Passover Dictionary

Wondering what all those Passover terms mean? Check out NJOP’s quick and easy Passover dictionary:

Chametz — Leaven and any product in which wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye come in contact with water for 18 minutes or longer (without kneading or manipulating), is called chametz.

Charoset — A tasty mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples that represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to build Pharaoh’s cities (recipes may vary by community).

Dayenu — One of the most famous of all Seder songs, Dayenu praises G-d for the many miracles and gifts He gave the Jews by stressing after each great miracle, “Dayenu – It would have been enough!”

Gebruchts — Foods containing matzah with liquid. Numerous communities have accepted upon themselves a stringency not to eat gebruchts for fear that additional fermentation may occur when the matzah and liquid are combined.

Haggadah — From the Hebrew infinitive l’haggid, to tell, the Haggadah is the special Passover guide book from which Jews fulfill the commandment of telling the story of the Exodus.

Hallel — Hallel is a collection of Psalms that are recited on the festivals and Rosh Chodesh (the new month).

Kitniyot — During the holiday of Passover, Ashekenazim (Jews of Western and Eastern European ancestry) follow the Rabbinic decree to not eat kitniyot, foods such as rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds.

Maot Chitim — It is customary for every city to supply the poor with their Passover needs from a communal fund called Maot Chitim.

Maror — Bitter herbs, usually fresh ground horseradish or romaine lettuce leaves, which are eaten during the Seder.

Matzah — Unleavened bread that is permissible to eat during Passover. To be Kosher for Passover, the matzah must be made in under 18 minutes. Jews eat matzah at Passover to remind them of the unleavened bread which the Jews hastily took with them as they left Egypt.

Matzah Shmura or Shmura Matzah — Literally “guarded matzah,” shmura matzah has been specially supervised since before the wheat was cut so that it did not come in contact with chametz. This practice is based on Exodus 12:17, “And you shall guard the matzot…”. It is best to use shmura matzah for the Seder.

Passover — The English name of the holiday derives from the fact that G-d “passed-over” the Jewish homes during the plague of the first born.

Pesach — The Hebrew name of the holiday refers to the Pesach offering, the Pascal Lamb that was an integral part of the Seder during the time of the Temple. During the actual exodus, G-d commanded the Jewish people to take a lamb into their homes, slaughter it five days later, and put the blood on the doorposts of their homes to indicate that it was a Jewish home.

Seder — The festive Passover meal is referred to as the Seder. The word Seder actually means order, and the feast is called by this name to indicate that there is a certain order that should be followed.