Glossary of Kosher Terms

Batul – to nullify. Batul refers to a situation when a small amount of one food is accidentally mixed into a larger amount of a different food. When the ratio is one part to 60 parts or less, the smaller ingredient is generally considered to be null and void.

Bishul Yisroel
Bishul Yisroel refers to the preparation of certain foods for which it is necessary for the Mashgiach to light the fire.
Click here for “Food Fit for a King: Reviewing the Laws of Bishul Akum and Bishul Yisroel” article.

Chodosh, literally, new, refers to the grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt) that has not taken root before Passover. It is called “new grain.” Its consumption may be restricted until the following Passover. Click here for chodosh articles.

Cholov Yisroel
Cholov Yisroel refers to all dairy productions, including cheese and non-fat dry milk powder, which have been under constant Rabbinical supervision.
Click here for “Cholov Yisroel: Does a Neshama Good” article.

Fleishig – meat, denotes meat and poultry products, as well as dishes and utensils used in their preparation.

Glatt Kosher
Glatt is the Yiddish word meaning smooth, and refers to beef from kosher slaughtered animals whose lungs are free of adhesions. Kosher consumers who are very stringent in accepting only high standards of kosher, demand that all meat products be “glatt.” The term is often mistakenly used to differentiate food items which have higher standards of kashruth from those which have a more relaxed level of kosher certification.
Click here for “Beware: Glatt May Not Always Be Kosher” article.

Halacha, literally, the path that one walks. It refers to Jewish Law, the complete body of rules and practices that Jews are bound to follow, including biblical commandments, directives of the Rabbis, and binding customs.

Hashgacha, literally, supervision, generally refers to kosher supervision.

Hechsher refers to the certification of a kosher product or ingredient, given by a Rabbi or a kosher supervisory agency.

Kasher – to make kosher, usually applied to the salting and soaking procedures used in the production of kosher meat and poultry. The term is also used to describe the kosherization procedure of a non-kosher facility or utensil, so that it may be used in the preparation of kosher food.

Kashruth – the state of being kosher.

Keilim – vessels or utensils.

Kli Rishon, Kli Sheni, Kli Shlishi
Kli rishon, literally the first utensil, refers to a utensil that is used for cooking, baking or roasting food or liquid, and contains that hot food or liquid. When hot food or liquid is transferred from the kli rishon into a second utensil, this utensil is called a kli sheni. A kli shlishi is the third utensil into which hot food or liquid is transferred.

Kosher is the Hebrew word meaning fit or proper, designating foods whose ingredients and manufacturing procedures comply with Jewish dietary laws.

Kosherization – the process of changing the status of equipment which had been used with non-kosher ingredients or products, to use with kosher ingredients or products.

Mashgiach – one who is trained to supervise kosher food production.

Mehadrin refers to the most stringent level of kosher supervision.

Mikvah, literally, gathering, refers to a structure, a ritualarium, in which water is gathered for purposes of immersion.

Milchig – dairy, refers to dairy products as well as dishes, utensils, and equipment used in their preparation.

Mevushal refers to wine which has been cooked.
Click here for “The Art of Kosher Winemaking” article.

Orla refers to the Torah commandment to wait for three years before partaking of any fruit from fruit-bearing trees. The forbidden fruit of this period is known as orla.
Click here for
“Orla: A Halachic Exercise in Self-Control” and “Charting the Course of Orla” articles.

Pareve – neutral, indicates a product which contains no derivatives of poultry, meat, or dairy ingredients and can therefore be eaten with either a meat, poultry or dairy meal. Pareve items include all fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, eggs, kosher fish, etc.

Pas Yisroel
Pas Yisroel refers to baked goods prepared in ovens which are turned on by the mashgiach.

Shechita – the Torah prescribed manner of slaughtering an animal or fowl for consumption.
Click here for “Kosher Chickens: From Coop to Soup” article.

Shochet – one who is specially trained to slaughter kosher meat and poultry according to the Jewish tradition.

Shmitta refers to the agricultural cycle observed in Israel, in which every seventh year the land lies fallow.
Click here for “Shmitta” and “Otzer Beis Din: Proper Distribution of Shmitta Produce” articles.

Tevilas Keilim
Tevilas Keilim, meaning dipping of utensils, refers to the immersion of vessels, utensils, or dishes in a ritualarium (mikvah) before their first use.
Click here for “The Mitzvah of Tevilas Keilim” article.

To dip or immerse in a ritualarium (mikvah).

Traiboring refers to the process of removing forbidden fats and veins from meat in order to be prepared for the next stage of kashering, namely, the salting process.
Click here for “Beware: Glatt May Not Always Be Kosher” article.

Treifah refers to food that is not kosher. The term is generally used to refer to all foods, vessels, and utensils that are not kosher. Literally, it means an animal whose flesh was torn or ripped.

Yoshon, literally, old, refers to the grain that has taken root before Pesach, even if it is harvested after Pesach. It is called “old grain.” It is permitted to be eaten without restriction. When a product is yoshon, it means that yoshon grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt, were used in its preparation.
Click here for yoshon articles.

Popular Jewish Terms

Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah, literally, son of the commandment. Bar Mitzvah refers to a 13-year old boy who is now required to observe the commandments. Colloquially, Bar Mitzvah has come to mean the celebration commemorating a boy’s reaching age 13.

Bas Mitzvah
Bas Mitzvah, literally, daughter of the commandment. Bas Mitzvah refers to a 12-year old girl who is now required to observe the commandments. Colloquially, Bas Mitzvah has come to mean the celebration commemorating a girl’s reaching age 12.

Birkas HaMazon
Birkas HaMazon – blessing of the food, commonly referred to as Grace After Meals. The recitation of birkas hamazon is called “bentsching” in Yiddish.

Bris – covenant of circumcision. It refers to the ritual circumcision of a male Jewish child, normally performed on the eighth day of his life. A male convert to Judaism also has a bris mila.

Chupah – bridal canopy used in a Jewish wedding ceremony.

Kiddush – sanctification. Kiddush is the prayer recited over wine sanctifying Shabbos or a Yom Tov.

See “Seder” in Passover Terms.

Seuda – a meal, specifically a festive or Shabbos meal.

Shabbos is the seventh day of the week, which in the Jewish calendar begins at
sunset on Friday and ends after dark on Saturday night.

Succah is a temporary outdoor dwelling used during the holiday of Succos.

Yom Tov
Yom Tov refers to the holidays on the Jewish calendar. These include: Rosh Hashana (September or October), Yom Kippur (September or October), Succos (October), Chanukah (December), Tu B’Shvat (January or February), Purim (February or March), Passover (March or April), Shavuot (May or June) Tisha B’Av (July or August).


Glossary of Passover Terms
Click here for Passover articles.

Chometz refers to food products containing any grain (wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt) or grain derivative, not specially prepared for Passover use.

Chometz Gamur
Chometz gamur, colloquially called “real chometz,” refers to products containing fermented grains. These products are biblically prohibited on Passover.

Kitniyos – legumes, are those grains that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to chometz grain and yet are not considered, in the eyes of halacha, to be in the same category as chometz. Some examples are rice, corn, peas, mustard seed, and the whole bean family (i.e. kidney, lima, garbanzo, etc.). It is customary for Jews of Ashkenazic descent to refrain from eating kitniyos on Passover.

Kosher for Passover
Kosher for Passover – foods acceptable for use during the Passover holiday which require special preparation. See “chometz”.

Matzoh – specially prepared unleavened bread which is acceptable for Passover use.

Passover – Pesach in Hebrew – is the Jewish holiday commemorating the exodus from Egypt, observed in the spring.

Seder – order. A seder is the Jewish ritual conducted as part of the observance of Passover. The Haggada, the text from which the seder is conducted, contains the precise order of the prayers, song, discussion, story-telling, eating of ritual foods and the festive meal.


Glossary of Ethnic Foods

Throughout history, Jews have lived around the globe. Consequently, their cuisine reflects the culinary influences of their host country. For example, stuffed grape leaves are popular with Sephardic Jews whose roots are in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. For Ashkenazic families who trace their roots to Central and Eastern Europe, a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal is not complete without gefilte fish. Lox and bagels, a popular American combination, was originated by impoverished Jewish immigrants to these shores because lox was inexpensive fare.

Therefore, only a few foods actually relate to Jewish religious ritual. These include matzoh and charoses which are required eating on Passover. Wine and challah are essential to the Shabbos and Yom Tov rituals. Latkes have become traditional Chanukah foods because they are fried in oil. In this case, the oil is the essential ingredient. Some have the custom to eat donuts (sufganiot in Hebrew), which are also fried in oil, instead of latkes.

Blintz – a thin crepe-like pancake rolled around a filling of cheese or fruit.

Borscht – a classic beet soup served hot or chilled, pureed or chunky.

Challah – a sweet, eggy bread, usually braided, which is served on Shabbos or Jewish festivals.

Charoses – a mixture of fruit, wine and nuts eaten at the Passover seder meal. This condiment is symbolic of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt.

Cholent – a slow cooked stew (from the French chaud – hot/warm and lent -slow) which is served on Shabbos. Ingredients generally include beef, vegetables, beans and barley. Since it is not permitted to light a fire on Shabbos, and since Jews wanted to eat hot food on Shabbos, cholent became a popular dish. Cooking starts before Shabbos begins, and continues on a covered flame or in a crockpot on Shabbos.
Click here for “Oven Kashrus: For Shabbos Use” article.

Gefilte Fish
Gefilte Fish – traditionally served on Shabbos, made with ground or chopped fish and shaped into balls or a loaf.

Holiptches – stuffed cabbage, a favorite Hungarian dish.

Kreplach – small squares or circles of rolled pasta dough filled with ground beef or chicken and folded into triangles. They can be boiled and served in soup or fried and served as a side dish. They are traditionally served at the Erev Yom Kippur meal as well as on Hoshana Rabbah and Purim.

Kugel – a casserole of potatoes, noodles or vegetables in an egg based pudding. Kugel is a traditional dish served on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Latke – a potato pancake, fried in oil, traditionally eaten during Chanukah.

See “Matzoh” in Passover Terms.

Tzimmes – a sweet stew containing carrots.