Tradition & Innovation

Glossary beginning with E

El Maleh Rachamim

Lit. "God, full of compassion"

A prayer of remembrance recited at funerals and when visiting the grave of a loved one. It is sometimes recited after receiving an aliyah to the Torah marking the yahrtzeit of a loved one. This prayer was originally recited for the Martyrs of the Crusades and the Chmielnicki massacres.

Synonyms: el maleh rachamim

Elijah is a biblical prophet who is said never to have died. There are therefore many legends associated with Elijah. In the Talmud, unresolved arguments will be resolved when Elijah comes. He will herald the coming of the messiah. In Jewish ritual, Elijah is a liminal figure, arriving at moments of danger and transition – at a brit milah, a chair is put out for him, a cup is poured for Elijah at the Passover seder, and he is invoked at havdalah. His Hebrew name is Eliyahu.

Synonyms: Eliyahu

Lit. Evening

Jewish holidays begin in the evening. Hence, Erev Shabbat is the eve of the Sabbath.


Lit. Betrothal

Once a separate ceremony, but now a segment of the contemporary wedding ceremony.


Heroine of the Purim story and Megillat (the scroll of) Esther. She is married to the king by her cousin Mordecai and ultimately saves her people from execution.


A lemon-like fruit (citron) used at Sukkot as one of the four species. Women desiring to get pregnant were given the pitom (stem) to eat after Sukkot.

Synonyms: esrog
Eve (Hava)

Eve, according to the book of Genesis, is Adam's wife, the first woman to be created.

Synonyms: Eve, Chava, Chavah, Hava
Eyshet Hayil

Lit. "woman of valor"

This 22 verse poem from Proverbs 31 is arranged as an acrostic and is often recited in Jewish households on Friday night. The poem describes the characteristics of a "good wife" and is also thought of as an allegory referencing the Shekhinah, Torah or Shabbat.

Synonyms: Eshet Chayil, Eshet Hayil

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