all about bar/bat mitzvahs
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Glossary
Don’t let some strange words throw you off! Here’s a little guide to some of the bar/bat mitzvah buzzwords.
Aliyah: Literally means “going up.” “Making aliyah” means moving to Israel, but “having an aliyah” refers to having the honor of reciting the blessing before a Torah reading.
Daven: A Yiddish word Jews often use meaning “to pray.”
Dvar Torah: Literally a “word of Torah.” It’s customary on Shabbat to explain the Torah portion and maybe even relate it to the world today. Bar/bat mitzvah students in many communities deliver a Dvar Torah as part of their bar/bat mitzvah ceremony, sharing their knowledge of their Torah portions and relating it to their journey into Jewish adulthood.
Haftarah: Selections from ancient Jewish prophets and writings that are thematically linked to the Torah portion.
Kippah: Called a yarmulke in Yiddish, this is a head covering worn by males and, in some congregations, some females. It represents the idea that G-d is above us.
Minyan: A quorum of 10 people necessary to pray together. This is made up of Jewish men over the age of 13 in all communities, and in some egalitarian communities, Jewish women over the age of 12.
Siddur: The Jewish prayer book. These books come in all shapes and sizes, and often include English translations or transliterations (Hebrew words in English writing).
Tallit: The traditional prayer shawl worn during morning services to represent the commandments in the Torah. Men are required to wear a tallit (or tallis), but in some congregations, you will find many women doing this as well.
Tanach: The acronym for Torah (Bible), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). Many of the prayers and readings in our service come from this collection.
Torah: Sometimes called the five books of Moses, this is the scroll of stories, laws and history of the Jewish people that we read every week. Each week is a new parsha or portion of the Torah. It’s a scroll of parchment paper with black Hebrew letters.