Judaica Guide: A Complete Guide to Essential Judaica & Hebrew

Kiddush Cup

The Jewish wine goblet which is used on Sabbath is called a Kiddush Cup. On Friday evening it is filled with wine, often from Israel, at the beginning of the Sabbath meal.

The word 'Kiddush' (which means sanctification in Hebrew) actually refers to the ceremony held at the beginning of many Jewish festivals during which a blessing is recited over wine and loaves of challah before the Shabbat or Holiday meal begins. When people do a kiddush, they make something holy out of something mundane (lekaddesh). After Kiddush has been made, everyone present shares the wine. Kiddush Cups may be used again at the Havdalah ceremony at the end of the Sabbath.

Traditionally a Kiddush Cup is made of gold or silver, and beautifully decorated with images of fruit, often grapes to represent the wine, and sometimes they have animals or birds on it. Kiddush Cups ofter have people's names or biblical passages inscribed on them. Cups may be passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom, and are often given as a present for a Bar Mitzvah for a boy or a Bat Mitzvah for a girl.

Rules about Kiddush Cups

Sabbath Kiddush Cups

Jewish wine cups come in a variety of sizes and forms, and can be made of many materials, all of them are Kosher. The most important thing about Jewish wine cups is their minimum size: Jewish wine cups must be at least 4 1/2 ounces.

Kiddush Cups can not be made of a disposable material (paper cup, for instance, cannot serve as Jewish wine cups).

Kiddush cups have to be complete - Kiddush cups which are chipped, broken or malformed, can no longer serve as Kiddush cups. For this reason, it is important to treat Kiddush cups with caution, and to examine the Kiddush cup for hidden cracks prior to the incantations of Kabalat Sabbath (the coming in of the Sabbath, in Hebrew) blessings.

Wine for Kiddush

Sabbath cups can be filled with any kind of wine, provided two rules are kept:

  • It isn't libation wine - in old times, wine was given as offering to pagan deities. It is forbidden, since then, to use wine which was handled by gentiles, unless it is a cooked wine (Mevushal). Sabbath cups can be filled with wine, even if it isn't cooked, as long as the bottle was sealed.
  • Sabbath cups must be filled with fresh wine - Sabbath cups cannot be filled with wine, which someone already sipped from. Such wine is deemed tainted. In order to use such wine, it is enough to mix with it an untainted wine (even a drop is enough), to render it ok. If you do not have wine in your position, or the wine you have isn't Kosher, Sabbath cups can be filled with grape juice.

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