“what’s that term mean?”

aishish: kiruv-y, characterized by cool rabbis who ideally are or once were in a rock band. Also, hip on the surface but underneath there is a definite current of “we have all the answers and this is what Judaism is defined as.” (Or: the adopted son of Kmukamtch, the Klamath sun god.)

angry davening: davening angrily

apikoros: heretic

artscroll: the #1 source for not only davening and studying needs, but also halachic answers. Basically taking over the world.

avenue J: a place in flatbush east of Coney Island Ave. and northwest of Kings Highway which has many kosher restaurants, wig stores, sukkah stores, a Walgreens with Hebrew on it, wedding gown stores (including a place called “Tznius Princess”), and a delightful mix of Jews and gentiles. Everything closes for shabbos, except for “Banana King” obviously.

b”h: baruch hashem, said when you’re glad about something. But mostly said sarcastically.

black hat: guys who wear black hats. In flatbush, they seem to coexist with no-hats, but I guess they’re seen as extra frum and maybe a bit snooty or something. I don’t see the big difference myself, but anyway they’re mostly characteristic of the yeshivish and chasidish guys rather than the MO guys. Black hats can be casually removed in certain informal situations, and some who you wouldn’t peg as black hat might actually own one to be used in formal situations.

boro park stare (BPS): when you get stared at by small children while you’re walking down the street because you’re wearing colors or something. Happens in boro park but may or may not also happen in flatbush, but you have to really look either out of town or like you’re trying too hard. I can wear my MTV shirt and pantaloons and not get bps’ed in flatbush just cause I don’t look like I care and they’re used to gentiles and other things like short skirts. It’s really just the out of town stare if you ask me.

BT: baal teshuva (see: FFB)

chas v’shalom: “heaven forbid!” Like b”h, said sarcastically more often than not.

dafka: especially, specifically (I still don’t know how to use this word even though I heard it a million times)

deep brooklyn: everything that’s not williamsburg.

drisha: a women’s “jewish learning institution” on the upper west side but also has co-ed lectures, frequently partners with hadar, and is characterized by a “non-denominational” (but really, a MO/hadar-type) stance on the blurry line between academia and Torah. Termed a “women’s kollel” by some participants.

emet v’emunah: the 1988 Conservative statement of principles. It has never been rewritten, and is characterized by taking two or more positions on every topic.

FFB: Frum From Birth. This is kind of a relative term. If you’re raised MO, and stay MO, I guess you’d be called FFB by MO standards. If you’re raised MO and then become, like, yeshivish, then I guess you’d be considered BT. Cute!

flatbush: an area in brooklyn between kensington and, like, sheepshead bay. As far as I’m concerned, flatbush consists solely of midwood. (See also: Avenue J.)

frank: a type of talmud dictionary (See also: Impractical Talmud Dictionary)

gerishe: a convert or convert-in-progress who is basically just a representative of whatever they heard from their rabbi. Worse, whatever they read in ArtScroll. Good at spitting out these or those halachos, bad at thinking for themselves. See the world in a very cut and dry manner. That’s what got them through the horror of conversion, after all. (See: Gerishe Converts.)

hadar: an egalitarian yeshiva on the upper west side. known for social activism and pairing with uri l’tzedek. known for girls who wear tzitzis and lead davening.

hefker: lit. ownerless property, can be used for many things, e.g. “Whose donuts are these? Are they hefker?”

heter: permission to do something, like not fasting

HHD’s: high holidays, or high holy days for you grammarians out there

jastrow: a type of talmud dictionary

kiruv: bringing secular jews into the light using any means necessary, usually done by aish or chabad I guess although I’ve never actually been to chabad. often involves free things. Birthright is probably the most popular, even though it’s not true kiruv cause it’s not about religion.

koren: a publishing company that makes siddurs, and now talmuds also. Made for the MO market, although if you ask me they are a step above artscroll in a variety of ways.

maine: my go-to place for when I threaten to pack it all up and leave (see also: Portland, Maine)

masechta: a volume of Talmud

MO: Modern Orthodox. Wears colors and uses tav. Probably lives on the UWS. I don’t know how this happens, so I’m just going to add “probably has monayz.”

mutar: acceptable, as in “it’s mutar for women to wear tefillin”

OTD: off the derech

out of town: not from brooklyn. everyone looks the same here so I’m pretty sure all you have to do to look out of town is be half gentile like me. There are other signs that you’re from out of town, such as not being completely uptight.

patur aval assur: A category of obligation meaning “exempt, but not really.”

perek: chapter

piyut: a poem written in later times, like the 17th century and whatnot, and the hhd’s davening is infamously composed of like 99% piyutim.

roll in the snow: some kind of custom to cure homosexuality, done in medieval times and possibly in modern times

SBNR: “spiritual but not religious”

sheitel lady: a stereotype I made up of a yeshivish lady with five children and defines herself as “a mother and housewife first.” Believes strongly in the traditional roles of men and women. Wears a sheitel.

shemspeed: a really neat record label popular with ortho hipsters and otd hassids who go to chulent, my roommate called them “tuna bagels” but I’m pretty sure she’s the only one who says that. They mostly do hip hop and remixes and stuff. (See also: y-love, describe, diwon, ephryme.)

spectrum: amount of gayness, as in “I wonder if he’s on the spectrum”

sugya: a section of gemara, I’ve been told you can make up what amount of text actually constitutes a sugya

UWS: upper west side

W&M: William & Mary. A school/tourist attraction in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Specialty areas: American History, Science. Not specialty areas: Jewish Studies. Upside: Ranked #6 public university by US News; #4 by Forbes.


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