Yiddish and Hebrew Words in Marge Piercy's "He,
Aliyah - a pilgrimage to Israel.
Alter kocker - (vulgar) old fart.
Altneushul - the old synagogue of Prague,
which still stands.
Ari - (diminutive of aryeh) lion.
Aveinu - our father.
Balebusteh - highly favorable term for
a woman who can manage everything involved in running a house.
Bubeh - grandmother.
Bubeh Meise - old wives' tale.
Challeh - braided egg bread eaten on most
Jewish holidays, such as Shabbat.
Chassen - groom.
Chava - Eve.
Cheder - school.
Daven - pray.
Dybbuk - a devil, particularly one that
possesses a person.
Eretz Israel - the land of Israel.
Gematria - a system of numerology that
assigns a value to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Hagaddah - the book of prayers, readings,
and songs used for Pesach.
Halacha - Jewish law.
Ha-Shem - Literally, "the name"; a way
of referring to God without mentioning one of the holy names usually reserved
Kaballah - Jewish mysticism.
Kaddish - The prayer for the dead.
Khevra Kaddisah - the burial society.
Kibitz - provide uninvited but good-natured
Kol Nidre - the beginning of the Yom Kippur
service, where you are absolved of all oaths between yourself and God (but
not oaths to other people). It is the holiest part of the holiest holiday.
Kvetchy - whiny.
Maidel - maiden, unmarried woman.
Magen David - the Star or Shield of David.
Malka - queen.
Matzoh - unleavened bread, which is eaten
Minyan - traditionally a group of ten Jewish
men required for certain prayers, including Kaddish.
Conservative and Reform Jews count women;
Orthodox Jews do not.
Mishnah - part of the Talmud, the collected
commentary of Rabbis over the ages on the Bible.
Mitzvah - (pl. mitzvoht) good deed, commandment.
Pesach - Passover, the holiday commemorating
the exodus from Egypt.
Rebitzin - the wife of a Rabbi.
Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year.
Schmateh - rag.
Schmuck - (vulgar) penis, jerk.
Seder - the Passover dinner, at which the
Hagaddah is read.
Shabbat - Sabbath.
Shadchen - Matchmaker.
Shalom - peace, hello, goodbye.
Shamash - a sort of sophisticated custodian
who takes care of a synagogue.
Shekinah - the female aspect of G-d.
Shema Yisrael - a prayer that one tries
to say before dying.
Shira - song.
Shiva - the period of mourning, in which
friends and members of the community visit.
Shofar - a ram's horn blown on certain
Shul - synagogue.
Siddur - prayer book.
Simchat Torah - a holiday in which the
Torah is honored.
Tikkun Olam - healing the world.
Tikva - hope.
Traif - unkosher.
Yahrtzeit - memorial.
Yerushalaim - Jerusalem.
Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement, the
holiest day of the year. One fasts and prays on Yom Kippur, at the end
of which God seals the Book of Life in which it is inscribed what will
happen in the next year.
Zayde - grandfather.
Zoftik - a description of someone who isn't
obese but has ``something to grab on to'', such as large thighs.
Ellen Spertus and Sylvia Spertus, with help from Eldad Ganin