Kiddush means sanctification and is a Jewish prayer recited over wine sanctifying the Sabbath or a holiday. The term can also refer to the meal as a whole that accompanies the blessing over the wine.


Sephardic is an adjective used to refer to the Jewish culture which developed in Spain and the Mediterranean, in contradistinction to Ashkenazi Jewry, which has its distinctive roots in Germany and Eastern Europe. The culture and practices of Sephardic Judaism first came to the United States with Sephardic Jews who had settled in Latin America before coming to North America.


A convent is a religious association and residential home of a religious order, particularly an order of women or nuns; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions.


The Reconstructionist movement is a recent development in American Judaism, beginning with Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881 - 1982) who understood Judaism to be a civilization and culture, kept vibrant by constantly changing and adapting to new situations. The central academic institution of Reconstructionism is the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) founded in 1968 in the Philadelphia suburbs.

b’rit milah

B’rit milah is the covenant of circumcision, a ritual in which an eight-day old male baby or a male convert to Judaism is circumcised. It is frequently referred to as a bris.


The huppah is the special canopy under which a Jewish marriage ceremony is conducted. It is symbolic of the Jewish home about to be established.


Purim is the Jewish festival commemorating the legendary rescue of the Jewish people from the threat of extermination in Persia. The festival celebration, with its costumes and revelry, always includes the reading of the book of Esther which tells the tale of the survival of the Jews.


A yeshiva is a traditional Jewish rabbinic academy for the study of Torah and Talmud.


Ashkenazi is an adjective used to refer to the Jewish culture which developed in Germany and Eastern Europe (called Ashkenaz) in contradistinction to Sephardic Judaism, which has its distinctive roots in Spain and the Mediterranean. By extension, it now refers to Jews of Northern and Eastern European background (including Russia) with their distinctive practices and social customs.


A havurah is a Jewish community in which roles, leadership, and responsibility for worship and study are shared among members as opposed to hiring a rabbi, hazzan, or other trained leaders.

tikkun olam

Tikkun olam means to heal or repair the world, interpreted in Judaism as the responsibility to take action to make the world a better place.


Angels are a class of supernatural or spiritual beings, imaginatively understood to perform various functions on God’s behalf. Angels are especially described as divine messengers. Angels are common to Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


Mitzvah means “commandment” and refers to the 613 commandments that Jews are obligated to observe. It can also refer to any Jewish religious obligation, or colloquially, to any good deed.


Synagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but in all cases the synagogue contains the ark in which the Torah scrolls are stored, and from which they are ritually removed for communal reading.


Haftarah is the selection of reading from the Prophets, following the reading from the Torah in the liturgy of the synagogue on Shabbat and holidays.