Abraham -- An ancient Semite called out of ancient Babylon to serve the One God, and become the father of the nation of Israel.

Abrahamic Covenant -- The contract (or "promise") God made with Abraham as recorded in the book of Genesis, in which He promised to make him a great nation and gave him the Land of Israel. See article.

Aggadah -- The narrative material in the Talmud.

Anno Mundi -- Latin for "In the Year of the World." The Jewish year is given in terms of "Anno Mundi," meaning the count is meant to reflect the number of years since the Creation of the World.

Anti-Semitism -- Attitudes and actions directed against the Jewish people that show hostility or prejudice.

Aravah -- Willow, one of the Four Species used in the ceremonial celebration of Sukkoth. see article on Sukkot.

Ashkenazi -- Jewish person of Eastern European descent. See also Sephardi.

Atonement -- Reconciliation with God through the expiation of sin. Hebrew Kapparah. See also Yom Kippur.


Beit ha-Mikdash or Beis ha-Mikdah-- A Hebrew term for the Jerusalem Temple.

Blackstone Memorial -- A petition resulting from a congress called by William E. Blackstone, and presented to President Benjamin Harrison on March 5, 1891, concerning Jewish persecutions in Russia. Blackstone proposed an international conference with the goal of restoring the land of Palestine to the covenant people Israel "and to promote in all other just and proper ways the alleviation of their suffering condition." The petition has come to be known as the Blackstone Memorial. Click Here to view text Bible Codes Alleged messages hidden in consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible. see article

Blackstone, William E. -- 19th century Christian teacher who championed the Zionist cause (he was a Zionist before Herzl!) and founded the organization which became known as American Messianic Fellowship and then AMF International.

Book of Life -- Divine ledger in which the names of those who will be granted in life are recorded. See Article on Rosh Hashana.

Born Again -- From the term used by Yeshua in the third chapter of the New Testament book of John (John 3:3), meaning to receive salvation by trusting in Yeshua, hence becoming a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Brit ha-Hadashah -- Hebrew for "the New Covenant" a phrase used by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31). See New Testament.


Challah -- See hallah.

Christ -- From "Christos," the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term "Messiah." Both words literally mean "Anointed One" This was the word used in the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures as prepared by Jewish translators three centuries before the time of Jesus. When early Christians believed they had found their Messiah, they naturally referred to him as "the Christ." When Christians say "Jesus Christ" they are actually saying "Jesus the Messiah." Christian -- according to the New Testament, this term was first used at Antioch to describe the Jewish faction that believed they had found the "Christ" (i.e., Messiah) in Yeshua. Today it means anyone who trusts in "the Christ" (i.e., Yeshua/Jesus) as his Savior.

Christian Zionism -- Activism on the part of Christians toward the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people. (William E. Blackstone, founder of AMF International, is acknowledged by the Encyclopedia Judaica as foremost among the early Christian Zionists.)

Church -- 1) an assembly of Christian believers. 2) All Christian believers everywhere.

Crusades -- Campaigns on the part of the "Christian" nations of Europe to liberate Palestine from the hands of the Muslims, 1096-1271. The fervor against the "infidel" Muslims easily spread to Anti-Jewish sentiments. Jewish money was confiscated to help defray the expenses of the Crusades. Jewish communities had to buy "protection" from their "Christian" overlords.


Diaspora -- (Lit. the scattering of seed) the "scattering" of the Jewish people across the earth.

Dispensationalism -- A theological view of Time as held by many evangelicals, which divides the history of Mankind into periods called dispensations, according the ways God related into Man in each period. Dreidl, or Dreidel -- a four-sided top with which games are played at Hanukkah. Click here for more on the dreidl.


Elijah's Cup-- A cup with wine which is poured but not drunk during the Passover Seder, between the third and fourth cups.

Eretz Israel -- Hebrew for "the Land of Israel" -- the Promised Land as given to Israel by God.

Esther -- Jewish girl who became the Queen of Persia and thus had opportunity to overturn a wicked plot to destroy the Jewish people. Also, the book of the Bible by the same name, which describes these events and the establish of the holiday of Purim.

Etrog-- The citron, one of the Four Species used in the ceremonial celebration of Sukkot. See article on Sukkot.

Evangelical -- The word "evangelical" comes from the word "euangelion," which means "Good News," or "Gospel.". Briefly stated, an evangelical is a Christian who believes, lives and wants to share the gospel message.


falafel -- A Middle-Eastern snack made of balls of chick pea mush, which are then deep fried and typically served in a pita with a variety of toppings. Falafel is widely available in Israel and has often been called the "national snack."

Four Species-- Arba'ah minim Four plants used in the ceremonial celebration of Sukkoth, including the lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle) and aravah (willow). Based on Biblical requirement regarding the "Fruit of goodly trees" in Leviticus 23:40.see article on Sukkoth.


Gemara -- (Lit. "Completion") A compilation of rabbinical commentaries on the Mishnah. Written down by A.D. 500. See Also Talmud.

Ghetto-- A portion of a city in which Jews were required to live separately from the general populace.

Gospel -- (Literally "good news," a literal translation of the Greek word "euangelion.") The story of Yeshua who "died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and . . . was buried and . . . rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (I Corinthians 15:3,4)

Goy, Goyim -- Gentile(s), non-Jews. The plural form "goyim" is used in the Hebrew Bible of "nations" in general. Later came to mean all other nations (besides Israel), and thence to individuals outside the fold of Israel.

Grogger -- Traditional noisemaker used at Purim to drown out the name of Haman.



Haddas Myrtle -- One of the Four Species used in the ceremonial celebration of Sukkoth. see article on Sukkot.

Halakhah -- (lit. "walk") A general term for the proscriptive material in the Talmud. (ie., the parts that tell you what to do as opposed to the story parts). See also Aggadah.

Hallah -- A special sweet, braided braid served in pairs of loaves and traditional for the Sabbath. Haman -- the villain in the story of Esther, who plotted the extermination of the Jewish people.

Hamantashen -- A traditional three-cornered pastry associated with Purim. Sometimes called "Haman's Hats." In Israel, they are called "Ozney Haman," or "Haman's Ears!"

Hamas -- Terrorist group founded in 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Principal political rival Arafat's Fatah (PLO) organization. Has tens of thousands of Palestinian supporters and sympathizers, but number of hard-core terrorists is unknown.

Hanukkah -- An eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Jewish Temple. See article

Har ha-Bayit -- Hebrew for Hill of the House, i.e, the Temple Mount.

Haroset -- One of the dishes featured in the Passover Seder, typically made wiith apples and nuts, sometimes said to represent the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. 

HaShem -- "The Name"; Hebrew alternative for the divine name.

Hasidism -- Mystical movement in Judaism originating in the Middle Ages.

Hebrew -- 1) The ancient language of the Jewish people, and the modern language of the State of Israel. 2) An Israelite

Hebrews -- A book of the Brit ha-Hadashah, addressed to Jewish believers in Yeshua.

Hezbollah -- An umbrella organization of various radical Shiite groups, formed following the 1982 Peace for Galilee War conducted under Ariel Sharon to force the PLO, a terrorist organization, from Lebanon. The war succeeded only in part. On Israel's departure from Lebanon (under foreign pressure), they maintained, at the request of the south Lebanese, a buffer zone south of the Litani River in Lebanon to protect the panhandle of Israel and the civilian population living there. That buffer zone is still patrolled by the Israeli army and the South Lebanese forces, loyal to Israel. Roadside bombs and other attacks are conducted against the Israeli and South Lebanese forces in this zone.

Holocaust -- (From the Greek term for a burnt offering). The systematic Nazi destruction of European Jewry which began in 1933 when Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. This tragic event reduced the world's Jewish population by over one third.


Inquisition -- A tribunal once set up by the Roman Catholic Church, intended to weed out heresy from the realms of Christendom. Many Jews lost their homes and livelihoods in this age of intolerance, as did many gentiles who did not confess to the official doctrines of the established Church..

Isaiah 53 -- A chapter of the Hebrew Bible which many think refers to the Messiah in general and many to Yeshua in particular. Click here to view it on-line in Hebrew and English.


Jerusalem -- Hebrew Yerushalayim. The capital of Israel since it was taken from the Jebusites by King David (2 Samuel 5:6-10)

Jesus -- The name of a first century Jew of the Second Temple Period known more fully as Yeshua benYosef ha-Notzri, the adopted son of a carpenter from Nazareth, hailed by his followers as the promised Jewish Messiah and Savior of the World. (NOTE: The name Yeshua, when converted to Greek, which was the lingua franca of the times, comes out IESOUS (Yay-soos). In Latin spelling that would be Iesus or Jesus (still pronounced (Yay-soos). The Latin spelling has been retained in most Western European languages using the Latin alphabet, although pronunciation varies according to idiosyncrasies of each language, especially with regard to the phonetic value of the letter "J" -- "dzh" in English, "zh" in French, "h" in Spanish and "y" in German! (See article Who is Yeshua/Jesus, also New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

Jew -- From Greek Ioudaios, someone from Judea or "Judah." Later used of anyone descended from Israel. In modern usage, according to halakhah, one is a Jew if one has Jewish parents (at least a Jewish mother), or has undergone conversion in accordance with Jewish law.

Josephus, Flavius -- First century Jewish historian. One of the principal extra-biblical historical sources of information on the Second Temple / New Testament period. See article Josephus.

Judah -- Hebrew Yehudah. 1) One of the 12 patriarchs (sons of Israel). 2) The tribe descended from him 3) That tribe's allotment in the promised land.4) After the political division of the country following Solomon's reign, the Southern Kingdom, consisting of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah.

Judaism -- The religious system of the Jewish people, centered on the belief in One God and his Covenant with the Jewish people as described in the Torah.. See also Tanakh, Talmud


Kehilah -- Community or Congregation. Synagogues and Messianic churches are often called kehilot (plural of kehilah).

Kibbutz -- A (usually) rural community in Israel based on communal property, in which members have no private property but share the work and the profits of some collective enterprise, typically agricultural but sometimes also industrial.

Kippah -- Hebrew name for the yarmulke, or skull cap worn by observant Jewish males.

 Kitel -- Special white garment worn on special occasions such as Pesach or Yom Kippur, reminiscent of the garment the priest would have worn in Temple times

Kol Nidre -- Hebrew prayer meaning "all vows" which ushers in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.


Latkes -- Potato pancakes traditional at Hanukkah, often served with applesauce or sour cream.

Lord's Day -- The first day of the week (Sunday), as the day the Lord Yeshua was raised from the Dead. Celebrated as a day of worship by most Christians since early times.

Lulav--The palm branch, one of the Four Species used in the ceremonial celebration of Sukkot. see article on Sukkot.


Magen David -- Literally "shield of David," the Hebrew name for the familiar six-pointed star which has become a universal sign of Judaism. Featured on the modern Israeli flag.

Matzah, matzoh -- Flat, unleavened bread used during the Passover. One of the elements of the Seder.

May Laws -- Legislation enacted in Russia, May 1882, prohibiting the Jewish people from living in or acquiring property except in predetermined locales. Repealed in effect in 1915, and legally in 1917 after the Russian revolution. The May Laws caused local expulsions and intolerable overcrowding and economic hardship, leading to massive Jewish emigration.

Meshumad -- Literally "one deserving of extinction." A traitor to Judaism, a heretic.

Messiah -- The long-awaited deliverer of the Jewish people, as foretold by the Hebrew prophets. Jewish people who believe Yeshua to be the Messiah sometimes use this term to describe their particular kind of faith. It is the etymological equivalent of the word Christian, which is derived from Christos the word used by ancient Greek-speaking Jews for messiah.

Messianic Age -- A time of peace and prosperity as foretold by the Hebrew prophets. Traditional thinking is that Messiah will bring this about. Reform Judaism hold this to be an ideal to be reached through human endeavor, and does not expect a personal Messiah at all. We who believe in him believe that Yeshua ha-Mashiach will usher in the Messianic Age when he returns (see Millennium).

Mezuzah -- A small, elongated decorative box, usually of metal or ceramic attached to the doorframe of a Jewish home. Inside the mezuzah is a tiny handwritten scroll on which are written Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. Both of these passages mention writing the precepts of God on the doorposts. The mezuzah is a way of fulfilling this literally. (See also tefillin).

Millennium -- Literally a period of a thousand years. Also used as common shorthand for "Millennial Reign, " the thousand-year reign of the Messiah, a time of universal peace and prosperity on the earth. (Rev. 20, Isaiah 11, etc.)

Mishnah -- Lit. "Repetition". A compilation of the rabbinical oral laws or traditions. These oral laws were written down by 200 AD. See also Gemara, Talmud


Neilah-- The closing service of Yom Kippur, which ends with a blast of the shofar and the exclamation "Next Year in Jerusalem!"

New Covenant -- The prophet Jeremiah predicted a time when God would make a "New Covenant" with Israel, unlike the first Covenant made at Sinai. See article on Rosh Hashana. New Testament -- a collection of documents composed within the first two or three generations after Yeshua, comprised of the four Gospels (biographies of Yeshua), a history of the early church, several letters from the apostles addressed to various churches and addressing assorted issues of concern, and the book of John's vision of things to come. We believe this new way is the "New Covenant" spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet. (Jeremiah 31:31)

Nicea, Council of -- A council of the early church which convened at Nicea in the year 365, in which (among many other decisions) Christians were prohibited from celebrating the Passover with the Jewish people. (We at Life in Messiah do not consider this particular decision valid!)


Oral Law -- Other instruction beyond the written Torah, which is nevertheless considered by some Jewish people as the Word of God.


PA -- The Palestinian Authority

Palestine -- A name given to Eretz Israel after the conquest of Judea in 70 AD. It is derived from the word "Philistines," a people who had occupied the coastal areas of the land in ancient times, but who had long since passed from history.

Passover -- The celebration on the 15th of Nisan of the liberation of the Jewish people from their bondage in Egypt as described in the book of Exodus. For a discussion of Passover customs as seen from a Messianic perspective, see Messiah in the Passover.

Pesach -- Hebrew for "Passover."

Phylacteries -- See Tefillin.

Pilgrim Festivals -- The three feasts of Israel which required a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by all who were able. These are Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Pogroms -- Organized massacres of Jewish communities carried out in 19th century Russia.

Premillennialism -- The view within Christianity that the Rapture of the Church will occur before the Millennium.

Purim -- The Jewish holiday observed each year on the 14th of Adar, celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish people from the wicked Haman in the days of Queen Esther of Persia, as described in the book of Esther. (Esther 9:18-28) See article.


Qohelet -- A book of wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible, known in English as Ecclesiastes.

Quiet Time -- A term used among evangelicals to denote a time set aside for personal meditation and communion with God.


Rapture -- The supernatural "catching up" of all believers into the air to meet Yeshua/Jesus, as alluded to in First and Second Thessalonians, especially 1 Thess. 4:17. See Rosh Hashana article.

Reform Judaism -- One of the three major branches of Judaism, and the most liberal.

Romans 11 -- A Chapter of the New Testament written by the apostle Paul, in which he upholds the continuing importance of the Jewish people in God's plan for the universe.

Rosh Hashana -- Jewish New Year, celebrated on the First of Tishri (September/October), the same as what the Bible calls "the Feast of Trumpets" (Lev. 23:23-25, Num. 29:1-6). See article.


Sabbath -- The seventh day of the week, holy to the Jewish people by the commandment of God. (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

Savior -- Another title for the Messiah as the one who saves men's souls.

Seder -- Hebrew for "order" A ceremonial meal eaten at Passover.

Sephardic -- (From the ancient Biblical name "Sepharad", which came to be associated with Spain.) Pertaining to Jews whose ancestors came from Spain and Portugal before the expulsion of the Jews from those lands in 1492/7.

Shabbat -- Hebrew for "Sabbath."

Shabbes / Shabbos -- Yiddish for "Sabbath"

Shalom -- Hebrew. Peace, Hello, and Goodbye.

Shavuot -- One of the three Pilgrim Festivals required in the Torah. Also known as The Feast of Weeks and Pentecost, celebrated seven weeks after Passover.

Shoah -- The Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

Shofar -- A ram's horn. The rams horn makes a very impressive noise, and has been used since ancient times to summon troops to battle or the people to assemble. Also used to mark approach of Sabbath and other Holy Days. Especially associated with Rosh Hashana.

Shul -- Yiddish for "synagogue"

Sufganiyot -- Israeli jelly doughnuts eaten at Hanukkah.

Sukkah-- A "booth" or shelter made for the holiday of Sukkoth.

Sukkot -- Lit. "booths." One of the three Pilgrim Festivals marked by the building of makeshift shelters called "sukkot" to commemorate the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.

Svivon-- The Hebrew name for dreidl.

Synagogue -- A meeting place of the Jewish people, from a Greek word meaning "lead together".


Tabernacle -- From Latin tabernaculum, "tent." The word used in many English translations of the Torah for the Tent of Meeting,the portable forerunner of the Temple which God commanded Moses to build when the Israelites were wandering in the Wilderness. This word is also used for sukkah, a temporary structure built yearly for the holiday of Sukkoth, which is therefore also called The Feast of Tabernacles.

Tallt, or "Talis"-- The prayer shawl worn by Jewish males during prayer and in synagogue.

Talmud -- The Mishnah and Gemara taken together.

Tanakh -- The Jewish Scriptures, which are exactly the same canon as the Protestant "Old Testament". The Hebrew term is an acronym derived from the Hebrew words Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim; i.e., The Law, The Prophets and the Writings (poetry and wisdom literature) (Compare the New Testament term, "the Law and the Prophets" to stand for the Scriptures as a whole)

Tashlikh -- A Rosh Hashana service in which observant Jews go to a body of water such as a stream or an ocean, and toss the contents of their pockets into it while reciting passages such as Micah 7:19, ("And thou wilt cast (Tashlikh) all their sins into the depths of the sea.") as a symbol of sin being swallowed up in forgiveness. See Rosh Hashana article.

Tefillin -- Small boxes containing verses of Scripture which religious Jewish males bind to the wrist and forehead by means of leather straps, in obedience to Ex. 13:9, 16 and Deut. 6:8, 11:18

Temple -- The holy place of worship in Jerusalem which replaced Moses Wilderness Tabernacle on land purchased for it by King David, and originally built by Solomon. In Reform Judaism, this word can also mean synagogue.

Temple Mount -- The artificially expanded hill in Jerusalem on which the First and second temples stood, now occupied by the Muslim Dome of the Rock.

Tish'a b'Av -- Or the "Ninth of Av". A Jewish holy day commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon. (Zech. 7:5, 8:19) According to tradition, it was on this same date in 70 AD that the Romans under Titus destroyed the Second Temple. Many other national disasters have been associated with this date, including the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust, and so Tish'a b'Av has come to stand for national calamity in general. See article.

Torah -- The Pentateuch. The first five books of the Bible. Literally "teaching" or "instruction" or "guidance." Often translated "the Law" in English Bibles, as in "the Law of the LORD is perfect" (Psalm 19:7 [verse 8 in Hebrew]) Torah Codes Alleged messages hidden in Hebrew text of the Torah. see article

Tu Bi-Shevat -- A minor Jewish holiday marking the blossoming of the first trees and the beginning of Spring. Also known as Hag ha-Ilanot, or "New Year of the Trees" More.

Tzimmes - One of the elements of the Passover Seder. See sample Recipe.

Tzitzit -- The fringe on a tallit, based on the Torah passages of Num. 15:37-41 and Deut. 22:12.




Wailing Wall -- See Western Wall

Western Wall -- A portion of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, regarded by the Jewish people as a holy place owing to its proximity to the site of the Holy of Holies on the platform above it.


Xenophobia -- The irrational fear of strangers or of persons different from oneself. One of the roots of Anti-Semitism.


Yarmulke -- A Yiddish word for the skull-cap worn by observant Jewish males. See also kippah.

Yeshiva -- An academy for study of the Talmud.

Yeshua -- From the Hebrew word for "salvation." Jesus' original Hebrew name. See Article.

Yeshua ha-Mashiach -- Hebrew for "Yeshua the Messiah"

Yiddish -- A Germanic dialect written with Hebrew characters and the language of the shtetl and other Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Yiddishkeit -- Roughly translated, "Jewish-hood," i.e., everything that goes into being Jewish, from music to food to berakhot.

Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- Israeli Independence Day.

Yom Kippur -- The Day of Atonement. The holiest and most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. In temple times, this was the day the High Priest would approach the throne of God in the Holy of Holies to seek atonement for the sins of the people. Marked by fasting and abstinence from marital relations and use of cosmetics and toiletries. See Article


Zion -- Originally another name for Mt. Moriah, the hill just north of David's Jerusalem which he purchased from Araunah the Jebusite as the site for the first Temple as built by Solomon. By extension, the name is used of Jerusalem, and by further extension, the Land of Israel.

Zionism -- The movement to restore the Jewish people to a sovereign homeland of their own.