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Ayde Hebrew for witness.

Ai a city in ancient Palestine.

Adnos To change a decree.

Alil (pl. alilim) false god(s).

Aleinu (lit., 'it is incumbent upon us'). Prayer consisting of two passages (Aleinu and V'al Kein) and a follow up paragraph (the Al Tirah) recited at the conclusion of each of the three daily prayer services (see Siddur Tehillat Hashem p.84).

Aleph first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerical value of one.

Amidah See She'minah Esrei.

Anshei Knesses HaGedolah lit., Men of the Great Assembly. Religious body active at the beginning of the second Temple. It embodied Jewish leadership and served as the supreme authority in religious matters. It was composed of 120 prominent Jewish scholars.

Ashkenazi a Jew of central or east European origin or ancestry.

Asiyah fourth of the four worlds, generally translated 'Action'. But this term is neither definitive nor descriptive. Since all four worlds are in a sense 'action'. Asiyah should be understood as the final stage in the creative process.

Atem Nitzavim Hayom lit. You are standing today, referring to Rosh Hashanah. First three words of Parshas Nitzavim, the 7th Portion in Deuteronomy.

Atzilus world of 'Emanation,' highest of the four worlds. Nearest to the source of creation, the En Sof, hence, still in a state of infinity.


Beis second letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of two.

Bris Milah

Camay Heaven.

Chabad the first three of the ten Sefiros. An acrostic formed of the initial letters of the Hebrew words chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding) and da'as (knowledge), 'Chabad' is the name of the intellectual movement, founded by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

Chazzan one who leads the minyan in prayer; the cantor. (Also see She'liach Tzibbur.)

Cheder lit., 'room'; pl. Chedorim a Jewish elementary school.

Dalet fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of four.

Elokus lit. divinity, G-dliness.

Gaon lit. 'esteemed one'; pl. Ga'onim a Torah genius; when capitalized the 'Gaon' usually refers specifically to Rav Eliyahu of Vilna (1720-1797).

Galal Hebrew term for idolatry.

Gimmel third letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of three.

Hashem lit. the name; a Hebrew term used to describe G-d.

Hayom the day.


Kavanah lit. attunement; heartfelt mental and spiritual concentration.

Kiddush Levanah


Kelipah bark or shell, the symbol frequently used in Kabbalah to denote evil and the source of sensual desires in human nature. Often mentioned together with Sitra Achra.

L'cha Hashem HaGedulah verse in I Chronicles 2911 meaning 'To You G-d the greatness'.

Ma'ariv evening prayer service.

Malchiyot lit. 'kingship' a portion of the Rosh Hashanah Musaf service.

Milvado infinite.

Minchah lit., 'the offering', afternoon prayer service.

Minyan pl. minyonim a quorum for public prayer consisting of ten such Jews.

Mitzvah, pl. mitzvos - (lit. 'command') a religious precept; one of the Torah's 613 commandments.

Musaf an afternoon service on Shabbos and Festivals.

Neshamah soul; usually refers to the divine soul. But all things are said to have a soul, which is the creative and preserving divine force. Neshamah is the highest of three categories comprising the human soul.

Piyyut cantorial hymns.

Posek (pl. Poskim) Rabbi authorized to issue definitive ruling of law.

Purim Feast of Lots, or feast of Esther, taking place on the 14th day of Adar.

Rav (Abba Aricha) (third century) Babylonian amora. According to some, he was the author of the Aleinu prayer.

Rosh Rabbenu Asher ben Yechiel. A talmudic codifier whose responsa are a primary source for history of the Spanish Jews of the fourteenth century. His decisions (Piskei HaRosh), a compendium of Jewish law, are still standard.

Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second of the month of Tishrei.

Sammach fifteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of sixty.

Sephard a Jew of Spanish or Portuguese origin or ancestry. One of the main branches in world Jewry.

Seva hoary years.

Shema a text consisting of three passages of the Torah, to be recited during the morning and evening services, and before retiring at night, beginning with the words Shema Yisrael (e.g., Siddur Tehillat Hashem p.46;) also recited as part of a death bed confession.

Sheli'ach Tzibbur see Chazzan.

She'monah Esrei The 'Eighteen Benedictions,' which constitute the central feature of the daily prayer recided silently, while standing. Afterwards in all but the evening service, these benedictions are repeated aloud by the Chazzan.

Shofar a ram's horn used as a wind instrument, sounded in biblical times as a signal, and in modern times at synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Shor Hebrew for ox.

Shtender a prayer table.

Sof alternate spelling for 'Taf' - twenty-second letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of four hundred.

Tammuz Hebrew month corresponding to June - July.

Tanna an author of the Mishnah.

Torah 1. The Pentateuch 2. The entire body of the Jewish religious literature, law and teaching as contained chiefly in the Old Testament and the Talmud.

Tzavta attachment.

Um'umod Hebrew term for standing.

Vov Sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet; numerical equivalent of six.

Vaya'as Elokim es Harakieh verse in Genesis 17 meaning 'G-d made the firmament'.

Yeshu Hebrew term often used to refer to Jesus.

Yeshiva (pl. Yeshivas) Torah academy for advanced studies.

Yoshve Tevel (lit. the inhabitance of the world.) Hebrew expression for people who involve themselves in worldly matters.

Zikna old age.

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