Jacob Dinezon – Glossary

The Mother Among Our Classic Yiddish Writers
By Shmuel Rozshanski
Translated from the Yiddish by
Miri Koral
Baba Bukh. A romance written in verse by Eliahu Bakhur in the 16th century; an important early poetic work in Old Yiddish.
belletrist. A writer of belles lettres; someone who creates literary works that are valued more for their aesthetic qualities than for their informational or educational content.
cheder. Traditional religious school for young boys.
chutzpah. Nerve, gall, or audacity.
Eastern Wall. The synagogue wall that faces east, which is the direction of Jerusalem for Jews living in the Diaspora; a place of honor in the synagogue.
Haskalah. The Jewish Enlightenment movement.
hasid. A follower of the Hasidic movement.
jargon. What Yiddish was called before it became a more acceptable Jewish language for literature and communications. Yiddish was also called “di mame-loshn,” the mother language or mother tongue.
kibitzer. A person who offers advise or criticism.
kosher. Food prepared according to Jewish law.
kreplach. Small dumplings filled with meat or another filling.
lamed-vovnik. One of the thirty-six hidden saints or holy ones whose piety and righteous merit sustains the world.
maskil. A follower of the Jewish Enlightenment movement.
minyan. Ten men needed to hold a public Jewish prayer service.
Musar. A non-Hasidic Jewish ethical, educational, and cultural movement founded in response to the Jewish Enlightenment movement.
rabiner. A rabbi.
rebbe. A teacher; also a Hasidic spiritual leader.
Shekhinah. The feminine, indwelling presence of the Divine on earth.
shmone esrey. Literally, “Eighteen”; the eighteen blessings recited three times a day in silence or in a whisper as part of the ritual prayers.
shmendrik. A silly or stupid person.
shokhet. A ritual slaughterer of animals and poultry.
Tsene Rene. A late 16th century Yiddish prayer book commonly called the “Women’s Bible” that contains readings that correspond to the weekly Torah portions of the Pentateuch and Haftorah.
vastreger. A water carrier.
Yiddishist. A proponent of Yiddish language and culture.
zeitgeist. The spirit of the times; the ideas, beliefs, and mood of a particular historical period.
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