GREETINGS AND CONGRATULATIONS


Although Jews have adopted the languages of the countries in which they live, they have always tended to retain traditional forms of greetings and congratulations either in Hebrew or Yiddish and occasionally in Aramaic, and some of these forms of greetings are adaptations of biblical verses while others are taken from the liturgy. Many are merely the expression of an emotion in Hebrew or Yiddish without any literary source. In the list below the most common forms of greetings are given; the list does not include the many variations which sometimes exist nor does it include simple translations such as boker tov (= good morning). (See Table: Greetings and Congratulations.)

Jewish Forms of Greetings and Congratulations

Hebrew Literal meaning Occasions when said Origin and/or reference
GREETINGS AND CONGRATULATIONS – GENERAL FORMS OF
1. Shalom or Shalom lekha שָׁלוֹם
שָׁלוֹם לְךָ
Peace.
Peace to you.
As a common greeting equivalent to "hello" or "goodbye"
"Good day"
Gen. 29:6; 43:27;
Ex. 18:7
Judg. 6:24
I Sam. 16:4
2. Shalom aleikhem שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם Peace to you. Same as above
3. Aleikhem shalom עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם To you, peace. Response to greeting No. 2
4. Barukh ha-ba בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא Blessed be the one who comes. A common greeting, equivalent to "welcome." A child brought to the circumcision ceremony and a bride and groom approaching the wedding canopy are also greeted thus. The response to the greeting is No. 5 or 6.
5. Barukh ha-nimẓa אָצמִּנַה ךור ָּב Blessed be the one (already) present. Response to greeting No. 4 Ps. 118:26
6. Barukh ha-yoshev בָּרוּךְ הַיּוֹשֵב Blessed be the one who is sitting. Response to greeting No. 4. Used by a guest to the host sitting at the head of the table.
7. Shalom berakhah ve-tovah שָׁלוֹם בְּרָכָה וְטוֹבָה Peace, blessing and (all) good (to you). General blessing used by Sephardi Jews.
8. Ḥazak u-varukh חֲזק וּבָרוּךְ Be stong and blessed. Same as above Also used in Sephardi synagogues to a person who returns to his seat after having performed liturgical functions.
9. Yishar koḥakha or Yasher ko'akh יִישַׁר כֹּחֲךָ May your strength (increase) go straight. Congratulations for success and achievement. In traditional synagogues also extended to a person who has been called up to the Torah reading.
10. Ḥazak ve-emaẓ חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ Be strong and of good courage. Congratulations for success and achievement. Also extended to a bar mitzvah boy after he has finished reading the haftarah. e.g., Deut 31:23
11. Biz hundert un tsvantsik (Yiddish) (May you live) until the age of 120. A wish for long life.
12. Tsu gezunt (Yiddish) Good health. To a person who has sneezed; also to someone convalescing.
13. a. Li-veri'ut לִבְרִיאוּת Good health. Same as above
b. Asuta אָסוּתָא (Aramaic) Good health. Same as above
14. Refu'ah shelemah רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה (May you have) a complete recovery. Wish to a sick person.
SABBATH AND HOLIDAY GREETINGS
15. a. Shabbat shalom Gut shabes שַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם (Yiddish) Good Sabbath. The Sabbath greeting
b. Shabbat hi milizok u-refu'ah kerovah lavo שַׁבָּת הִיא מִלִּזְעֹק וּרְפוּאָה קְרוֹבָה לָבוֹא It is Sabbath and forbidden to make supplications but may you soon get well. When visiting the sick on the Sabbath Shab. 12a
16. a. Shavu'a tov A gute vokh שָׁבוּעַ טוֹב (Yiddish) A good week. Saturday night at the end of the Sabbath
17. Gut khoydesh (Yiddish) A good new month. On new moons
18. Gut Yontev (Yiddish) corrupted from the Hebrew Yom Tov A good holiday (to you). On holidays and festivals
19. a. Mo'adim lesimḥah מוֹעֲדִים לְשִׂמְחָה Joyous holidays. On festivals. The response to which is No. 20.
b. Ḥag same'ah חַג שָׂמֵחַ Joyous holiday.
20. Ḥaggim uzemannim lesason חַגִּים וּזְמַנִּים לְשָׂשֹׂוֹן Holidays and festivals for joy and gladness. Response to No. 19a and 19b This wording is from the prayer for the three festivals.
21. Ve-hayita akh same'aḥ וְהָיִיתָ אַךְ שָׂמֵחַ You shall have nothing but joy. On Sukkot, when visiting a person in his sukkah Deut. 16:15
NEW YEAR AND DAY OF ATONEMENT
22. a. Shanah tovah שָׁנָה טוֹבָה A good year (to you), or its more ample version: During the Days of Penitence
b. Le-shanah tovah tikkatevu (vetehatemu) (לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ (וְתֵחָתֵמוּ May you be inscribed and sealed) for a good year (i.e. in the Book of Life), or its shorter form: The wording is from the prayers *Amidah and *Avinu Malkenu
c. Ketivah tovah כְּתִיבָה טוֹבָה A good inscription (in the Book of Life).
23. Gam le-mar גַם לְמַר To you too. Greetings in Nos. 22a, b, and c, as well as 24a and b
On the Day of Atonement, the day of "Sealing the book." Wording from the prayer book.
24. a. Hatimah tovah חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה A sealing for good (to you), or its more ample version:
b. Gemar hatimah tovah גְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה A propitious final sealing (to you) (in the Book of Life). As above. This form can be used until Hoshana Rabba.
ON JOYOUS OCCASIONS AND FAMILY EVENTS
25. a. Mazzal tov מַזָּל טוֹב Good luck (i.e., may you enjoy a favorable zodiac constellation). For joyous occasions, especially childbirth, betrothal, wedding, bar-mitzvah, etc.… Ashkenazi custom.
b. Be-siman tov בְּסִימָן טוֹב Same as above Same as above Sephardi custom.
26. Barukh tihyeh בָּרוּךְ תִּהְיֶה Be you blessed (too), i.e., the same to you). Response to Mazzal tov wish
27. Le-ḥayyim or לְחַיִּים To life. On taking a drink, usually alcoholic. Shab. 67b.
28. Le-ḥayyim tovim u-le-shalom לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים וּלְשָׁלוֹם Good life and peace (to you). More ample form of No. 27.
DURING MOURNING
29. Ha-Makom yenahem etkhem be-tokh avelei Ẓiyyon vi-Yrushalayim הַמָּקוֹם יְנַחֵם אֶתְכֶם בְּתוֹךְ אֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם May the Lord comfort you among all mourners for Zion and Jerusalem. To a mourner during the week of mourning. See: *Mourning
ON YAHRZEIT
30. Ad bi'at ha-go'el עַד בִּיאַת הַגּוֹאֵל (May you live) until the coming of the Messiah. On the yearly anniversary of the death of a relative. Among German Jews.
IN WRITTEN FORM ONLY
31. Ad me'ah shanah (עַד מֵאָה שָׁנָה (עמ"ש Until a hundred years. In the heading of a private letter, after the addressee's name
32. Zekhuto yagen aleinu (זְכוּתוֹ יָגֵן עָלֵינוּ (זי"ע May his merit protect us. After name of distinguished deceased; usually ḥasidic.
33. Zikhrono li-verakhah or Zekher ẓaddik liverakhah (זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה (ז"ל) זֵכֶר צַדִּיק לִבְרָכָה (זצ"ל May his memory be for a blessing.
May the memory of the pious be for a blessing.
After name of deceased; also in speech.
34. Alav ha-shalom (עָלָיו הַשָלוֹם (ע"ה Peace be on him. As above.
35. Natreih Raḥamana u-varkhei (נַטְרֵיה רַחֲמָנָא וּבַרְכֵיה (נר"ו (Aramaic) May God guard and bless him (you). Written form of address.
36. She-yihyeh le-orekh yamim tovim amen (שׁיּחיֶה לְאֹרֶך יָמִים טוֹבִים אָמֵן (שליט"א May he (you) live for many good days, Amen. As above.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.