What Is the Kiddush?

Sanctifying Sabbath and holidays, with special blessings over wine.

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Kiddush, which means holiness, is the prayer over wine (or grape juice) that sanctifies .

On Friday night, the Kiddush is recited over a full cup of wine or grape juice before sitting down for Shabbat dinner and before saying the Motzi, the blessing over the challah. Traditionally, the Kiddush was recited by men. Today, in many households women or men recite the Kiddush. After the Kiddush is recited, the cup is passed around so that everyone can take a sip from it. Many families have a special cup, called a Kiddush cup, reserved for this purpose. Kiddush cups can be purchased at Judaica stores and online.

On Saturday morning, the Kiddush is said after Shabbat morning services and before lunch. The Shabbat morning version of the Kiddush focuses on God’s commandment for Jews to observe the Sabbath and make it holy.

Slightly different versions of the Kiddush are said on holiday eves and days.

The word Kiddush is also used to refer to a communal gathering held immediately following Shabbat morning services at synagogue. A synagogue Kiddush can range from a quick get-together over wine or grape juice and challah to a full buffet lunch. Often synagogue members who are celebrating a simcha, or joyous occasion like a bar/bat or wedding, will sponsor the Kiddush, usually meaning they cover the costs of the food and/or catering.

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