Amorah (pl. Amoram):
Scholar of the era when the Talmud (Gamorah) was written.
German/Northern European, regarding both a style of prayer (Nusach Ashkenaz) and the community of Jews from Northern Europe, from France to Russia.
Av Bais Din:
Chief Justice (lit., father of the court)
Abraham. The first Avraham was the first of the three generations of patriarchs, and is also called Avraham Avinu, Our Father Abraham.
A religious court.
Aramaic equivalent of ben, son of—e.g., Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
son of—e.g., “Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon” means Rabbi Moshe son of Maimon.
Eight-day holiday, usually in December, celebrating the re-dedication of the Temple after a small group of faithful Jews were (miraculously) able to push the Greek army away from the Temple site in Jerusalem. Also spelled Hanukkah.
Chassid (pl. Chassidim):
Adherent of Chassidism.
Movement emphasizing joy, fervent prayer, and attachment to a Rebbe, founded by Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov (“Master of the Good Name”) in the early eighteenth century.
Discussions surrounding the Mishnah and elaborations upon its laws—also known as the Talmud. One was compiled in Israel and a second, later one in Babylon; the second is regarded as more authoritative.
Arabic equivalent of ben, son of—e.g., Rabbi Yehudah ibn Tibbon.
Literally, that which is received. Refers to the mystical tradition of Torah.
Kohen (pl. Kohanim):
Priest of the Jewish People, a descendant of the male line from Aharon, brother of Moshe.
The High Priest.
Fit, or acceptable. In common usage, refers to foods that are acceptable for eating under Torah law. To be Kosher, land animals must both chew their cud and have cloven hooves (pigs are a common example of an animal that has one sign, but not the other), and must be ritually slaughtered with a painless knife cut across the windpipe and esophagus. Fish must have fins and scales, and therefore all shellfish are not Kosher.
Matzah (pl. Matzos):
Unleavened bread, baked extremely fast at high heat, used during the holiday of Pesach. Pesach Matzos may consist of only flour and water, and must be completely baked within eighteen minutes of mixing the two.
Explanations of Torah verses from the Oral Torah. Includes explanations of the stories as well as legal conclusions and references.
The Scroll of Esther. One of the smaller books of the Bible, it tells the story that led to the Purim holiday.
The first written record of the Oral Law, compiled by Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi in approximately 188 C.E.
A Commandment of the Torah.
Moshe. The first Moshe received the Torah from God, and is also called Moshe Rabbeinu, Moshe our Rabbi.
Anointed One. Used especially in reference to the future King of Israel, who will end the exile and rebuild the Holy Temple.
President—Head of the Sanhedrin.
Holiday, during the spring, called Passover in English. During Passover no leavened bread may be eaten or even possessed by a Jewish person, and on the first night the story of the Exodus is told. See also Matzah.
Honorific designation for the president (Nasi) of the Sanhedrin.
Anglicized from Rav. In modern times, also used as honorific designation of a spiritual leader of a congregation of Jews, similar to Pastor, Minister, or Imam for Catholicism, Protestantism, or Islam, respectively.
Acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, the twelfth century (c.e.) codifier and philosopher, also known as Maimonides.
Acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, thirteenth century (c.e.) Halachist, also known as Nachmanides.
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (son of Yitzchak), eleventh-century (c.e.) commentator—the pre-eminent commentator on Torah and Talmud.
Teacher of Torah.
In Mishnaic and Talmudic times, honorific designation of one who received true Rabbinic ordination (semicha) handed down since Moshe. This lapsed at the end of the era of Palestinian scholarship, in roughly the fourth or fifth century C.E.. In modern times, honorific designation of a leader of a Chassidic group.
Beginning of the year—the Jewish New Year, also the Day of Judgment.
Supreme religious court of seventy-one sages. The courtroom was on the Temple Mount until the destruction of the Temple.
Order or structure. The Mishnah is divided into six Sedarim, or Orders. The Pesach Seder is the order of the Passover meal.
As an order of prayer, following the Spanish style. Nusach Sefard is a variant of Nusach Ashkenaz with modifications in accordance with Lurianic Kabbalah, and is used by Chassidim.
As a community, that of Jews from Spain and Northern Africa.
Holiday, during the early summer, on the day God spoke from Mt. Sinai. Also called the Festival of Weeks, because it is always seven weeks and one day after the start of Pesach.
Solomon. The first Shlomo was the son of King David and succeeded him as King, and built the First Temple.
A horn, usually of a ram, blown on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
A small mountain in what is today known as the Sinai Desert, located between ancient Egypt and Israel. The exact location of the mountain is not known.
Sukkah (pl. Sukkos):
A temporary “booth” with a roof composed of unfinished plant products, such as bamboo, tree branches, or thin slats.
Holiday, during the fall, also called the Festival of Booths. During the holiday Jewish men are commanded to eat and reside in a Sukkah.
The Mishnah and the Gemara, the written records of the Oral Law.
The Jewish Bible. The name is the Hebrew acronym of Torah, Nevi'im, and Kesuvim—the Torah, Prophets and Writings.
Tanah (pl. Tannaim):
Scholar of the era when the Mishnah was written.
Torah Shebaal Peh:
The Oral Torah, the Oral Law.
The Written Torah, the Five Books of Moshe—the first five books of the Bible.
Jacob. The first Yaakov was the third of the three generations of patriarchs, and is also called Yaakov Avinu, Our Father Jacob.
The Bad Inclination. A desire inside every person to do the wrong thing, drawing that person away from God and spirituality.
The Good Inclination. The opposite desire to the Yetzer HaRa, this one drawing a person to do the right thing.
Isaac. The first Isaac was the first of the three generations of patriarchs, and is also called Yitzchak Avinu, Our Father Isaac.
The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
The Book of Splendor, written by Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai at the dawn of the Common Era.