Jewish Vocabulary: Helpful Words and Phrases - dummies

Jewish Vocabulary: Helpful Words and Phrases

By Rabbi Ted Falcon, David Blatner

Part of Judaism For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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.