top of page

Glossary of Terms

Please note: If this list is missing a term you didn't understand, be it on my site or otherwise, please email me and I will be glad to respond and likely add it to this list.

הדור מצוה - Hidur Mitzvah 

The principle of making a mitzvah beautiful includes using a silver cup rather than paper, a beautiful cloth to cover challah rather than a tissue or napkin.  Nonetheless the principle specifies that fulfilling this principle can be exaggerated to the point of gaudiness and can never interfere with one's ability financially to provide for the essential needs of a family, i.e., clothing, shelter, food, etc.

כוס יין  - Kiddush Cup

Any cup, even paper, can be used to fulfill the mitzvah of making 'kiddish' the prayer fro wine that precedes the naming liturgy at a bris.  That said, the principle of Hidur Mitzvah (see next) applies here.  

Kippah/Kippot (plural)/Yarmulke (Yiddish)

Head covering - Traditionally, all men have their heads covered during the brit and Seudat Mitzvah (feast).  Woman are welcome to and many women in progressive/liberal Jewish movements, take upon themselves the same garb and mitzvoth (religious obligations) traditionally only required of men.


כיסא של אליהו  Kiseh shel Eliyahu -Throne of Elijah 

In the Book of Kings, Elijah is known as the angel of the covenant.  As such, Elijah is thought to be seated to the right of the sandek at every bris.

Kvatter and Kvatterin

An Ashkenazic custom, the female usher (kvatterin) takes baby from his mother and hands him to the male usher (kvatter) who ultimately places him on the pillow on the lap of the sandek​.

מנין - Minyan 

It is not required but preferable that a minyan be present for the ceremony. 


מוהל - Mohel

A Jewish practitioner of circumcision.  Trained by other mohalim, or medical and religious professionals. 


מוציא - Motzi

Literally, motzi, translates to 'take out' or 'take from'.  At a bris, the person honored with making 'motzi' or 'hamotzi' is the asked to make the blessing that acknowledges G-d as the One Who brings forth bread from the earth. 

סנדק Sandek

The sandek is the highest honor given at a bris. Read more about the history of this role and the possible origins of the term 'sandek' at wikipedia.


The Prayershawl with four corners.  Tied to each corner are tzitzit wound and tied in a manner that holds much symbolism and spirituality.  The father and Sandek(s) are encouraged to wear their tallis; others may if they desire.

Additional Glossary of Terms at Judaism 101 website - not necessarily related to Brit Milah  click here

bottom of page