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Shabbat: Kiddush

Kiddush (קִדּוּשׁ, literally "sanctification") is a prayer recited over a cup of wine in the home and the synagogue to consecrate the Shabbat or holiday in fulfillment of the biblical commandment to "Remember the Shabbat day, to keep it holy." The primary Kiddush is recited before the start of the evening meal, since it is forbidden to eat on these occasions until Kiddush has been recited.

The text of the current Shabbat Kiddush consists of an introductory paragraph from Genesis 1:31 and 2:1–3, followed by the blessing over wine and finally the blessing for the sanctification of the day, which concludes with "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who hallowest the Shabbat." The introductory scriptural passage is omitted on holidays and only the blessings over wine and over the sanctification of the day are recited.

The schools of Hillel & Shammai differed as to whether the blessing over the sanctity of the day or that over the wine is recited first. On most holidays, except for the last days of Passover, the SheHeḥeyanu blessing, thanking God for "enabling us to reach this season," is recited at the conclusion of the Kiddush. When a holiday immediately follows the Shabbat, a special blessing celebrating the end of Shabbat (Havdalah) is added. While it is preferable to chant the evening Kiddush over wine (Pes. 107a), two loaves of bread may be used where wine is not obtainable.

Although there can be no proper recitation of the Kiddush except prior to the meal and at the place the meal will be eaten, the custom of also reciting the prayer at the conclusion of the Shabbat evening services in the synagogue gradually evolved. Despite the opposition of some rabbis, the practice was defended on the ground that at one time travelers were housed and fed in a room adjoining the synagogue. The travelers therefore discharged their obligation to sanctify the Shabbat through the public recitation of the Kiddush. Reciting the Kiddush in the synagogue has been retained only in the Ashkenazi ritual, except in Israel where the Kiddush is no longer recited as part of any synagogal rite.

The Kiddush ceremony, an integral part of Orthodox and Conservative practice, has also been retained by Reform Judaism. The Saturday morning Kiddush has often assumed new importance in the modern synagogue since it is often sponsored by the congregation and also serves as a communal social hour.

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