The ark, or Aron ha-Kodesh (the Holy Ark) in Hebrew, is the holy chest or cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept in a synagogue on the wall facing Jerusalem.


Hallel means “praise” and refers to the joyful recitation of psalms of praise and thanksgiving during Jewish festival services, especially Psalms 113-118.


The Mishnah, meaning “teaching” is the written compilation of the oral Torah, also believed to have been revealed at Sinai. It includes laws and observances having to do with agriculture, holy seasons, women, family, civil law, temple rituals, and laws of purity. The Mishnah was compiled in the 2nd century CE by Rabbi Judah HaNasi (literally “Judah the Prince”) and became the basis of the monumental code of law, the Talmud.


Sukkot is a Jewish harvest festival, also known as the festival of “booths.” The booth or sukkah is a temporary dwelling in which the faithful take their meals during the festival. The booths recall the temporary shelters in which the people of Israel lived, sustained by the mercy of God, during their years in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.


Adam is Hebrew for “human, man.” It is the name given to the first person created by God and as such has an important symbolic role in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.


Matzah is the unleavened bread that must be eaten during the eight days of Passover, recalling the bread made in haste as the people of Israel fled from slavery in Egypt.

Simhat Torah

Simhat Torah, “rejoicing in the law,” is the holiday celebrating the Torah, as the Jewish year’s cycle of readings ends and the community begins the Torah reading once again. A part of Sukkot, and hence, the High Holiday cycle, it is widely observed by dancing with the Torah scrolls and making circuits of the synagogue carrying the scrolls and rejoicing.


A ghetto is a part of a city or town where Jews lived, segregated from others. The name comes from the foundry area in Venice where Jews were forced to live in 1526 and came to be used for all such areas of segregation, often forcible segregation.


A kippah is a headcovering, a skull cap, worn by Jewish men for worship, religious study, meals, or at all times.


(also: shabbes; shabbas) Shabbat or sabbath is the day of rest, the seventh day, recalling the Biblical creation narrative in which God rested from the labors of creation on the seventh day. In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and runs through sundown on Saturday. For observant Jews it is a day of family and communal worship, study, and rest from labor, following the commandment found in Exodus (Shmot) 20:8-10. “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work.” Christians... Read more about Shabbat


Elijah was a 9th century BCE Hebrew prophet and visionary. According to tradition, he did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2). Elijah’s periodic return to eart. has become part of the rabbinical and mystical Jewish tradition. In the b’rit milah (circumcision) a special chair is designated for Elijah, and at the Passover seder a cup of wine is poured and the door left ajar for him.


Joshua was the leader Moses appointed to succeed him after his death, laying his hands upon Joshua and committing to him the leadership of the people of Israel. According to biblical history, Joshua led the Israelites, who had been tested for forty years in the desert, across the River Jordan and into the promised land of Israel.

Reform Judaism

Reform Judaism is one of the major modern Jewish movements, originating in 19th century Europe and coming to flower in the United States. It emphasizes the legitimacy of change, the commanding importance of ethical monotheism, and the liberal Jewish commitment to ethical teachings above ritual observances. The central academic institution of American Reform Judaism is the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and it is institutionally represented by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.


A covenant (or brit) is a mutual promise or compact between two parties. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, covenant is of deep significance in describing the mutual relationship of God and the people of faith. The major covenants in Jewish scriptures are God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15) and the Sinai/Moses covenant (Exodus 19-24) between God and Israel. For Jews, the covenant is an eternal bond between God and the people of Israel grounded in God’s gracious and steadfast concern, and calling for obedience to the divine commandments (mitzvot) and instruction (... Read more about covenant


Isaiah was an 8th century BCE Hebrew prophet whose spiritual vision is recorded in the biblical book of Isaiah, although part of the book (usually said to be ch. 40-55) is commonly held to have been written by a second author of the 6th century BCE, referred to as Deutero-Isaiah.