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

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, some are Yiddish).[1]

Shabbat

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

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Shabbat shalom ? ? Peaceful Sabbath [?a'bat ?a'lom] 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
Good Shabbos
? ?
Good Shabbos
Good Sabbath [t '?ab?s] Yiddish/English Used any time on Shabbat, especially in general conversation or when greeting people.[2]
Gut Voch
Shavua tov

?
Good week [?a'vu.a tov] Yiddish/Hebrew Used on Saturday nights (after Havdalah) and even on Sundays "shavua tov" is used to wish someone a good coming week.[2]

Holidays

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

Phrase Hebrew script Translation Pronunciation Language Explanation
Chag sameach ? Happy holiday [?a? sa'me.a?] 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" ( ? ) meaning wishing a happy and kosher(-for-Passover) holiday.[2]
Moed tov
Moadim l'simcha
? ?
A good festival period
A happy festival period
['mo.ed tov
mo.a'dim l.sim'?a]
Hebrew Used as a greeting during the chol ha-moed (intermediate days) of the Passover and Sukkot holidays.
Gut Yontiv Good Yom Tov [t 'j?nt?v] Yiddish/English Used as a greeting for the Yom Tov holidays.[2] Often spelled Gut Yontif or Gut Yontiff.
L'shanah tovah or Shana Tova To a good year [le?a'na to'va] Hebrew Used as a greeting during Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe, Also used, simply "shanah tovah" ( ), meaning "a good year", or "shanah tovah u'metukah" ( ?) meaning "a good and sweet year".[2] The phrase is short for "l'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu" ( ? ), 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" ( ? ), 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 is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year." (Exodus 12:1-3) Nissan is in fact the seventh month, but for these reasons the greeting has wide usage in Israel near Passover.
Tzom kal ? Easy fast [tsom kal] Hebrew Used to wish someone well for Yom Kippur. The word "happy" is not used because Yom Kippur is meant to be somber holiday, not a happy one.[2]
G'mar Chatima Tovah ? May you be sealed for good [in the Book of Life] [] Hebrew Used to wish someone well for and on Yom Kippur. Tradition teaches that our fate is written on Rosh Hashanah and is sealed on Yom Kippur.[4]
Tizku Leshanim Rabot - Ne'imot veTovot ? ? - May you merit many pleasant and good years [tizku lanim rabot - n?imot v?tovot] Hebrew Used in Sephardic communities to wish someone well for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Greetings and farewells

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 ? Hello, goodbye, peace [?a'lom] Hebrew A Hebrew greeting, based on the root for "completeness". Literally meaning "peace", shalom is used for both hello and goodbye.[5] A cognate with the Arabic-language salaam.
Shalom aleichem ? Peace be upon you [?a'lom ?a'lejxem] Hebrew This form of greeting was traditional among the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. The appropriate response is "Aleichem Shalom" ( ?) or "Upon you be peace." (cognate with the Arabic-language "assalamu alaikum" meaning "The peace [of ] be upon you.)"
L'hitraot Goodbye, lit. "to meet" [lehit?a'?ot] Hebrew Perhaps the most common Hebrew farewell in Israel (English "bye" is also commonly used).

Phrases

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 ? good luck/congratulations [ma'zal tov]
['maz?l t?v]
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").[6]
B'karov etzlech (f.)
B'karov etzlecha (m.)
Soon so shall it be by you [beka'?ov ?ets'le?]
[beka'?ov ?etsle'?a]
Hebrew Used in response to "mazal tov"[1]
B'ezrat HaShem ? ? With God's help [be?ez'?at ha'?em] Hebrew Used by religious Jews when speaking of the future and wanting God's help (similar to "God willing").[1]
YeYasher koach (or ShKoiAch)[7] ? You should have increased strength [ji'?a? 'ko.a?] 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][8]
Chazak u'varuch Be strong and blessed [?a'zak uva'?u?] 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? So? [nu] Yiddish A Yiddish interjection used to inquire about how everything went.[1]
Kol ha'ka'vod ? All of the honour [kol haka'vod] Hebrew Used for a job well done.[1]
L'chaim To life [le?a'jim]
[l?'?ajm]
Hebrew/Yiddish Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent of saying "cheers" when doing a toast[1]
Gesundheit ? Health ['z?nthajt] Yiddish Yiddish (and German) equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes. Also sometimes "tsu gezunt".[2]
Lavriut (or Livriut) ? To Health [liv?i'?ut] Hebrew Hebrew equivalent of saying "bless you" when someone sneezes.[8]
Refuah Sheleimah Get well soon. Lit. full recovery [] Hebrew Used when someone is sick or injured.[9] Also see related daily prayer addition.

See also

References

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

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