Martin Di Maggio is a British Italian Jew, a sociolinguist, and neurodiversity support group facilitator. He leads a Humanistic Jewish group through Central London Humanists, is a leader of the online Spinoza Havurah, is a student in the Leadership Program of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ), and an Independent Member of SHJ.
With a keen interest in creative Jewish liturgy and adapting existing traditions to the needs of Humanistic worldviews, Martin Di Maggio created this “Guide to Kiddish for Humanistic Jews.” About the Guide, he says, “If you feel a connection to some of the traditional rituals but don’t want to say words you don’t believe in, then this guide to kiddush will help you achieve that! All the words can be sung to familiar melodies and the whole ritual looks and feels no different to a traditional kiddush.”
Please click here to download the printable PDF. We have also published the text below:
A Guide To Kiddush
For Humanistic Jews
By: Martin Di Maggio
Kiddush means sanctification or literally “setting apart” and is traditionally recited over wine on Friday night or before a special Jewish holiday. There are many traditional ways to perform Kiddush and here I will present the method performed by Ashkenazim and Sephardim. The wording, however, is Humanistic and does not mention God. Kiddush does not have to be said in Hebrew and it is acceptable to say it in English or any other language, although Hebrew is usually preferred. From the time the sun sets on Friday night (or once the candles are lit), until after kiddush, one does not eat or drink anything.
The procedure is as follows:
- The table is set with both hallot (Friday night bread) on the table, and are usually covered (many LGBT+ Jews do not cover them as a reminder of the freedom of being out of the closet). Here is a hallah recipe, and click here for a Sephardic recipe. Ethiopians use Dabo bread; click here for a recipe.
- Use a special cup that is reserved only for kiddush. Fill the cup to the rim to symbolize full joy.
- Use any special wine of grape juice. Preferably one you do not use at any other point in the week (shabbat food and drink is usually special).
- Kiddush is made on behalf of everyone present, so only one person recites it.
- There are different customs regarding whether one stands or sits while making kiddush. If you don’t have a family custom, the choice is yours! Just be consistent from week to week. You can start creating a home tradition.
- Those present answer “Amen” after the blessing of the wine (“peri hagefen”), and after the concluding blessing that follows.
- We do not speak between the saying of a blessing and the action being blessed, and so nobody speaks until they have had a sip of the wine or grape juice. The person reciting kiddush should remind everyone of this beforehand.
- After the person reciting kiddush finishes the blessing they distribute it to everyone else, but if you like you can distribute it beforehand. The reciter should have their share first followed by everyone else.
- The reciter raises their glass and says the following (in English):“The sixth day: And on the seventh day we complete the labour we perform. And we refrain on the seventh day from all the labour which we perform. And we bless the seventh day and sanctify it, for we then refrain from all our labour which we have to do.” (In Hebrew) “YomHashishi. Vatechal bayom hashevi’I hamelachah asher ne ’ estah. Vatishbot bayom hashevi’i kol hamelachah asher ne ’ estah. Nevarech et yom hashevi ’ i vanekadesh oto ki vo shavatnu mikol-hamelachah asher baḥarnu la’asot.”
- They then say (in English ) “Attention Friends” (in Hebrew) “Savri ḥaverim veḥaverot” and pause for a second.
- The glass is raised higher.
- Reciter continues: (in English) “Blessed is the light in life and blessed is the fruit of the vine” (in Hebrew) Baruch ha’or baḥayyim uvaruch peri hagefen”
- Everyone says Amen.
- Reciter continues (in English) “Blessed are you our lights and our ancestors, who blessed us with their traditions with love and took pleasure in us. With love they have given us this sacred sabbath as an inheritance and in memory of creation. That day is also the first of a sacred convocation, a memorial of the exodus from the narrow places. For we have chosen it and it distinguishes us along with all the peoples of the world, and in love and favour we sanctify the sabbath. Blessed are you friends, who distinguish the Sabbath.” (in Hebrew) “Beruchim atem orénu vehorénu mekaymei aménu, asher kidshunu bimsorotéhem veratzu vanu. Veshabbat kodshénu be’ahavah uveratzon hinḥilunu, zikaron lema’asé reshit. Ki hu yom teḥilah lemikra’i kodesh, zecher litzi’at mitzrayim. Ki anu vaḥarnu ve’anaḥnu kidashnu ‘im kol ha’amim, veshabat kodshénu be’ahavah uveratzon hinḥilunu. Beruchim atem ḥaverim, mekadshé hashabbat!”
- Everyone says Amen.
- We then drink our wine or grape juice.
- Now we wash our hands.
- The hallah is raised in both hands.
- The reciter says the following: (in English) “Blessed is the light in humanity and blessed are those who bring forth bread from the earth” (in Hebrew) “Baruch ha’or ba’adam uveruchim hamotzi’im leḥem min ha’aretz”
- Everyone says Amen.
- Reciter breaks a piece of hallah for themselves and then breaks more pieces and distributes them to everyone else who then eats their piece (Ashkenazim cut the hallah and Sephardim break it with their hands).
- There is a custom to dip the hallah piece in salt to remind us of the bitterness of life . Moroccans dip it in sugar to remind us of the sweetness of life.
- Now we all wish each other Shabbat Shalom and shake hands or hug.
- Usually a meal is served.
Here is a video on the traditional kiddush: