The Kabbalah is the Jewish mystical tradition.

secular Judaism

Especially in the Jewish tradition, there are those who describe themselves as secular Jews, meaning identified with the Jewish community and heritage, but not religiously observant.


Jeremiah was a Hebrew prophet of the 7th century BCE who foresaw the downfall of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 BCE.


Rashi is the acronym of the most distinguished commentator on the Bible and the Babylonian Talmud, the French scholar Rabbi Schlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105).

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the “Day of Atonement,” the holiest day of the Jewish year, a day of fasting and atonement. Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur are called the High Holy Days, ordinarily falling in early autumn.

beit Midrash

A beit midrash is a Jewish house of study and discussion; in ancient times it was a school of higher learning.

High Holy Days

The Jewish High Holidays are Rosh Hashanah (New Year, literally "head of the year"), and Yom Kippur (literally "day of atonement"). Both fall in the lunar month of Tishri, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and following ten days later with Yom Kippur. These days are called the “Days of Awe” because the entire period constitutes a season of judgment and repentance, forgiveness and spiritual renewal, standing in awe before God.


Passover, or Pesah in Hebrew, is a major Jewish holiday, also called “the festival of unleavened bread.” During the eight days of the festival, Jews commemorate God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, eating only unleavened bread or matzah, as did those who fled from Egypt. At the special ritual meal called the seder, the traditional narrative of Passover, as contained in the Passover Haggadah, is told.


Literally “righteousness” or “justice,” tzedakah is the biblical mitzvah, or commandment, to give to the needy. Traditionally this is interpreted by Jews as 10 percent of one’s wealth.


Aramaic is the language of the Talmud, and core parts of the liturgy used by Jews to this day. A famous teaching expressing the uniqueness of Aramaic says that even the angels do not understand Aramaic, and so when Jews pray in Aramaic, the prayer goes directly to God.

Haskalah Movement

A Jewish Enlightenment movement of the 19th century that led to the evolution of modern Hebrew into new literary and spoken forms, leading to the energetic revival of Hebrew as the spoken language of the new state of Israel in the 20th century. The Haskalah Movement led to the emergence of Jewish Biblical Criticism, and is credited, in some ways, with paving the intellectual ground for the modern denominations.

niggunim (pl.)

The central musical manifestation of Hasidic life. Often, niggunim are sung using syllables such as “Ah,” “Oy,” “Hey,” “Bam,” instead of words.


Tefillin are the small black leather boxes containing verses of the Torah that Orthodox Jews bind to the forehead and non-dominant arm during morning prayer, thus fulfilling the Biblical commandment to love God with heart, soul, and might and to bind these commandments “as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6.8).

On the eve of Rosh Hashana, fewer are paying for High Holy Day seats

September 27, 2019
Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis is expecting some 3,000 people for Rosh Hashana services next week, and the 137-year-old congregation, which prides itself on inclusion, wants to be welcoming. The building is fully accessible to people with disabilities. It has a wheelchair ramp leading up to the bimah, or sanctuary stage, and Bluetooth headsets for the hearing impaired. This year, it’s also taking another step toward inclusion. For the first time anyone can remember, nonmembers will not be required to buy tickets for High Holy Day services. Source: ... Read more about On the eve of Rosh Hashana, fewer are paying for High Holy Day seats

For synagogues, High Holidays welcome is complicated by security needs

September 27, 2019
On a Friday night not long after 11 people were killed by a gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, Edmund Case was standing in the entryway of Temple Shalom in Newton, Massachusetts, having volunteered to act as an usher for that night’s services. A man Case didn’t know, and whose look struck Case as “off,” entered the building and asked, “Could I look around?” Internally, Case felt a zing of alarm. “Why would someone come on a Friday night and want to look around?” he thought. The man turned out to be new to town and looking for a synagogue to join. For Case, the... Read more about For synagogues, High Holidays welcome is complicated by security needs