Al Hanisim (For the miracles) is a paragraph added to the Shemoneh Esrei and the Grace after the Meals on Purim and Chanukah. It mentions the great dangers faced by the Jews from the decrees of either Haman or Antiochus respectively, and thanks God for His miraculous deliverance.
The concluding reading of prayer services, Aleinu (Upon us) reminds Jews of their historical and universal mission. It thus provides transition from the lofty world of prayer to the world of human activity. Aleinu consists of two paragraphs, traditionally associated with Joshua.
Arvit is the evening prayer service. Its main components are Shema, blessings before and after it and the Shemoneh Esrei (standing) prayer. Though the classical sources call it optional, it has evolved in common practice and become a type of obligation for Jewish men.
Birkat Hamazon (Grace after the Meals) is the series of four blessings recited after a meal in which one eats bread. It is the only blessing clearly commanded by the Torah itself (Deuteronomy 8:10), and not by the rabbis.
Birkot Hashachar (Morning blessings) were designed to thank God every day for all the benefits He gives to man in general, and to Jews in particular. Examples of the latter are thanks for vision, for strength and for clothing; and of the latter, the commandment to cover the head.
Blessing is the act of calling down God's favor upon someone or something. The one calling down can be a person, an angel or God Himself. Blessings are meant to bring benefits to their recipient, such as material goods or having many offspring.
Blessings are declarations of acknowledgement to God about His greatness, His gifts or His connection with the Jewish people via the commandments. While they follow several formats, they all include the key phrase, "Blessed are You, O Lord!"
Hallel consists of Psalms 113-118 and is recited on most holidays. There are, however, some holidays on which only part or none of it is recited. These chapters are psalms of thanksgiving, focusing on God's communal and personal salvation for those who put their trust in Him.
Hashkiveinu (Lay us down) is a blessing preceding the Shemoneh Esrei of the evening prayers, it calls upon God to protect us through the night and see us through to the morning, safely and in good health.
Havdalah is a service marking the end of Shabbat. It consists of blessings over wine, fire and sweet fragrances, as well as over the concept of separation (havdalah). The latter compares the separation between Shabbat and the days of the week to that between light and darkness.
Hitbodedut is the Hebrew word for meditation. A practice that is attributed to the prophets and to other highly spiritual individuals after them, it has become popularized through the works and followers of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.
Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Shabbat) is a service developed by the Kabbalists of Safed in the 16th century. It is composed primarily of Psalms, but includes other elements. These include the famous hymn, Lecha Dodi (Come, my beloved), which was written there at that time.
Kaddish is an Aramaic prayer concluding a prayer service or a part of it. When it was written, Aramaic was the spoken language and understood better than Hebrew. It describes God's holiness and greatness and calls for the recognition of God's eternal rule by all of mankind.
Kavanah is the word for the focused mindset recommended for prayer, i.e. of being before God and of what one is saying. While Jewish Law recognizes the legitimacy of prayer with minimal awareness, it requires knowledge of what one is saying in the first blessing of the Amidah.
Kiddush (Sanctification) is the ceremonial prayer before the main meals on Shabbat and holidays. It generally includes a blessing on wine and at least one paragraph about the holiness of the day. The main kiddush is said at night to introduce holiness to (i.e. sanctify) the day.
Lecha Dodi ("Come, My Beloved") is a liturgical poem written by 16th-century Safed kabbalist, Shlomo Alkabetz, and the centerpiece of the Kabbalat Shabbat service. With deeply mystical undertones, it refers to God as the Jews' companion who will join them to greet the Shabbat.
Recited by some Jews in the morning service, Mah Tovu (How good) opens Balaam's classic praise of the Jews, which declares (Numbers 24:5), "How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel!" Balaam was a gentile prophet hired to curse the Jews, but who blessed them instead.
Moses' Prayer consists of the many times that he successfully intercedes on behalf of others. He does this to deflect God's anger at the sins of the entire people or of specific individuals like Aaron and Miriam. Moses appeals to God's attribute of mercy, using various arguments.
Moses' Prayer for Himself was the prayer at the end of his life that God cancel His decision not to allow him to cross the Jordan into Israel together with his people. Its conclusion - described in Deuteronomy - comes when God tells Moses that He will still not allow this.
Motzi is the blessing made before eating bread. Its words recognize God as the one "who brings out (motzi) bread from the ground." Jewish law regards bread as man's most important food and seeks to sanctify its consumption by surrounding it with various religious practices.
Mourner's Kaddish is the practice of mourners to recite kaddish at the beginning and end of prayer services and other occasions. By this testimony of their faith in God, mourners are thought to be helping the souls of the dead to whom they are dedicating their recitation.
Niggun is a melody, generally unaccompanied by words. In the Bible, it is often associated with uplifting or calming properties. Its spiritual potential was reclaimed in Chasidut, such that one of the common duties of a Chasidic rebbe is to sing, and sometimes even compose, melodies.
Praise of God is the proclamation of appreciation directed to God in various situations and contexts. Many such praises are concentrated in the book of Psalms, but they are found in other books of the Bible as well as in subsequent religious texts.
The Prayer of Abraham was his plea to God not to destroy the evil city of Sodom. This was a manifestation of his great loving kindness towards all people, which brought him to challenge God about His intentions there.
The Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Prayers are based upon the structure of the daily prayers. Like on most special days, there is an additional service in the morning, and Yom Kippur has a fifth service as well. Alongside, many psalms, prayers and hymns are also added.
Selichot are penitential prayers and hymns recited before and during the Ten Days of Repentance that extend from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. Its central components are the confession of sins (vidui) and the recitation of God's thirteen attributes of mercy (Exodus 34:6-7).
Shabbat Prayers add psalms, hymns, and an additional service to the structure of the daily prayers. Sections of the Torah are read in the morning and afternoon and a section of the Prophets is read only in the morning. There is also a unique service welcoming it at night.
Shacharit is the morning service. It consists of four main sections: Preparatory prayers and readings; Shema and its blessings, the Shemoneh Esrei; and the concluding sections. The Torah is read on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as on Shabbat and most special days.
The Shema, Judaism's most famous prayer, is actually not a prayer at all. Rather it is a declaration of God's unity and other central doctrines of Judaism. It involves reciting three passages from the Torah, one of which is interrupted by an ancient non-Biblical phrase.
Shemoneh Esrei (18) is the number of blessings originally arranged for the daily standing prayer (amidah). The prayer consists of three parts: Praise; national and personal requests; and thanksgiving. While the first and last sections usually remain the same, the middle can vary.
The Sheva Brachot (Seven blessings) were established to celebrate a marriage, invoking the happy fulfillment of God's plan through marriage. They are recited at the wedding itself and at most festive meals eaten by first-time brides and grooms during their first week of marriage.
Tashlich (Casting away) is a practice of reciting certain prayers alongside water on Rosh Hashanah afternoon. The prayers ask God to cast away the Jews' sins, just as they are symbolically shaking out their garments and casting their sins to the depths of the waters.
V'ahavta (And you shall love) refers to the verses (Deuteronomy 6:5-9) that come after Shema Yisrael in the Torah and hence form an integral part of the Shema. It relates the commandment of total love of God and how to preserve this love in ourselves and in future generations.
Vidui is confession of sins. It is said at certain times, such as Yom Kippur and right before one's death. There are different lists of sins that are generally said - the longest of which, by Rabbeinu Nissim of Bavel, includes hundreds of sins - but it can also be improvised.