Monday, May 25, 2009

Do You Speak Hebrew?

Or maybe these words are Yiddish. Either way I don’t speak the language. Nor, apparently, do I know anything about Judaism. It seems my ignorance knows no bounds. So after reading Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman I was left with a lot terms I didn’t know. Some of them I was familiar with but it took me a moment to realize it. Yarmulke is not spelled the way I expected. Others I’m not sure I have ever heard before even after I figured out how to pronounce them. So I looked them up.

Shul - a synagogue

Pentateuch - the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

Kashruth 1.the body of dietary laws prescribed for Jews
2. fitness for use with respect to Jewish law

Haggadah - a book containing the liturgy for the Seder service on the Jewish festival of Passover

Phylactery - either of two small, black, leather cubes containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses 4–9 of Deut. 6, 13–21 of Deut. 11, and 1–16 of Ex. 13: one is attached with straps to the left arm and the other to the forehead during weekday morning prayers by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men

Smicha - Rabbinical ordination

Hadassah - a benevolent organization of Jewish women founded in New York City in 1912 by Henrietta Szold and concerned chiefly with bettering medical and educational facilities in Israel, forwarding Zionist activities in the U.S., and promoting world peace

Yicchus - a person’s background pertaining to their ancestors, status

Rebbitzin - the wife of a rabbi

Pilpul - a method of disputation among rabbinical scholars regarding the interpretation of Talmudic rules and principles or Scripture that involves the development of careful and often excessively subtle distinctions

Havdalah - a religious ceremony, observed by Jews at the conclusion of the Sabbath or a festival, that consists of blessings over wine, spices, and the light of a candle

Pogrom - an organized massacre, esp. of Jews

Brith - the Jewish rite of circumcising a male child eight days after his birth

Cantor - the religious official of a synagogue who conducts the liturgical portion of a service and sings or chants the prayers and parts of prayers designed to be performed as solos

Minyan - the number of persons required by Jewish law to be present to conduct a communal religious service, traditionally a minimum of 10 Jewish males over 13 years of age

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