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    Sabbath Related Greetings

    Shabbat Shalom (shah-BAHT shah-LOHM)

    Literally, Sabbath peace or peaceful Sabbath. This is an appropriate greeting at any time on Shabbat, or just before shabbat (e.g. any time on Friday).

    Shavua Tov (shah-VOO-ah TOHV)

    Hebrew. Literally, good week. This greeting is used after Havdalah (the ceremony marking the conclusion of Shabbat), to wish someone a good forthcoming week.

    Common Jewish Holiday Greetings

    Chag Sameach (KHAHG sah-MEHY-ahkh)

    Hebrew. Literally, joyous festival. This is an appropriate greeting for just about any holiday, but it's especially appropriate for Sukkot (Festival of Booths), Shavu'ot (Festivals of Weeks) and Pesach (Passover), or for the day before the festival.  

    Gut Yontiff (GUT YAHN-tiff; gut rhymes with put)

    Yiddish. Literally, good holiday. 

    Have an easy fast

    This is the proper way to wish someone well for Yom Kippur. It is not customary to wish people a Happy Yom Kippur; it's not a happy holiday.

    Jewish Holidays

    Rosh haShanah

    Jewish New Year


    a Jewish sacred meal in which the foods themselves embody the story of liberation from oppression. A bitter herb embodies the bitterness of racism, oppression, war. Matzah, the bread whose baking was so urgent that its bakers could not take time to let it rise, embodies what Rev. Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of Now.” Charoset, a delicious paste of chopped fruit, nuts, spice, and grape juice, embodies the joyful world we work to create. This occurs on the first night or first two nights of Passover


    holiday based on biblical Book of Esther

    Yom Kippur

    holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast, confession, and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services




    Festival of “Booths”

    Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah

    bar - for a boy, and bat - for a girl


    High Holy Day Jewish prayer book

    High Holy Days - - or Days of Awe

    includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the 10 days in between

    Other Expressions

    Shalom (shah-LOHM)

    Hebrew. Literally, peace. A way of saying "hello" or "goodbye."

    Mazel Tov (MAH-zl TAWV)

    Yiddish/Hebrew. Literally, good luck. This is the traditional way of expressing congratulations.


    Yiddish word that means something like “fate” or “destiny,” as in “I met my bashert” (my soulmate, the one who was meant for me).

    Shalem Aleikhem (SHOH-lehm ah-LEH- khem)

    Hebrew. Peace upon you. A traditional greeting. It is related to the common Arabic greeting, salaam alaikum (not surprising, because Hebrew and Arabic are in the same family of languages). The traditional response to the greeting is Aleikhem Shalom (and upon you, peace).

    Yasher koach (YAH-shehyr KOH-ahkh)

    Hebrew. Literally, may your  strength be straight, or direct. A way of congratulating someone for performing a mitzvah or other good deed. In essence, you are wishing this person the strength to continue doing this good thing, and you are also recognizing the effort that the person put into doing this good thing. It is most commonly used in synagogue, to congratulate someone after he or she has participated in some aspect of the service. Strictly speaking, this is a masculine form. Some people use the feminine form (yishar kochech) when expressing the same sentiment for a woman.

    Scripture & Text


    Five Books of Moses, and also the general term for Jewish sacred texts


    Jewish name for the whole Hebrew Bible


    non-legal commentaries on earlier sacred text - including literary and sometimes fanciful commentary


    monumental work of Jewish law, edited in 6th c. CE


    Jewish prayer book


    “friendship,” connotes pairs of people who study sacred text together in partnership


    prayer, especially liturgical prayer



    lit “covenant,” shorthand for “brit milah” - circumcision ceremony




    a group of ten Jews required for a communal prayer service


    Jews originally from North Africa and the Middle East (many of them Arabic-speaking, Muslim-majority countries)

    Sitting Shiva

    seven day bereavement ritual, where mourners stay at home and community members come and bring food and comfort


    lit - canopy;  shorthand for Jewish wedding ceremony


    a decorative small case placed on the upper right side of door frames in Jewish homes, containing passages from the Torah (based on Deuteronomy 6:9).


    Jews originally from Eastern, Central and Southern Europe (approximately 85% of the Jews in the U.S., and 60% of all Jews in the world)


    from the verb “to write” - the Jewish wedding contract, often embedded in a work of art and placed prominently on the wall at home (examples are here)

    Kosher (adjective) or Kashrut (the noun describing the system)

    conforming with Jewish dietary laws - in short, only certain animals may be eaten, and those must be slaughtered in a particular way, and meat/chicken may not be mixed with dairy items.


    Jews whose families were originally from Spain or Portugal (who moved to other parts of the world, including Turkey and the Middle East, after Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1496)

    Common Islamic Expressions

    Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

    In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful; when starting to do something

    As-salaamu A'laikum

    Peace be upon you; when greeting someone

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun

    To God we belong and to Him we return; when hearing about a death or tragedy


    God willing; when mentioning something that will be done in the future


    Glory be to God; when praising something

    Jazakullah khair

    God reward you; when thanking someone

    Salla Allahu alayhi wa salam

    Send your blessings upon him (said when mentioning Prophet Muhammad)


    Praise be to God; after sneezing or when you're happy about something


    As God willed; when appreciating something


    Lit. We seek refuge with God; when you see something bad


    I swear to God; when taking an oath

    Common Islamic Terms


    Arabic for God


    Holy book for Muslims believed to be the literal word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, via the archangel Gabriel


    Ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 29 - 30 days abstaining from food, drink and lawful sexual relations between spouses


    The meal of consciously breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan that traditionally begins with the eating of a date.


    Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad


    Arabic for canonical five daily prayers


    Persian and Turkish word for canonical prayer




    Interpretation of the Qur’an; exegesis


    Prayer leader; there are women imams for all women’s congregational prayer in several schools of Islamic thought




    Practice of the Prophet Muhammad


    Pilgrimage to Mecca; one of the five pillars of Islam; Pilgrims go Mecca to perform a rite that commemorates Abraham and his wife, Hajar.  The Hajj is completed the 12 month of the Islamic lunar calendar




    Charity; In Ramadan, Muslims who are financially able give 2.5 % of their total wealth accumulated as zakat

    Islamic Holidays

    Eid al Fitr

    Eid means festival in Arabic. Eid al Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan; literally, “festival of breaking the fast”

    Eid al Adha

    Festival or feast of sacrifice; celebrated at the end of pilgrimage to Mecca; honors Abraham and his family along with their obedience to God

    Common Islamic Holiday Greetings

    Eid Mubarak

    Blessed or Happy Eid

    Taqabbala Allahu minna wa minkum

    May God accept from us, and from you

    Eid Saeed

    Happy Eid

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