Quick & Kosher Glossary

 

Kugel

 

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Yiddish) The essential Jewish carb. More like an English pudding than anything else, it can fill you for three days. It’s a Shabbos classic, so some people have an insatiable addiction to it. It used to be made of either potatoes or noodles, but now it has developed into a score of varieties, from apple kugel and pineapple kugel to vegetable kugel, to you-name-it kugel.


 

Latkes

 

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(Yiddish) Potato pancakes fried in oil, customary on Chanukah, but so good you may add them to your repertoire year-round. The oil is a reminder of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, when a small jar of oil meant to last for one day miraculously lasted for eight. But I bet these won’t last more than eight minutes. They’re usually eaten straight from the pan, with family and guests standing over you as you fry. You’re lucky if you get them to the table.


 

Mama Loshen

 

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(Yiddish) “Mother tongue”, i.e. Yiddish, but somehow the term seems a lot warmer in the original. It reminds you of lullabies, fresh butter and big family gatherings.


 

Mazel

 

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(Hebrew) [Good] Fortune, a little helping hand from the One above. A mazel is not always good, but no one ever talks about bad mazel. At worst, one has ‘no mazel.”


 

Potchke

 

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(Yiddish) Fuss. As in, “I never thought I would want to potchke in the kitchen.” It’s one of those interesting words that’s both a verb and a noun, as in “I wouldn’t try cooking that; it’s such a potchke.”


 

Sephardic Jews

 

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(Hebrew) Jews whose ancestry hails from countries south of Spain. (The Hebrew word ‘Sepharad” means ‘Spain.”) They could be from Syria, Portugal, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Israel. Definitely not from Philadelphia. Jews from Eastern Europe are referred to as Ashkenazic.


 

Shabbos

 

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(Hebrew) The day to disconnect from your workday chores, worries and mundane activities. It’s the day to recharge spiritual batteries through praying, studying Torah, napping and of course, eating well. A great family experience.


 

Shtetl

 

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(Yiddish) A really small village in Eastern Europe. If you blink when you ride through it, you’ll miss it. Since most shtetlach were destroyed during the Holocaust, the word has come to mean any Jewish enclave where religious Jews go about their lives. It’s a warm, homey place, where everybody knows everybody’s shtick.
Definitely not Philadelphia.


 

Shtick

 

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(Yiddish) (As in ‘not my shtick”) So not my thing; not my style.


 

Shul

 

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(Yiddish) Synagogue. Somehow the Yiddish term is far more popular, maybe because ‘synagogue” sounds so very Latin. Shul actually means ‘school” in Yiddish and German, and evokes the use of the shul as a place to gather and to learn Torah at all hours of the day and night, as well as a place where religious services are held.


 

Fancy Schmancy

 

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(English-Yiddish) Posh; Upper East Side; absurdly elegant. Anything can be fancy schmancy: your outfit, your mansion, your nails, your poodle.


 

Chamin

 

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See: Chulent


 

Sufganiot

 

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(Hebrew) Fried, powdered and jelly-filled doughnuts typically eaten on Chanukah or at your local kosher Dunkin


 

OU Kosher Certification

 

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OU (Orthodox Union) Kosher is the world’s largest and most widely recognized kosher certification agency, certifying more than 500,000 products produced in over 6,000 plants located in 80 countries around the world.

The OU, termed a “coveted seal of approval” by The New York Times, is one of the world’s best-known trademarks. Comparing it to the UL®, Forbes magazine wrote, “If you want to know your food is kosher, you can look for the Orthodox Union’s OU symbol.”


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