Glossary beginning with H

Hachnassat Kallah
Hachnassat Orchim
Haftarah
The portion of the books of the prophets read on Shabbat accompanying the Torah reading. The two usually have parallel themes. It is customary, though not requisite, that a bar/bat mitzvah celebrant chant the haftarah.
Hagar
In the book of Genesis, Sarah suggests that Abraham take Hagar as a concubine in order to conceive a child, which she promptly does. Feeling threatened by Hagar and her child, Ishmael, Sarah pushes Abraham to banish them from their home.
Haggadah
Lit. "telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, legend, and food.
Hakafot
The seven circuits made with the Torah on Simchat Torah [hakafah, sing.].
Halacha
Halachic
Hallah
Braided egg bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays. Reminiscent of bread eaten by Priests in Temple, Manna, Sustenance. Plural: Hallot Synonyms: Challah, Challot
Hallel
Lit., praise. Usually refers to that group of psalms (Psalms 113-118) recited on most holidays and Rosh Chodesh.
Hamantaschen
Haman's hat (ears, or pockets). Traditional filled triangular cakes eaten on Purim to symbolize Haman's hat (pocket or ears).
Hametz
lit., leaven: specifically any food made of grain and water which has fermented and risen. Also used to refer to anything that is not ''kosher for Passover.'' Synonyms: Chametz, Chumetz, Humetz
Hannah
Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel, who, through her prayers, is rewarded a child. She herself is also considered a prophet. Hannah's prayer becomes the model, in rabbinic Judaism, for prayer in general.
Hanukiah
See Chanukiah.
Hanukkah
Hanukkah is the holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles on each of eight nights in a hanukkiyah or menorah. Other customs include the eating of latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiot (jelly donuts), or cheese dishes, playing dreidl (a gambling game with a top), and, in America today, gift giving. Synonyms: Chanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukkah
Hanukkiyah
The modern-Hebrew term for the Hanukah menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum (for eight primary candles plus the shamash/server candle) lit on Hanukah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days. Synonyms: Chanukkiyah, Hanukiyah
Haroset
In Ashkenazic tradition, nuts are ground with apples and wine to make haroset for the Passove seder plate. Haroset represents both the mortar we were forced to make as slaves in Egypt and the fertility/sexuality of the Jewish women who continued to give birth to new life (under the apple trees), despite oppression. Sephardic and other Middle-Eastern haroset typically uses dates as the base, often seasoned with ground ginger or cinnamon.
HaShem
lit., "the Name," referring to the ineffable name of God; used as a substitute for any of the names of God when not connected to prayer, particularly in conversation.
Hatarat Nedarim
Annulment of vows (associated with the High Holidays, especially Yom Kippur).
Havdalah
Lit. Separation; distinction. A ceremony performed on Saturday night to mark the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the week. This simple, lovely ceremony uses wine, a braided candle, and sweet-smelling spices.
Havurah
A group of friends; has come to refer to an alternative prayer community. In the ‘70’s, Havurot developed as an alternative to large congregational services. Some Havurot pray together; others study, socialize, or engage in some alternative activity.
Hazzan
Cantor.
Hesed
Lovingkindness. Synonyms: Chesed
Hevruta
Hol Hamo'ed
The intermediate days of a festival. Both Passover and Sukkot have such days, which are not as sacred as the holidays that fall at either end, but they are not regular weekdays, either. Hallel is recited during hol mo'ed, some kinds of work are forbidden, and religious families often take these days off from work and school.
Holocaust
The genocide of millions of European Jews, as well as other ethnic, religious and minority groups, by the Nazis during World War II. The tragic events of the Holocaust are now commemorated each year on Yom HaShoah; established in 1952 by the Knesset, or Israeli government. Shoah, which means calamity in Hebrew, has become the term used to describe the systemic mass slaughter that occurred during World War II. Synonyms: Shoah
Huldah
A prophetess, mentioned in 2 Kings. The king asks his advisers to consult her when he realizes that he and the people have not been following God's word. Noted for her compassion.
Humash
The five books of Moses, or Torah. A section of the humash is read and/or studied every week in synagogue. Synonyms: chumash
Huppah
Marriage canopy symbolizing new home, fragility, protection. Synonyms: chuppah