Judaism For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Learning and using these common Jewish words and phrases will help you through situations like meals and toasts, wishing people well, greetings, and casual conversation.

  • Chutzpah. Brazen arrogance, guts, presumption, or gall. Usually a positive trait.

  • Kippah. That little hat that Jewish men (and sometimes women) wear on their heads. Also called a yarmulke.

  • Kosher. Correct, proper, or okay. Usually refers to food that conforms to the kashrut laws. Opposite is trayf.

  • L’chayim. Literally “To life!” Said like “Cheers!” when drinking a toast.

  • Mazel Tov. Good luck! Usually said at the end of a wedding or when responding to good news.

  • Shalom. Hello, goodbye, or peace.

  • Tikkun olam. The healing of the world; a central theme in Jewish teachings. Can refer to world peace, social justice, or the mystical repair of the universe.

  • Torah. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, hand-written on a scroll of parchment. Also refers to the Jewish Way, including laws and customs from written and oral law.

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Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD, one of the pioneers of contemporary Jewish and interfaith spirituality, is a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor in private practice. David Blatner is an award-winning author of 15 books, including Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe From Infinitesimal to Infinity.

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