If you walk down the street in a Jewish neighborhood anytime
between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, 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
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.