BJ Glossary

Arvit – (also known as Ma’ariv) – from the word “erev,” meaning evening. It is the evening prayer service.

Daven – (Yiddish) to pray

Erev – Evening, as in the eve of a holiday. It signifies the beginning of a (Jewish) holiday. The Jewish day begins in the evening because in Genesis it says, “evening and morning were the first day.”

Frankel Hall – BJ’s social hall, located downstairs from the sanctuary

Gemilut Hasadim – Deeds of loving-kindness, such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and burying the dead

Hakhnasat Orhim – Hospitality shown to guests

Hazzan – Cantor

Kabbalat Shabbat – Receiving of the Sabbath. It is the opening section of the friday night service.

Kabbalat Panim – Welcoming faces. This is a group of BJ members who welcome and introduce visiting groups to our friday evening services.

Kadosh – Designated, differentiated, consecrated, or set aside for a purpose. The term is used in many prayers to denote holiness.

Kavannah – Conscious thought or intention. It refers to the ideal state in which one should perform actions such as prayer.

Kehillah Kedoshah – Sacred community. This term is often used to describe the congregation.

Kippah – (plural: Kippot, also known as yarmulke) A head covering. The BJ tradition requires men to wear kippot during services, at Shabbat meals at the synagogue, and during study. Women are welcome to wear them as well.

Kol Hadash (KH) – Kol Hadash, meaning new voice, is BJ’s bi-monthly magazine. Read the current issue at

Kol Jeshurun (KJ) – “Jeshurun” is a poetic name for Israel. Kol Jeshurun, meaning voice of Israel, is BJ’s weekly newsletter. Read the current issue at

Kol yoshvei tevel – All who dwell on earth. This is a phrase used for all the rest of humanity (other than Israel). At BJ, the phrase is added after “al Kol Yisrael” to denote that we are praying for all of humanity.

Ma’ariv – (also known as Arvit) – from the word “erev,” meaning evening. It is the evening prayer service.

Morning minyan – The daily morning service prayer group. On Monday and Thursday mornings the Torah is read. At least 10 participants are needed in order to pray the complete service, including the public Torah reading and the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Niggun – A tune or melody, it is a song without words.

Oneg – Joy or delight. A gathering after friday night services is called an oneg.

Panim el Panim – face to face. This is the name of BJ’s community organizing and advocacy initiative, which brings the community together in conversation around social justice issues and provides a collective base of ideas and individuals from which we are deepening and expanding BJ’s efforts toward tikkun olam, healing the world.

Parasha – Portion or section. This refers to a Torah portion.

Parashat Hashavu’a – The Torah portion of the week, it is also the name of the weekly class at BJ taught by a rabbinic fellow.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) – Heschel was a scholar of Talmud, mysticism, and ethics who immigrated to the United States just before the Holocaust. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest Jewish theologians and philosophers of the past century. Heschel strove to integrate traditional Judaism into modern American life and was very active in the civil rights movement and protesting the Vietnam War. Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, BJ’s rabbi from 1985-1993, was a student of Rabbi Heschel.

Rosh Hodesh – The first of the month. Rosh Hodesh is the beginning of each month on the Jewish calendar, which coincides with the new moon. It is also traditionally a celebration of women and femininity. At BJ, women gather to study, discuss, and celebrate together at these times.

Siddur – from the word “seder,” or order. The Siddur is the daily prayer book. The High Holy Day prayer book is called a mahzor.

Simha – Happiness, a joyous occasion

SPSA – The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew at 86th Street and West End Avenue. We are involved in a number of interfaith activities with SPSA, and BJ holds Shabbat morning services there during the winter.

Yasher Koah – Straight and strong. This is a phrase often used to recognize someone’s accomplishment and congratulate someone.