Tradition & Innovation

Glossary beginning with H

Hachnassat Kallah
Lit. Ushering in the bride
A tradition in some Jewish communities (usually Orthodox) to donate money to provide a dowry for a poor bride.
Synonyms: Hachnasat Kallah, Hakhnasat Kallah, Hachnosas Kallah, Hachnasas Kallah
Hachnassat Orchim

Lit. Welcoming guests.

The mitzvah of showing hospitality.


The portion of the books of the prophets read on Shabbat after the Torah reading. The two usually have parallel themes. 


Abraham's concubine and the mother of Ishmael, the patriarch of Islam. In the book of Genesis, when Sarah cannot conceive, she suggests that Abraham takeher servant Hagar as a concubine in order to conceive a child, which she promptly does. Feeling threatened by Hagar and her child, Sarah convinces Abraham to banish them from their home. God saves Hagar and Ishmael from dying in the desert.


Lit. "Telling.\”

The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history.


Plural of "hakafah." The hakafah is the procession made with the Torah before the Torah service. The term "hakafot" is the plural and also generally refers to the seven circuits made with the Torah on Simchat Torah.

Synonyms: Hakafah

The layered tradition of Jewish law. It includes the "written law" from the Torah and the oral law developed in the Talmud and is officially codified in the Shulchan Aruch ("Code of Jewish Law").


Anything related to the Jewish law tradition known as halacha


Braided egg bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays. Reminiscent of bread eaten by Priests in the Temple, of manna in the desert, and sustenance in general. Plural: Hallot

Synonyms: Challah, Challot, Challa

Lit. “Praise”

The Hallel prayers are additional prayers taken from Psalms 113-118 and are traditionally recited on the Jewish holidays of Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Chodesh, and Hanukah.


Lit. (Yiddish) Haman's hat, ears, or pocket.

 Triangular cakes with fillings which are traditionally eaten on Purim to symbolize Haman's hat (sometimes his pocket or ears).


Lit. Leavening

Any food made of grain and water which has fermented and risen and is thus prohibited to be eaten during Passover.'


Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel, who, through her prayers, is rewarded a child. She herself is also considered a prophet. Hannah's intense devotional style of prayer becomes the model, in rabbinic Judaism, for prayer in general.

Synonyms: Hanna, Hana

The holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving.


The modern Hebrew term for the Hanukah menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum (eight primary candles plus the shamash/server candle) lit on Hanukah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.


The fruit and nut paste included in the Passover seder to represent the mortar the Israelite slaves used in Egypt. In Ashkenazic tradition, nuts are ground with apples and wine to make haroset for the Passover seder plate. Sephardic and other Middle-Eastern haroset typically uses dates as the base, often seasoned with ground ginger or cinnamon.

Synonyms: charoset, charoses, haroses

Lit. The Name, referring to the ineffable name of God; used as a substitute for any of the more sacred names of God when not speaking in prayer. Particularly used in conversation.

Synonyms: Hashem
Hatarat Nedarim

Annulment of vows, associated with the High Holidays, especially the Yom Kippur liturgy, which includes a passage releasing Jews from vows made in the previous year.


Lit. Separation

A ceremony performed on Saturday night to mark the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the week, using wine, a braided candle, and sweet-smelling spices.


Lit. Group of friends

Commonly has come to mean an alternative prayer community. In the 1970’s, havurot (plural) developed as an alternative to large syngagogues. Some havurot pray together; others study, socialize, or engage in some alternative activity.


Lit. Cantor.

The one who leads the chanting of prayers.


Lit. Kindness

It is said in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that the world stands on three things: Torah (learning), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasidim (acts of kindness). 

Hol Hamo'ed

The intermediate days of a festival. Both Passover and Sukkot have such days. These days which are not as sacred as the days that fall at at the beginning or the end, but they are also not quite regular weekdays, either. The Hallel prayers are recited during hol mo'ed, some kinds of work are forbidden, and religious families often take these days off from work and school.


The genocide of millions of European Jews--as well as other ethnic, religious and minority groups--by the Nazis during World War II. The tragic events of the Holocaust are now commemorated each year on Yom HaShoah; established in 1952 by the Israeli government. Shoah (calamity) has become the term used to describe the systemic mass slaughter that occurred during World War II.


A prophetess mentioned in 2 Kings. The king asks his advisers to consult her when he realizes that he and the people have not been following God's word. She is noted for her compassion.


The book that contains the text of the Torah. A section of the humash is read and/or studied every week in synagogue.


Marriage canopy symbolizing the couple's new home.

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