAFTARAH Portion from the Prophets read in the synagogue on Sabbath morning after the reading of the weekly pericope.

HaLevi A Levite.

HALITZAH See shetar halitzah, below

HAMETS Fermented grain flour whose use or even possession is forbidden on Passover.

HANUKAH Eight day Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Temple by the Hasmoneans in 165 B.C.E.

HASSID A follower of the Jewish religious and social movement founded by Israel Baal Shem Tov in the mid-eighteenth century.

HATAN BEREISHIT The first man called to the Torah at the beginning of the annual cycle of the Pentateuchal reading.

HATAN TORAH The last man called to the Torah at the end of the annual cycle of the Pentateuchal reading.

HAVDALAH Ceremony involving the use of wine, spices and lights, marking the end of the Sabbath.

HEBRAH KADDISHAH Society for the burial of the dead.

HEREM Decree of excommunication.

HESHVAN Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to November.

HEZKAT HAKEHILLA Vestry rights.

HIGH HOLYDAYS The festivals of the New Year and Day of Atonement.

HOSHANNA RABBAH The last intermediate day of Tabernacles; a minor festival in its own right.

IYYAR Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to May.

KADDISH Doxology recited for eleven months after, or on the anniversary of, the death of one's parents or other near relatives.

KAHAL (or KOHOL) The governing body of the Congregation; the vestry.

KEHILLAH Community.

KISLEV Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to December.

KOSHER (or KASHER) Proper, ritually fit. Usually used in connection with food.

KZ The initial letters of the phrase 'Kohen Zedek' (= righteous priest), often appended to the Jewish name of a priest, giving rise to the surname 'Katz'.

MATNAT YAD A Festival day on which yizkor (see below) is said.

MATZAH (pl. MATZOT) Unleavened bread eaten at Passover.

MIKVEH A bath constructed in accordance with Jewish law, in which a) a woman must immerse monthly before resuming marital relations, b) a convert must immerse to become a Jew, and c) many men immerse, particularly on the eves of Sabbaths and Festivals.

MILAH Circumcision.

MINHAG Custom or tradition, often with the force of Jewish law.

MI SHEBERACH A prayer in the name of one called to the Torah invoking blessing on him, his family, friends and communal leaders.

MITZVAH A religious obligation; an honor, such as an aliyah, bestowed on a worshipper.

MOHEL Layman or doctor who performs the religious Covenant of Circumcision.

NISAN Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to April.

OHEL Chapel in the cemetery.

OMER Period of forty-nine days between Passover and Pentecost.

ORACH (pl. ORCHIM) Visitors; worshippers in the synagogue who do not pay a membership fee to the Congregation.

PARNAS Chairman or president of the Congregation.

PESACH Passover.

PINKES A ledger; a book containing communal records.

PORGER One who removes forbidden fat and sinews from meat.

PURIM Festival occurring in March commemorating the events recorded in the book of Esther.

RAV Rabbi.

REB Honorific title corresponding to 'Mr'.

ROSH HODESH The first day or days of the Jewish month, a minor festival.

SEGAN One who bestows aliyot.

SEPHARDIM A Jew of Spanish or Portuguese descent.

SGL The initial letters of the phrase segan leviyah (= Levitical excellence), often appended to the Jewish name of a levite, and giving rise to the surname 'Segal'.

SHABBAT The Sabbath.

SHAVUOT Jewish festival of Pentecost, occurring in May.

SHECHITAH Jewish method of slaughtering food animals.

SHETAR HALITZAH Document obliging brother to contract levirate marriage or its substitute.

SHEVA BERACHOT 'Seven Blessings', recited at the wedding service, or at meals in the first week of the marriage.

SHEVAT Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally

corresponding to January/February.

SHOCHET (pl. SHOCHETIM) Slaughterer of animals for food using the method of

shechitah.

SHOOL Synagogue.

SIVAN Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally

corresponding to June.

SUCCAH Tabernacle; a room or hut with a roof of leaves and branches inhabited during the festival of Tabernacles.

SUCCOT Festival of Tabernacles, occurring in October.

TAKKANOT Regulations.

TALLIT Shawl worn by Jewish men during prayers.

TAMMUZ Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to July.

TANNAIM Conditions; contract; engagement to marry.

TEVET Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to January.

TISHRI Month in the lunar Jewish calendar, generally corresponding to October.

TORAH Parchment scroll of the Pentateuch (particularly Sefer Torah; the corpus of Jewish teachings.

TOSAFIST Medieval French and German Talmudic commentators.

TOSHAV (pl. TOSHAVIM) One who pays a membership fee for a seat in the synagogue.

TREIFAH Ritually unfit, not kosher (usually used in connection with food).

VACHER One who watches over a corpse before its burial.

YAHRZEIT Anniversary of death.

YIZKOR Commemorative prayer.

YIA Initial letters of the phrase 'Yibaneh Ireinu, Amen' (= May our city [i.e. Jerusalem] be rebuilt, Amen), appended after the name of any city in the Diaspora.

YZV Initial letters of the phrase 'Yishmereihu Zuro Ve-goalo' (= May his Rock and Redeemer protect him), appended to the Jewish name of a living Jew.

ZL Initial letters of the phrase 'Zichrono Liveracha' (= May his memory be for a blessing), appended to the name of a dead Jew.


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