To make your experience here a little smoother, I've included a glossary to help explain some of the verbiage. As with Judaism itself, there are various definitions & meanings for most of the information listed here, so feel free and explore online and do a little comparison shopping:
G'D: The name GOD is holy. Using an apostrophe is an expression of respect
Universe: In it's capitalized non-secular form it implies G'd & all aspects & energies within our known & unknown existence
Torah: The Hebrew Bible / Law (aka: The Old Testatment / aka: The first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
Universal Judaism: A mindset within Judaism
Rabbi: In its most common, modern form, A rabbi is an interpreter and teacher of Torah (aka: Rav, Rab, Rebbe). A modern rabbi also functions as a type of community leader, or Jewish guide
Tikkun Olam (Tee-coon Oh-lah-m): The on-going restoration of the world, both spiritually & physically; also interpreted as social action
Life-Cycle Events: Bris/Brit, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, Weddings, Funerals, etc.
Bris/Brit Milah: Circumcision (performed in Jewish & non-Jewish communities around the world)
Mezuzah: A kosher piece of parchment contained inside a small, decorative housing about the size of your ring finger. It is affixed "upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates"... a commandment found in the Torah that reminds us to teach our children and others in our lives about the Torah. Mezuzahs can be found on the outside doorposts (door frame) of most Jewish homes
Tefillin (Tuh-fill-in): Are also called Phylacteries, which is a Greek word not normally used by Jews. The commandment to wear tefillin during daily prayer (preferably morning) can be found in four places in the Torah: (Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8, Deuteronomy 11:18). For more information, refer to Aryeh Kaplan's book titled "Tefillin" (any edition is acceptable)
Mitzvah: The root meaning is "to bind," and also is used as a way to express fulfilling a "commandment". It is often used to mean "a good thing" in English. When we do a "good thing" in this world, we fulfill a "commandment" and "bind" ourselves to G'd
Bar & Bat Mitzvah: "Bar" is for boys & "Bat" is for girls. Bar Mitzvah literal translats to "Son of a Commandment". Bat Mitzvah literally translates to "Daughter of a Commandment". Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrations that take place when a boy or girl reaches the age of 13 - a time when a boy & a girl have become old enough to begin taking on more responsibility in life and in their Jewish studies. It is also a time when boys are given their first pair of tefillin. Generally, the Bar and Bat Mitzvah commandment only applies to males, since it is what is called a "timed commandment". All commandments given to humans by G'd that have some sort of time requirement attached to them are male-specific, and females are exempt, but not forbidden to perform them. Many Jewish communities encourage an egalitarian (non-sexist) approach to all Mitzvahs
Minhags:Translates into "Traditions," or "Customs"
Synagogue: A Jewish place of worship (aka: Temple or Church)
Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Follows the Torah without alteration or secular interpretation
Orthodox Judaism: One step less observant than Ultra-Orthodox
Conservative Judaism: One step less observant than Orthodox
Reform Judaism: One step less observant than Conservative
Liberal Judaism: Similar to Reform, but tends to more readily embrace secular lifeways & lifestyles
Chabad: (Hah-bod) Is a Hasidic (Hah-sid-ick) movement in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, founded in 18th century Russia, gaining more ground & congregants world-wide than any other movement in Judaism. Our brothers and sisters are fairly recognizable in black hats, black coats, black slacks, white shirts. beards, and side curls called "payot" (Pay-oat). Other ultra-orthodox groups include the "Satmar," "Bobover" and many others, with the largest being the "Lubavitch," with its world headquarters being in Brooklyn, NY.
LGBTQ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning
Isaiah: Is the first of the latter prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Wilshire Boulevard Temple: The Los Angeles Synagogue I grew up in
Judaism is rich with traditions that reach into our souls from thousands of years ago. The words of the Torah have been - and will continue to be - interpreted by each generation within the religious and socio-political framework of their society. We live in a time that little resembles that of our ancient ancestors - a time when the Torah was given to the world and interpreted for the first time. So come explore Judaism as it relates to us, past-present-and-future. Let me help you create a Judaism that speaks to YOU, brightens YOUR heart, and burns in YOUR soul.
USA: Though I reside in WA, I do travel to various points across America to officiate at life-cycle events and other activities for those requesting my services. I am also available on short notice for your time-sensitive needs.