Prayer

Ashrei

Ashrei n. Hebrew (OSH-ray) Literally, “happy are they.” A responsive prayer recited during daily and Shabbat services. It includes language from three psalms; its theme is God’s concern for humankind. The prayer is an acrostic; each line begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet except for the letter nun. noun Eisenberg, J., Scolnic, …

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Ashamnu

Ashamnu n. Hebrew (ah-SHAHM-noo) Literally, “we have sinned.” A prayer recited on Yom Kippur. It is customary to tap over the heart with the right hand during the prayer. The Ashamnu is in the form of an acrostic, with a sin listed for each letter of the alphabet. For example, “we abuse, we betray, we …

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Amidah

Amidah n. Hebrew (ah-MEE-dah) Literally, “standing.” A silent or whispered prayer said while standing. The Amidah, considered the centerpiece of the synagogue service, is a plea to God to fulfill spiritual and physical needs, as well as those of the Land of Israel. It is said three times a day in synagogue, and in an …

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amen

amen int. Hebrew (ah-MEN) Literally, “so be it.” The word said in unison by a congregation in response to a prayer to signify solemn agreement. According to the Talmud, “amen” is an acrostic of the three Hebrew words El Melekh Ne’eman (The Lord is a trustworthy King). It is sometimes pronounced awe-MAIN. int. interjection Eisenberg, …

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Al Het

Al Het n. Hebrew (ahl HATE) A Yom Kippur prayer that asks forgiveness for a multitude of sins committed during the previous year. The congregation says the Al Het aloud as well as silently because Jews are responsible not only for themselves but also for their entire community. It is customary for a Jew to …

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Aleinu

Aleinu n. Hebrew (ah-LAY-noo) Literally, “it is upon us.” A prayer in praise of God, Aleinu acknowledges the unique relationship between God and the Jewish people. It is sung toward the end of synagogue services while the congregation stands. Originally from the High Holy Day liturgy, the Aleinu is now part of all services. It’s …

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Ahavat Olam

Ahavat Olam n. Hebrew (ah-hah-VAHT oh-LAHM) Literally, “Eternal Love.” 1. The initial words of the prayer that precedes the Shema in the evening service. It expresses God’s eternal love for the people of Israel. 2. ahavat olam Generally expressed as “love of the world.” A term to describe the motivation behind giving tzedakah or doing …

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ANOINTING

ANOINTING Anointing was used in antiquity in three chief connexions: (1) as a part of the toilet, to beautify, strengthen, and refresh the body; (2) medicinally; (3) as a part of religious ceremonial. From the last-named sprang (4) the use of terms of anointing in a metaphorical sense to signify, e.g., the imparting of the …

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ANGER

ANGER Human anger.—Except by the stoical mind which finds no place for strong emotion in a moral scheme, anger has been recognized as a quality which, under certain conditions and within certain limits, may not only be permissible but commendable. Its ready abuse has, however, led to its being commonly placed among the evils of …

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