Glossary of Terms


Aninut First stage of mourning – the period between the death and the funeral
Chessed shel emet a true act of kindness (literally, truth) – a particularly special mitzvah
Chevra Kadisha holy brotherhood society
Cohenim Cohens, the priestly class
(K)El Maleh Rachamim memorial prayer
Goses a dying person in his/her final moments
Halacha Jewish law
Hesped eulogy
Kaddish, Mourners’ Kaddish special prayer repeated by mourners
Kria ritual tearing of clothes to show a sign of morning and loss of loved one
Kvurah burial
Levaiyah lit, accompanying the deceased – refers to the funeral
Matzevah, hakamat matzevah lit, the raising of the headstone – refers to the consecration
Minyan group of 10 Jewish men (over 13 years old) necessary to conduct a prayer service
Mitzvah good deed
Onen mourner during the aninut period
Pikuach nefesh the saving of a life
Seudat Havra’ah condolence meal
Shabbat the Sabbath
Shechinah Divine Presence
Shiva 1st stage of mourning, which lasts seven days
Shloshim 2nd stage of mourning from end of shiva to the morning of 30th day following the burial
Shmira Watching over the body, from the time of death until the burial
Shomer, shomrim watcher/s who ensure the deceased is never left alone
Tachrichim plain white shrouds used to dress the deceased
Tahara ritual cleansing of the body, performed by the Chevra Kadisha
Tallit men’s prayer shawl
Tzedakah charity and righteousness combine in the giving of money to help others
Tzitzit strands of thread used when praying, tied to the tallit’s edge
Tzur stone, rock, sometimes used to refer to G-d
Yahrzeit anniversary of a death
Yom Tov Jewish holiday
Yud-Bet Chodesh the 12 months or final stage of mourning from the burial
Note: The modern (Sephardi) Hebrew pronunciation is shown here.