Glossary for Double Crossing


Double Crossing is a work of historical fiction.  In order to give the feel of another time and place, I sometimes used words in Yiddish or mentioned Jewish customs you might not be familiar with.  To assist you, I am presenting a brief glossary of terms that appeared in the book, with explanations.  If you find something that is unclear in Double Crossing and it is not explained here, please let me know so that I can add it. 

Chapter One
Czar  Also spelled “Tsar.” The title of the absolute ruler of Russia from 1547 – 1917.
Russian – Japanese War Was fought between 1904-1905 over disputed territory in Manchuria.
Bobbe Yiddish. Grandmother. Pronounced “Bubby”
Shabbas Yiddish. Sabbath.
Shul Yiddish. Synagogue, the Jewish house of prayer
Challah Hebrew/Yiddish. The name for the type of bread baked for the Sabbath. Unlike the coarse bread eaten during the week, a challah is made with eggs and white flour.
Cholent A traditional food made with a mixture of ingredients like potatoes, meat, barley, onions and other ingredients. It was cooked on Friday and kept warm to be eaten on the Sabbath, when it was forbidden to light a fire for cooking.
Tzimmis A sweet dish made from carrots and raisins, often eaten at the Sabbath meal.
Passover The Jewish holiday celebrating freedom from slavery and the Exodus from Egypt
Kosher Food eaten by religious Jews must conform to a set of religious laws. For a more detailed explanation, click here.
Nu A Yiddish expression roughly meaning “well” or “so”
Cossacks The name given to parts of the population of Eastern Europe and Russia. They were excellent warriors and the men served in military regiments under the Czar. They were greatly feared by the Jews of the region, for they often attacked Jewish settlements with tacit governmental support.
Pogrom Russian. A violent attack on a particular religious or ethnic group, often an attack on Jews.
Chapter 2
Simchas Torah A Jewish holiday celebrating the conclusion of a year’s reading of the Torah and the beginning of the new year’s reading. The Torah scroll is taken out of the Holy Ark and passed from hand to hand in a dance of joy. (Only males can touch the scroll).
Cheder Yiddish/Hebrew for “room.” It refers to the one room school where elementary aged boys learned to read and write.
Yeshiva Yiddish. A more advanced school for the study of the Torah and the Talmud for male students who wanted to become scholars or religious leaders.
Reb Yiddish. Rabbi.
Side curls Orthodox Jewish males follow a religious commandment not to cut their sideburns. The hair grows long and is usually wound in a curl and tucked behind the ear.
Chapter 3
Tref Non-kosher food like pork. Click for a fuller explanation.
Yom Kippur The Jewish Day of Atonement for sins committed during the previous year. Religious Jews fast from sunset to evening of the next day.
Chapter 4
Kugel Pudding usually made with noodles or potatoes
Meydele Yiddish. Girl. Used as a term of endearment, like “honey” or “sweetie.”
Gefilte Fish balls made of chopped fish
Chapter 5
Krupnik Barley
Schnapps Brandy made from fruit with no sugar added
Chapter 6
Cholera A disease. Here used as a curse word.
Rubles The currency of Russia
Mitzvah Hebrew. Good deed. Also commandment. See explanation.
Chapter 7
Pale An area of western Russia in which Russian Jews were permitted to live under the1791 decree of Catherine the Great. Jews needed special permits to live outside this area.
Chapter 9
Frau German. Mistress. A courteous way to address an older woman.
Kvass Russian. A fermented drink with a low alcoholic content, made from grain or fruit.
Chapter 10
Mandelbrot A cookie made with almonds
Chapter 11
Kashrut Hebrew. Kosher.
Chapter 15
Zlotys Polish currency. Used here to mean “a few pennies.”
Medinah Hebrew. Country.
Latkes Pancakes. A traditional food eaten at Hanukah.
Chapter 18
Consumption Tuberculosis
Yarmulke Small cap worn by religious male Jews at all times
Chapter 19
Baal Shem Tov A rabbi who lived in the 18th century and founded the Hassidic Movement
Chapter 20
Phylacteries Two small leather boxes containing prayers worn by religious Jews while praying