Glossary of Terms

Halakhah

The laws and norms that have evolved over millennia to regulate religious observances and the daily conduct of Jewish people and communities. (Literally, “the way.” Adjective: Halakhic.)

Matrilineal Jew

One whose Jewish status is derived from the fact that their biological mother is Jewish, irrespective of whether their father is Jewish. This is the halakhic position to which BJ remains committed.

Patrilineal Jew

One who claims Jewish status based on the fact that their biological father, and not their mother, is Jewish.

Klal Yisrael

A term for the Jewish people that connotes unity and fellowship.

Siddur

Prayer book

Kippah

Yarmulke or head covering

Tallit

Prayer shawl

Tefillin

Phylacteries

Aliyah

Approaching and blessing the Torah while it is chanted during services. (Literally, “an ascension or going up.”)

Brit Milah

Ritual circumcision

Hatafat Dam Brit

A symbolic drawing a drop of blood from the penis for those converting to Judaism who have already been circumcised.

Mohalim/Mohalot

Those trained to perform a ritual circumcision.

Tahara

The ritual preparation of a dead body for burial.