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How to Greet Others on Shabbat

How to Greet Others on Shabbat

Shabbat Shalom or Gut Shabbos

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If you walk down the street in a Jewish neighborhood anytime between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon,1 you will notice Jews of all stripes wishing each other a peaceful, enjoyable Shabbat. In fact, as early as Wednesday, you can bid farewell with wishes for a good Shabbat.

But what to say? As always, different Jews have different ways of doing things.

The traditional Yiddish greeting of Ashkenazi Jews is “Gut Shabbos,” which means “Good Sabbath.” This greeting is used in place of both “hello” and “goodbye.” However, when used in parting, it is modified slightly to “Ah gutten Shabbos.” If you cannot remember the Yiddish nuances, just say “Good Shabbos” every time, and you’ll be in very good company.

This greeting is preferred by chassidic and traditional Jews of European descent.

The Hebrew salutation, used by Sephardim of Eastern descent and those who favor modern Hebrew, is “Shabbat shalom,” which means “Sabbath [of] peace.”

(Just to add to the mix, there is also the Aramaic version of “Shabbata tava,” “Good Sabbath,” that appears occasionally in writing. No need to memorize this for when you meet an Aramaic Jew, because there are none.)

On Saturday night, we wish each other “Shavua tov” or “Gut voch, both of which mean “Good week” in Hebrew and Yiddish respectively.

If you want to greet someone but are not sure what to say, just let them greet you first and then repeat their greeting back to them. Works every time.

FOOTNOTES
1. As evening draws near, we no longer wish each other a good Sabbath, as this time of Sabbath is not as good as the rest. Why so? It was this time of day that our leaders, Moses, Joseph and King David, passed away.
Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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