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A Glossary of Terms for the Jewish High Holy Days

Joshua Moss


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Al Chet
The recitation of sin in the Yom Kippur service. Confession is made in the plural ("we have…") enumerating every conceivable sin that may have been committed within the worldwide Jewish community.

Baal T'Kiah
One who is expert at sounding the shofar during the Rosh Hashanah services.

Sacrificial rites, literally "coverings." The killing of a fowl to be given to the needy, or else a monetary substitute.

Kol Nidre
"All Vows," a prayer chanted on the eve of the Day of Atonement, asking for absolution from all oaths, obligations and commitments made impulsively or under external duress.

L'shanah ha'baah b'Yerushalayim
"Next year in Jerusalem," the expression of hope for the restoration of the Promised Land as well as peace and justice in the world. This phrase is recited both at Passover and the Day of Atonement.

L'shanah tovah
"To a good year," a traditional greeting for the Jewish New Year.

Cycle, holiday prayer book. A special volume containing prayers and liturgy for the festivals and holy days.

Forgiveness. The custom of first asking a wronged person's pardon in order to be forgiven by God on the Day of Atonement.

Rosh HaShanah
"Head of the Year," the new year, which begins on the first of the month of Tishre.

Ram's horn blown on the Jewish New Year (also known as the Feast of Trumpets).

"Casting off," the symbolic casting away of sins on the first day of the new year, done by the edge of a body of moving water. People turn their pockets inside out, tossing the contents (often breadcrumbs expressly for that purpose) into the water to symbolize the cleansing from sin after repentance.

Tekiat Shofar
The sounding of the ram's horn at the beginning of the New Year services and at the conclusion of the Day of Atonement.


Yamim Noraim
"The awe-inspiring days," referring to the ten-day period of soul searching between the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur
The Day of Atonement, literally "day of covering."

Yom Tov
A holiday, literally "good day."

Learn more about Christianity's Jewish roots at the Jews for Jesus Web site

© Jews for Jesus. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About The Author


Joshua Moss, Jews for Jesus, is a contributor to