Glossary of Jewish Terms and Phrases (A – K)
For Future Reference
HaShem lit. “the Name”: used in lieu of The Ineffable Name to refer to G-d
Baruch Hashem: Bless The Name! used like, “thank G-d!” abbrev. B”H!
B’Ezrat Hashem: “G-d willing!” or “with the help of G-d.”
BS”D: abbr. for “B‘Siyata D‘Shmaya,” an oft-used Aramaic term meaning “with the help of Heaven”
Ahava: love; Ahavas Yisrael, “love of fellow Jew.”
Aliyah: to go up. immigration to Israel, “make aliyah”; to go up to the Torah in front of a congregation.
Ashkenazi: Eastern European Jew
Avodah: Service of G-d, like works and prayer.
On three things the world stands – On the Torah, on Avodah, and on Deeds of Chesed (Lovingkindess) Perkei Avos 1:2.
Avodah Zora lit. “strange service”: idol worship.
Ayin Hora: the evil eye!
Ba’al tshuva lit. “one who returns”: a newly observant Jew. abbr. BT.
Bentch, bentching: (Yiddish) Grace After Meals
Bochur, pl. bochurim: young man, esp. unmarried student, “yeshiva bochur”
Bar mitzvah: 13-year-old boy now responsible for fulfilling the commandments; the ceremony at which this rite of passage occurs. bat mitzvah for girls. comparable to confirmation for Catholics.
B’emet lit. in truth: “Really?”; “Really!”
Beis HaMikdash: the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Built twice but destroyed by invaders. Rebuilding of the third Temple in a Messianic Age is central in Jewish liturgy and theology.
Bikkur cholim: visiting the sick
B’nei: children; i.e. B’nei Yisrael (“children of Yisrael”), B’nei Noach (“children of Noah”) and B’nei Brith (lit. “children of the covenant”).
Brit (mila) lit. “covenant”: circumcision.
B’shert: destined; one’s soulmate/spouse.
B’vakasha: “Please”; “You’re welcome.”
Chag Sameach: “happy holiday!”
Challah: braided egg bread for Shabbas and holidays
Chas v’shalom lit. mercy and peace: “G-d forbid!” abbr. c”v”s. Also, chas v’chalila.
Chavrusa: study partner or group.
Charedi: ultra-observant or “ultra-Orthodox.” black hat-wearing Jews.
Charem: state of excommunication, shunning
Chaza”l (abbr. of Chachomim, Zichronom L‘Vracha): our Sages, may their Memories (be) for a Blessing.
Chazan: cantor, i.e. singer of Hebrew liturgy.
Chilul HaShem lit. “defamation of the Name”: a scandalous act or statement.
Chumash lit. “five”: The Five Books of Moses.
Chuppah: wedding canopy.
Chutzpah: sass, moxy; nerve, gall.
Chiloni: Israeli non-affiliated (secular) Jew.
Dayeinu “Enough,” “It Would Have Sufficed,” a Seder song; “Enough already!”
Derech lit. “the path”: Jewish observance. often used as on/off the derech. “his mom is terrified he’ll go off the derech.”
Diaspora: those Jews not living in Israel.
Dreidel: toy top used on Hannukah
D’var Torah lit. “word of Torah”: speech of Torah insights.
Emunah: trust in Hashem
Eretz Yisrael: The Land of Israel
Farbrengen (Yiddish): gathering, party, esp. religious or family party
Frum: religious, Orthodox. “he’s so frum.”
Galus lit. “exile”: where the Diaspora lives
Gan Aden: The Garden of Eden
Gelt: money, esp. as Hannukah gift.
Ger lit. “sojourner”: convert to Judaism.
Get: divorce document.
Golem: legendary automaton brought to life from clay by Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah).
Gevalt: interjection of shock, dismay, or alarm (from Yiddish gvald “emergency”)
Goyim lit. nations: gentiles.
HaEretz: lit. “the land.”
HaLacha lit. “the way”: Jewish law.
Halachic, halachically: by Jewish law.
HaKodesh Baruch Hu: The Holy One, Blessed He; a name for G-d.
Hasid (pl. Hasidim) lit. “pious” or going beyond: a member of a Hasidic sect, or compliment, “he’s such a hasid.”
Hasidism: an Orthodox movement focusing on chesed and going beyond the letter of the law in observance.
Hashkafa: Jewish philosophy.
Heter: halachic loophole. “his rabbi gave him a heter for fasting on Yom Kippur.”
HaMotzi: the blessing over bread
Hannukah: winter holiday memorializing the victory over the Hellenists and the miracle of the lamp that burned for 8 nights.
Im Yirtzeh Hashem: if Hashem wills it… abbr. IY”H, IYH
Kabbalas HaTorah: “receiving the Torah”
Kabbalah lit. “receive”: Jewish physics and mystical interpretations
Kaddish: mourner’s prayer
Kashrus: the laws of kosher-ness
Kefira: doubt or denial of G-d, sometimes considered mildly heretical, sometimes permitted. See here. LOL!!
Kedushin: the marriage ceremony
Kelev lit. “like heart”: a dog.
Kehilla: congregation; community
Ketubah lit. “writ”: marriage contract.
Kibbutz (pl. kibbutzim): Israeli collective farm
Kiddush: prayer/blessing for wine
Kiddush HaShem lit. sanctification of the Name: selfless act, glorious deed. opposite of chillul Hashem
Kinderlach: (small) children.
Kippah (pl. kippot): skullcap, yarmulke.
Kiruv lit. “to bring close”: religious outreach.
Klal Yisrael: The Jewish People
Klezmer: Yiddish music.
Kohen (pl. kohanim): descendant of Moses, Aaron; thus, a member of the priest class, which is still functioning.
Kol Ha’Kavod lit. “All of the respect”: all right, way to go, or a job well done. Can be used sarcastically.
Kosher: acceptable under Jewish law
Kotel: the Western Wall.
Kvell: derive deep pride or intense satisfaction. “she kvelled over her children.”
Kvetch: whine(r), complain(er)