Kiddush and Kedusha

We’ll become familiar with the Kiddush blessing that is said on Friday evening. We’ll look at the concept of kedusha (holiness), in general, and the kedusha of Shabbat, in particular.

Resource Ages: 12-14


And it was evening, and it was morning — the sixth day

Then the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their array.

With the seventh day, God completed the work God had done.

God rested on the seventh day from all the work God had done.

God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy (kadosh), because on it God rested from all God’s work, which God had created and done.

(Genesis 2:1‒3)

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר.
יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי.

וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם.
וַיְכַל אֱ-לֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה,
וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה.
וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱ-לֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ,
כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ,
אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱ-לֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has made us holy through Your commandments, who has favored us and in love and favor gave us Your holy Shabbat as a heritage, a remembrance of the work of creation. It is the first among the holy days of assembly, a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. 

For You chose us and sanctified us from all the nations, and in love and favor gave us Your holy Shabbat as an inheritance. Blessed are You, Adonai, who sanctifies Shabbat.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְרָצָה בָנוּ,
וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשׁוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחִילָנוּ,
זִכָּרוֹן לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית,
תְּחִלָּה לְמִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ,
זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם,
כִּי בָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ וְאוֹתָנוּ קִדַּשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים,
וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחַלְתָּנוּ.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת.

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • What can make time holy?
  • Why are holidays, rituals, customs, important to me, my family, and my community?
  • How do family traditions play an important role in our lives?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • What is kedusha (holiness)? How have you experienced kedusha in your own life?
  • How is Shabbat holy for you?

Background for Teacher

The Kiddush blessing is one of the main traditional ways of bringing in Shabbat. This blessing is said on Friday evening; a different version of this blessing is said on Saturday during the day. The Friday night Kiddush ceremony reminds us of some of...

Read more

The Kiddush blessing is one of the main traditional ways of bringing in Shabbat. This blessing is said on Friday evening; a different version of this blessing is said on Saturday during the day. The Friday night Kiddush ceremony reminds us of some of the main themes of Shabbat: Shabbat as a reminder of the creation of the world and of God resting from the work of creation, Shabbat as a reminder of the exodus from Egypt, Shabbat as a day of holiness, and Shabbat as a gift that God lovingly gave to the people of Israel. In this resource, we will focus on the subject of kedusha (holiness), as expressed through the Kiddush. In many languages, the word holiness is used in the context of things that are considered lofty or exalted, for example, to describe a place like a church or a person with superhuman qualities. However, in Judaism, the word does not mean exalted, but rather separate or separated. God separated out Shabbat and made it distinct from all of the other days of the week. We want to convey to our students that kedusha is not limited to things that are distant or disconnected from people. For example, it is possible to see a fancy synagogue as holy, but it is also possible to see a family Shabbat meal as holy. A meaningful conversation between a parent and child, siblings, or friends can also be holy. Together with the students, we will examine how they understand the concept of kedusha, whether they have experienced moments of kedusha in their own lives, and to what extent Shabbat and Shabbat traditions can be meaningful for them and can even be moments of kedusha in their lives.

As in any learning related to Jewish practice, it is important to clarify that every family marks and celebrates Shabbat in its own way. There are families in which Kiddush is an essential part of the Shabbat celebration and there are families that do not make the Kiddush blessing, but choose to mark the specialness of the day in other ways.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study
How to Do It?
  • Use a template to clarify this abstract concept.
  • What is kedusha? Give examples of things that are holy for you.
  • Watch this short video of Kiddush. Ask the students to write down six words that pop into their minds as they watch the video.

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. The word Kiddush is derived from the Hebrew word kadosh (holy). Mark all the words in the Kiddush that are based on the root ק-ד-ש. If you are working with students whose Hebrew skills make that exercise too difficult, write out the words Kiddush and kadosh on the board and ask the students to suggest possible relationships between those two words.
  2. The first part of the Kiddush includes the phrase: 

“וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ”

“God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy (kadosh)”

Look up the dictionary definition of the word kadosh. Try to insert that dictionary definition into different sentences. Then, explain: What is the significance of the fact that God “קידש את היום השביעי” [made the seventh day kadosh]?

  1. To what extent do you identify with the idea of Shabbat as a day that is kadosh? (Think broadly about the word kadosh: lofty, exalted, special.) If you do not identify with this idea at all, explain why. If you do identify with it, explain how it is expressed in your experience.
  2. The philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel described Shabbat as “holiness in time”:
    “Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events […] The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn…

    (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, p. 8)
  • According to Heschel, what is special about Shabbat? Think about the history of the Jewish people: Why has this aspect of Shabbat been important for the Jewish people?
  • Heschel goes on to describe Shabbat as a sanctuary that floats on the river of time, the flow of routine. Try to explain why, according to him, it is important to lift up and set apart individual moments and days from the flow of the days of the week and the year. Do you agree with this idea? Explain.
  1. In addition to the concept of kedusha which we have focused on here, what other themes related to Shabbat are mentioned in the Kiddush?
  2. The recitation of Kiddush is a tradition among many Jewish families. Is it part of your tradition with your family, school, community, or synagogue? Share with your friends.

These activities can be used to illustrate the abstract concept of kedusha.

Each student chooses one sentence from Kiddush and integrates it into a piece of artwork (for example, a collage or a design involving letters). The artwork should reflect the idea of the kedusha of Shabbat. This can be demonstrated using examples:  The English names of animals presented in the shape of each animal, the artwork of Nechama Golan which illustrates the meaning of the Hebrew word שפה (language), which appears in the artwork.

The students’ creations can be presented in an exhibition. Each student should explain their choice of sentence or word, and how their piece relates to the concept of Shabbat and/or kedusha. A digital tool can be used to construct a virtual exhibition of the students’ projects.

  • You can teach other Hebrew words that have the root ק-ד-ש: kedusha, mikdash, kaddish, kadesh (from the Haggadah).
  • Read the story “A Most Unusual Kiddush.
    Discuss with the students: What parallel can we see between the wine used for Kiddush and the olive oil used in the Temple? In the circumstances described, why was the act of making Kiddush over the wine so meaningful for the soldiers? According to the narrator, this custom unites Jews from different backgrounds. Why did this touch him emotionally? Think about other things that unite different groups of Jews. Imagine: How do you think those soldiers felt the next time they heard Kiddush, after the war?
  • Read the Hasidic story “A Shabbat Feeling” that examines the idea that people “create” kedusha through customs and actions.
  • Study another work by Heschel: “Shabbat: An Island in a Stormy Sea
  • We recommend listening to the different melodies of the Kiddush from different countries collected on the Piyyut V’Tefilla website of the National Library of Israel. 
  • Explanation  by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (to 2:46), followed by his recitation of the Kiddush
  • Kiddush by Bat Ella Birnbaum