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What Is Kiddush?

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Kiddush Genti and Hyers/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Definition:

Kiddush is the name of a ritual that involves reciting blessings over a cup of wine. Kiddush takes place at the beginning of Shabbat and before Jewish festival meals. It is also performed during synagogue Shabbat services so that anyone who is away from home and spending time in the community will have the opportunity to hear Kiddush.

Usually the head of the house will recite Kiddush over a cup of wine and then everyone present will take a sip of the wine. In the synagogue setting the rabbi will usually recite the blessing and then the cantor or another appointed person will take a sip from the cup.

Meaning of Kiddush

In talmudic times wine was a daily beverage so the kiddush blessing was introduced to distinguish the drinking of wine on shabbat or during festivals as different from regular days. In this way it reminds Jews about the sanctity of these days. "Kiddush" literally means "sanctification." An artistically decorated goblet is used to hold the wine as yet another way to sanctify the act of drinking wine.

 

Pronunciation: key-doosh (some people pronounce it keh-dish)

Examples: Kiddush is recited over a goblet of wine before the Shabbat meal begins.

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