Glossary beginning with R

Rachatz

Rritual handwashing that is part of the order of the Passover seder. One says a blessing after this washing, as opposed to the handwashing earlier in the seder, when one does not.

Synonyms: rakhatz
Rachel

Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem.

Rebbetzin

Lit. Wife of a rabbi (Yiddish) 

In many communities the rebbetzin has had a special and honored role, if strictly prescribed by gender. She often has with many expectations and duties attendant to her husband and the shul.

Rebecca

The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka.

Synonyms: Rebekah, Rivka
Reshut

Lit. Domain.

As in, the public domain (reshut harabim) or the private domain (reshut hayachid).

Synonyms: R'Shut, Reshoot, R'Shoot
Ribono Shel Olam

Lit. Master of the Universe

A term sometimes used in the Jewish liturgy to refer to God.

Rosh Chodesh

The new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh.

Synonyms: Rosh Hodesh
Rosh Hashana

The Jewish New Year, also considered the Day of Judgment. The period of the High Holidays is a time of introspection and atonement. The holiday is celebrated with the sounding of the shofar, lengthy prayers in synagogue, the eating of apples and honey, and round challah for a sweet and whole year. Tashlich, casting bread on the water to symbolize the washing away of sins, also takes place on Rosh Hashana.

Synonyms: Rosh Hashanah
Ruth

An important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David.

Ru’ach

Lit. Spirit.

Some new versions of blessings call God "Spirit of the World" (Ru’ach Ha’olam), rather than "King of the World" (Melech Ha'olam). 

Synonyms: Ruach, Ruakh