Question: I have seen Jell-O shots made from Manischewitz and other kosher wines. Can I make Kiddush on a Jell-O shot?
Answer: Great question! It would depend on the proportion of wine to Jell-O. Many authorities rule that today you really need about 90% wine for a drink to still be considered wine — even though in talmudic times, wine was more concentrated and needed to be diluted up to 75% with water. So if the additives make up more than 10% of the shot, I would say it cannot be used for Friday night Kiddush.
There is another fascinating question when it comes to Jell-O pops: If wine is solidified, is it still considered wine? This question comes up with frozen wine, and many rabbinic authorities hold that frozen wine is not considered wine anymore, for the purposes of making Kiddush. On the other hand, Jell-O is sort of a liquid and sort of not, so there is an argument that these pops — in appropriate concentration — are still wine.
Since it may be difficult to achieve an adequate concentration of wine and there is some concern about whether a Jell-O is considered a liquid or not, my advice is that it’s best to avoid using Jell-O shots for Friday night Kiddush, which needs to be said specifically over wine (or, lacking wine, challah) according to Jewish law.
But it may be possible to use a Jell-O shot for Kiddush on Shabbat morning. Unlike Friday night Kiddush, the Kiddush recited on Saturday only requires a chamar medina (literally: common drink), which has been widely interpreted to mean any kind of favorable drink that you would give to a guest. You could certainly give a Jell-O pop to a guest, and so as long as it has enough volume of liquid to fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush — meaning at least 3 ounces — I would say that you could use it for Kiddush on Shabbat morning (or Havdalah) but not Friday night.
When using other beverages — whether that’s a Jell-O shot, beer or coffee — to make Kiddush on Shabbat morning, the “fruit of the vine” bracha is replaced by a more generalized blessing:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיָה בִּדְבָרוֹ
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehakol ni-yeyah be-devaro.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, by Whose word all things come into being.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin is the spiritual leader of Kehillat Etz Chaim in Detroit, Michigan.