Jewish greetings

There are several Jewish and Hebrew greetings, farewells, and phrases that are used in Judaism, and in Jewish and Hebrew-speaking communities around the world. Even outside Israel, Hebrew is an important part of Jewish life.[1] Many Jews, even if they do not speak Hebrew fluently, will know several of these greetings (most are Hebrew, and among Ashkenazim some are Yiddish).[1]

Le'Shana Tova Tikatevu, greeting card from Montevideo, 1932.

ShabbatEdit

For the Sabbath, there are several greetings that Jews use to greet one another.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Shabbat shalom שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם Peaceful Sabbath [ʃaˈbat ʃaˈlom] Hebrew Used any time on Shabbat, especially at the end of a Shabbat service. Used also preceding Shabbat almost like "have a good weekend."[2]
Gut Shabbes
גוּט שַׁבָּת Good Sabbath [ɡʊt ˈʃabəs] Yiddish Used any time on Shabbat, especially in general conversation or when greeting people.[2]
Shavua tov שָׁבוּעַ טוֹב Good week [ʃaˈvu.a tov] Hebrew Used on Saturday nights (after Havdalah) and even on Sundays "shavua tov" is used to wish someone a good coming week.[2]
Gut Voch גוט וואָך Good week Yiddish Same as above, but Yiddish
Buen shabat בוען שבת Good sabbath [buen ʃabat] Judaeo-Spanish
Sabado dulse i bueno Sweet and good sabbath Judaeo-Spanish
Boas entradas de Saba Good entry to the sabbath Portuguese or Judeo-Portuguese

HolidaysEdit

For different chagim and Yom Tov there are different expressions used.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Chag sameach חַג שָׂמֵחַ Happy holiday [χaɡ saˈme.aχ] Hebrew Used as a greeting for the holidays, can insert holiday name in the middle; e.g. "chag Chanukah sameach".[2] Also, for Passover, "chag kasher v'same'ach" (חַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ‎) meaning wishing a happy and kosher(-for-Passover) holiday.[2]
Moed tov
Moadim l'simcha
מועד טובֿ
מועדים לשמחה
A good festival period
A happy festival period
[ˈmo.ed tov
mo.aˈdim le simˈχa]
Hebrew Used as a greeting during the chol ha-moed (intermediate days) of the Passover and Sukkot holidays.
Gut Yontiv גוט יום־טובֿ Good Yom Tov [ɡʊt ˈjɔntɪv] Yiddish Used as a greeting for the Yom Tov holidays.[2] Often spelled Gut Yontif or Gut Yontiff in English transliteration.
Gut'n Mo'ed גוטן מועד Good chol ha-moed (intermediate days) [ˈɡʊtn̩ ˈmɔɪɛd] Yiddish As above (as a greeting during the chol ha-moed (intermediate days) of the Passover and Sukkot holidays), but Yiddish/English
L'shanah tovah or Shana Tova לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה [To a] good year [leʃaˈna toˈva] Hebrew Used as a greeting during Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe, Also used, simply "shanah tovah" (שָׁנָה טוֹבָה‎), meaning "a good year", or "shanah tovah u'metukah" (שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה‎) meaning "a good and sweet year".[2] The phrase is short for "l'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu" (לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִכָּתֵבוּ וְתֵּחָתֵמוּ‎), meaning "may you be inscribed and sealed (in the Book of Life) for a good year".[3] A shorter version is often used: "ktiva ve chatima tova" (כְּתִיבָה וְחֲתִימָה טוֹבָה‎), meaning "(have a) good signature (in the Book of Life)" and literally "good inscribing and signing".[3] In Israel, also used during Passover due to the renewal of spring, the Exodus story and the new beginning of being freed from slavery, and because it says in the bible itself, as to the month of Nissan, the month of Passover, that "this month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you." (Sh'mot 12:1-3) Nissan is the Persian name which was used by Jews in Babylonian exile and replaced the Biblical first month called Aviv. For these reasons the greeting has wide usage in Israel near Passover.
Tzom kal צוֹם קַל Easy fast [tsom kal] Hebrew Used to wish someone an easy Yom Kippur fast. In some English-speaking communities today, the greeting "[have] an easy and meaningful fast" is used.[4]
G'mar Chatima Tovah גְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה May you be sealed for good [in the Book of Life] Hebrew pronunciation: [gmaʁ χati.ma to.va] Hebrew Used to wish someone well for and on Yom Kippur. Tradition teaches that Jews' fate is written on Rosh Hashanah and is sealed on Yom Kippur.[5]
Tizku Leshanim Rabot - Ne'imot veTovot תזכו לשנים רבות - נעימות וטובות May you merit many pleasant and good years [tizˈku leʃaˈnim raˈbot - ne.iˈmot vetoˈvot] Hebrew Used in Sephardic communities to wish someone well at the end of a holiday.

Greetings and farewellsEdit

There are several greetings and good-byes used in Hebrew to say hello and farewell to someone.

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Shalom שָׁלוֹם Hello, goodbye, peace [ʃaˈlom] Hebrew A Hebrew greeting, based on the root for "completeness". Literally meaning "peace", shalom is used for both hello and goodbye.[6] A cognate with the Arabic-language salaam.
Shalom aleichem שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם Peace be upon you [ʃaˈlom ʔaleˈχem] Hebrew This form of greeting was traditional among the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. The appropriate response is "Aleichem Shalom" (עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם) or "Upon you be peace." (cognate with the Arabic-language "assalamu alaikum" meaning "The peace [of ] be upon you.)"
L'hitraot לְהִתְרָאוֹת Goodbye, lit. "to meet" [lehitʁaˈʔot] Hebrew Perhaps the most common Hebrew farewell in Israel (English "bye" is also commonly used). Sometimes shortened to לְהִתְ ("l'heet").

PhrasesEdit

These are Hebrew phrases used in Jewish communities both inside and outside of Israel.[1]

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Mazal tov / Mazel tov מַזָּל טוֹב good luck/congratulations [maˈzal tov]
[ˈmazəl tɔv]
Hebrew/Yiddish Used to mean congratulations. Used in Hebrew (mazal tov) or Yiddish. Used on to indicate good luck has occurred, ex. birthday, bar mitzvah, a new job, or an engagement.[1] Also shouted out at Jewish weddings when the groom (or both fiances) stomps on a glass. It is also used when someone accidentally breaks a glass or a dish.[1] However, NOT normally used on news of a pregnancy, where it is replaced by "b'sha'ah tovah" ("may it happen at a good time/in the proper time").[7]
B'karov etzlech (f.)
B'karov etzlecha (m.)
בְּקָרוֹב אֶצְלְךָ Soon so shall it be by you [bekaˈʁov ʔetsˈleχ]
[bekaˈʁov ʔetsleˈχa]
Hebrew Used in response to "mazal tov"[1]
Im Yirtzeh HaShem אִם יִרְצֶה הַשֵּׁם God willing [ɪmˈjɪʁtsə.aʃɛm] Hebrew Used by religious Jews when speaking of the future and wanting God's help.
B'ezrat HaShem בְּעֶזְרָת הַשֵּׁם With God's help [beʔezˈʁat haˈʃem] Hebrew Used by religious Jews when speaking of the future and wanting God's help (similar to "God willing").[1]
Yishar koach (or ShKoiAch)[8] יְישַׁר כֹּחַ You should have increased strength [jiˈʃaʁ ˈko.aχ] Hebrew Meaning "good for you", "way to go", or "more power to you". Often used in synagogue after someone has received an honour. The proper response is "baruch tiheyeh" (m)/brucha teeheyi (f) meaning "you shall be blessed."[1][9]
Chazak u'varuch חֵזָק וּבָרוךְ Be strong and blessed [χaˈzak uvaˈʁuχ] Hebrew Used in Sephardi synagogues after an honour. The response is "chazak ve'ematz" ("be strong and have courage"). It is the Sephardi counterpart pair to the Ashkenaz ShKoiAch and Boruch TihYeh.
Nu? ?נו So? [nu] Yiddish A Yiddish interjection used to inquire about how everything went.[1]
Kol ha'ka'vod כֹּל הַכָּבוֹד All of the honour [kol hakaˈvod] Hebrew Used for a job well done.[1]
L'chaim לְחַיִּים To life [leχaˈjim]
[ləˈχajm]
Hebrew/Yiddish Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent of saying "cheers" when doing a toast[1]
Gesundheit געזונטהייט Health [ɡəˈzʊnthajt] Yiddish Yiddish (and German) equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes. Also sometimes "tsu gezunt".[2]
Lavriut (or Livriut) לבריאות To Health [livʁiˈʔut] Hebrew Hebrew equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes.[9]
Refuah Shlemah רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה Get well soon. Lit. full recovery [] Hebrew Used when someone is sick or injured.[10] Also see related daily prayer addition.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jacobs, Jill Suzanne. "Speaking of Favorite Hebrew Expressions". Dummies.com. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Expressions and Greetings". Judaism 101. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Rosh ha-Shana (Jewish New Year)". Hebrew: Virtual Ulpan. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  4. ^ My Jewish Learning. "How to Greet Someone on Yom Kippur". My Jewish Learning. 70/Faces Media. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  5. ^ Staff, Jspace. "G'mar Chatimah Tovah from Jspace". Jspace. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  6. ^ Jacobs, Jill Suzanne. "Hebrew For Dummies". Dummies.com. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  7. ^ Daniels, Sariya. "B'Sha'ah Tovah". The Jewish Magazine. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  8. ^ contraction of the two words
  9. ^ a b "Jewish Holiday Greetings". Patheos.com. Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ "refua shlema - Jewish English Lexicon". Retrieved 26 March 2019.