bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah planning guide
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Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah and Jewish Wedding Planning and Resource Guide

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Important Terms

Important Terms
Alliyah: (plural, Alliyot) ­ Literally means łgoing up˛ to the Bimah to say the blessings over the Torah Scroll.

Askenazic: Jews whose traditions and customs originate in Central and Eastern Europe.

Bedeken: Ritual where the groom puts a veil over the bride's face before the wedding ceremony.

Bimah: The raised platform or pulpit in most Synagogues where the service is conducted.

B'rachot: Blessings.

Chatan: Hebrew word for groom.

Chuppah: Wedding canopy that signifies a home or shelter; literally means "that which covers or floats" in Hebrew.

D'var Torah: An explanation of the weekly Torah portion, or parsha.

Haftarah: Readings from the biblical books of the Prophets.

Havdalah: Literally means separation or distinction. The ceremony that ends the Shabbat.

Honor: Usually refers to a non-speaking participation in the service, such as opening the ark or holding the Torah.

Horah: Traditional circle dance. The bride and groom, or the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is lifted up on a chair, accompanied by Hava Negilah.

Kallah: Hebrew for bride.

Kashrut: The Jewish dietary laws. If prepared accordingly, food is certified Kosher.

Kiddushin: The betrothal ceremony­the first part of the wedding ceremony.

Kippah: Hebrew for skull cap, (plural, kippot) worn as a sign of respect for G_d. Yarmulke is the Yiddish word.

Klezmer: Traditional Yiddish celebratory music.

Mazel Tov!: Congratulations!

Mikvah: Ritual bath for brides.

Mitzvah: (plural, Mitzvot) An obligation of Jewish life.

Motzi: Blessing over the bread recited before meals.

Nisuin: Nuptial ceremony ­the second part of the weding ceremony.

Parsha: The Torah portion of the week. Also sometimes referred to as the sedra.

Sh'ma: A central prayer of the worship service. A statement of faith which is derived from the Torah: Hear O Israel, the Lord is our G_d, the Lord is One.

Simcha: A joyous event. Often used to refer to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, or other celebrations.

Tallit: A prayer shawl.

Tefillin: Two black leather boxes, fastened to leather straps, containing portions from the Torah; also called phylacteries.

Sephardic: Jews of Spanish, Portuguese and North African descent.

Shabbat: Jewish Sabbath, beginning Friday at sundown and ending Saturday at sundown.

Sheva B'rachot: Seven marriage blessings recited under the chuppah.

Sofer: A Hebrew scribe.

Tish: Yiddish for table, the light-hearted discussion held before the wedding ceremony.

Torah: The word Torah means "teachings". Torah is also referred to as the first five books of the Bible or the five books of Moses. Sometimes Torah means the whole Bible and everything Jews believe in.

Tzedakah: Charity. The mitzvah of sacred giving.

Ufruf: A ceremony honoring the groom (and in some cases the bride) by calling them to the Torah on the Shabbat (before their wedding).

Yad: The pointer shaped at the end like a hand, which the reader of the Torah uses to keep his/her place.

Yichud: Brief seclusion (10-15 minutes) of bride and groom immediately after the wedding ceremony.

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