1. Shalom (shah-LOME) שלום

Perhaps the best-known Hebrew word today is shalom, which means “peace” or “wellbeing.” It also can be used for both “hello” and “goodbye.” Explore shalom

2. Todah (toe-DAH) תודה

Hebrew for gratitude or acknowledgement, this is the modern word for “thank you.” In Temple times, a Jew who felt grateful for G‑d’s salvation from danger would bring a korban todah, a “sacrifice of gratitude.” Explore todah

3. Torah (toe-RAH) תורה

Literally “guide” or “instruction,” the Torah refers to the Five Books of Moses which contain G‑d’s instructions. More broadly, Torah refers to the entire corpus of Jewish spiritual scholarship. Explore Torah

4. Mitzvah (mitz-VAH) מצוה

Literally “commandment,” mitzvah refers to any of the 613 commandments in the Torah, especially giving charity. Since a Jew is obligated to follow the commandments after reaching the age of majority, a boy’s 13th birthday is his “bar mitzvah” and a girl’s 12th birthday is her “bat mitzvah.” Explore mitzvah

5. Yehudi (Ye-hoo-DEE) יהודי

The Jewish nation is known by various names, including Ivrim (Hebrews) and Bnei Yisrael (Israelites). The most common term nowadays, however, is Jews, Yehudim (or Yehudi in singular) in Hebrew. This name came into being since the Jews of the Holy Land were ruled by the Davidic kings, descendants of the tribe of Judah. Explore Yehudim

6. Ahavah (ah-hah-VAH) אהבה

This is the Hebrew noun for “love.” The Torah speaks extensively about love: Ahavah of Isaac toward his wayward son, Esau; ahavah of Jacob toward his wife Rachel; ahavah between G‑d and His people; ahavah we are to have for each other; and ahavah we are enjoined to extend to “strangers” (converts). Explore ahavah

7. Shabbat (Shah-BOT, or SHAH-boss) שבת

The progenitor of the English word “sabbath,” Shabbat refers to the Jewish day of rest. Observed from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening since our Exodus from Egypt, Shabbat is celebrated with special prayers, candle-lighting (on Friday afternoon), feasting, and resting. Explore Shabbat

8. Kodesh (CO-desh) קדש

Kodesh means “set aside” or “sacred.” Shabbat, the holiest day, is referred to as Shabbat kodesh. Kodesh is also the root of Kaddish (the prayer in which we sanctify G‑d’s name), Kiddush (the prayer in which we proclaim the holiness of Shabbat), and chevra kadisha (sacred [burial] society).

9. Hashem (hah-SHEM) השם

The Torah contains many names for G‑d. Jews have historically refrained from using these names in conversation, instead referring to the Creator as Hashem, which means “the name.” Bonus: The word baruch (bah-ROOKH) means “blessed,” so if someone asks you how you are doing (or whenever you want to report good news), you can preface your answer with baruch Hashem, “blessed be G‑d.”

10. Ivrit (eev-REET) עברית

Jews traditionally refer to the Hebrew language as Lashon Hakodesh, “the Holy Tongue.” Modern Hebrew, on the other hand, is referred to as Ivrit (Hebrew for “Hebrew”). Explore the Hebrew language

11. Imma (EE-mah) אמא

The Torah refers to Eve, the first woman, as aim kol chai, “the mother of all life.” Aim is the root word of imma, the Hebrew equivalent of “mommy.” Explore Jewish mothers

12. Abba (AH-bah) אבא

Abba is the Hebrew equivalent of “daddy.” In Judaism it is actually a mitzvah to refer to our parents by these honorifics, rather than by their given names.

13. Kosher (kah-SHER) כשר

The Hebrew word kosher literally means “fit.” The laws of kosher define the foods that are fit for consumption for a Jew (as well as the ritual items that are fit to be used), but the word has come to refer more broadly to anything that is “above board” or “legit.” Explore kosher