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  • afikomen

    a piece of matzah from the Passover seder traditionally hidden by adults, found by the children (or vice versa), and then ransomed for gifts after the meal. "The last piece of matzoh...eaten at the meal." (Steinmetz)

  • Ashkenazic

    Adjectival form for 'Ashkenazim', "The name given to the group of Jews who were originally from Germany and France, and their descendants" (JPS)

  • bar mitzvah

    Jewish coming-of-age ceremony/celebration for a 13-year-old boy; the boy who has come of age.

  • bat mitzvah

    in gender egalitarian communities, the ceremony of a 13- (or 12-) year-old girl's first calling up to the Torah, symbolizing her adulthood in Jewish life. can also refer to the girl herself. In Orthodox communities, refers to celebration of girl turning 12. "Celebration of a Jewish girl's coming of age; a girl who has reached that age." (Glinert)

  • bris

    circumcision ceremony; the celebration surrounding it. Lit. covenant.

  • chag sameach

    "Literally, 'Happy Holiday.' The traditional, all-purpose greeting exchanged on almost any Jewish holiday" (JPS).

  • challah

    "The braided egg bread that traditionally is eaten on almost every Jewish holiday and [the Sabbath]" (JPS)

  • charoset

    Sweet, mushy mixture that represents mortar at the Passover seder.

  • chuppah

    "The Jewish wedding canopy; that is, the cloth under which the Jewish wedding ceremony is conducted." (JPS)

  • chutzpah

    guts (positive)

  • Cohen

    "A made descendent of the family of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. Aaron and his descendants were consecrated to the service of God... in the Tabernacle... in the desert and later the Holy Temple" (Steinmetz). Often poorly translated as "priest," though the term "Levite" or "Aaronite" is more accurate, especially due to Christian usage (Steinmetz).

  • goy

    a nation, but not the Jewish nation

  • hanukkah

    The winter-time festival that commemorates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C.E. (lit. "dedication")

  • Hasid

    A disciple of a rabbi, not only a member of a Hasidic group.

  • Kabbalah

    a Jewish mystical work, sometimes used as a catch-all term for Jewish mysticism. "The Jewish mystical tradition" (JPS)

  • klezmer

    "Eastern European style of instrumental music" (JPS)

  • kosher

    "acceptable according to Jewish [ritual] law" (JPS); "trustworthy, reliable" (Rosten); acceptable according to dietary laws

  • l'chaim

    traditional toast. [lit. "to life" (Rosten)]

  • magen david

    "star of david", a symbol that has commonly been associated with Jews and Judaism; [lit. "shield of david"]

  • maven

    "An expert or connoisseur; a specialist" (JPS)