Hebrew Glossary

Adapted from A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life by Theodore and Dale Rosengarten

bar mitzvah - Coming-of-age ceremony marking a Jewish boy's acceptance, at age thirteen, of responsibility for carrying out the commandments of the Torah.

bat mitzvah - Coming-of-age ceremony marking a Jewish girl's acceptance, at age twelve, of responsibility for carrying out the commandments of the Torah.

Beth Shalom - Hebrew for "House of Peace." Congregation founded in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1906.

B'nai B'rith - Hebrew for "Sons of the Covenant." Oldest and largest Jewish serve and fraternal organization in America, founded in New York in 1843.

hazzan, or chazan, plural hazzanim - Person who leads the congregation in prayer.

Holocaust - Since the 1950s the term has been applied primarily to the Nazi regime's attempted annihilation of the Jews of Europe. Six million Jews—two out of every three living at the time in Europe—were murdered as part of a systematic genocide. Millions of other people were also killed because of their ethnicity, culture, polical ideas, sexual orientation, or physical or mental handicaps. See Shoah

kosher - Ritually fit for use; especially food that conforms to Jewish dietary laws.

Orthodox Judaism - Beliefs and practices of Jews for whom the strict observance of Jewish law is inseparable from faith. The term came into use in the nineteenth century to describe Jews opposed to Reform.

rabbi - Spiritual head of a Jewish community; a Jewish teacher or leader

Reform Judaism - Movement that arose in the nineteenth century in both Europe and the United States to modernize Judaism through changes in rituals and practices.

Shearith Israel - Hebrew for "Remnant of Israel." Congregation founded in Columbia, South Carolina in 1846.

Shoah - Term widely used in Israel and increasingly used in the United States to denote the murder of the Jews by the Nazis. See Holocaust.

shohet, plural shohatim - Ritual slaughterer trained in the Jewish manner of killing food animals as quickly and painlessly as possible.

shul - Synagogue.

synagogue - Jewish house of worship, from a Greek word meaning "place where people come together."

Torah - The five books of Moses, also called the Pentateuch, containing the foundation of Jewish law and practice.

Tree of Life - "Etz Chayim" in Hebrew. Congregation organized in Columbia, South Carolina in 1896.