What is a Kiddush Cup?
Kiddush (קידוש) is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice. Reciting kiddush sanctifies the Shabbat or Jewish holiday and it counts as a mitzvah or commandment. A kiddush cup is a special cup for the wine that is to be blessed. Modern kiddush cups come in many different styles, ranging from traditional sterling silver goblet style cups, to brightly colored anodized aluminum kiddush cups with a beaker design.
A kiddush cup is first and foremost a practical item, but most of us prefer to have a little luxury in our lives, especially when we’re buying silverware and tableware for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. A handmade silver kiddush cup or a designer anodized aluminum kiddush cup from Jerusalem is a precious family possession that will last for generations to come!
What does the Kiddush Cup Symbolize?
The kiddush cup (as the vessel for the kiddush blessing) symbolizes keeping and remembering the Shabbat or a Jewish holiday. Even for people who aren’t religious, the kiddush cup still has enormous symbolism. It’s a direct link to centuries of Jewish tradition, and to generations of our ancestors who began their Shabbat meal by covering the challah and blessing the wine. Even for completely secular families, passing the Kiddush cup around the table is a special moment of togetherness and a deep connection to their cultural heritage.
For many Jewish people, regardless of their tradition or community, the kiddush blessing and kiddush cup add a spirituality to the Shabbat dinner and sets the evening apart from ordinary family meals. If a sterling silver kiddush cup symbolizes anything to modern secular or non-observant Jews, it’s a shared cultural heritage and a commitment to family.
What does Kiddush mean in English?
Kiddush is a transliteration of the Hebrew word קידוש. Kiddush literally means sanctification, which can be interpreted as making something holy, cleansing or ritually purifying it, or consecrating it for religious use. Fortunately there’s no need for subtle scholarly arguments or linguistic analysis. Most people are quite happy with the idea that kiddush means ‘blessing’ in English and that saying kiddush is a symbolic blessing to welcome the arrival of the Shabbat or a special high holy day.
If we want to understand the deeper meaning of the kiddush, it’s worth taking a quick look back in time – even just a couple of generations. Many of our ancestors lived simple lives that were marked by hard work and few luxuries. There was little in the way of entertainment and distractions and life outside work revolved around the family home and synagogue. A big Shabbat meal was the highpoint of the week and had far greater significance than it does today. Just lighting the Shabbat candles in a world without electric lights was a big deal. Kiddush was an important and moving ritual in a much simpler world.
Can any Cup be a Kiddush Cup?
Yes absolutely! There’s a strong preference to honor the kiddush blessing and the ritual opening of the Shabbat with a beautiful and ornate silver kiddush cup, but there is no necessity to do so. It is the sincerity of the blessing and the togetherness of the participants that counts. If you’re experiencing hard times, or are a long way from home, any drinking vessel (or even an improvised cup) will do for kiddush.
Many lovers of modern Judaica buy kiddush cups made from ultra-modern materials with minimalist designs. If you’re a fan of art deco or Scandinavian minimalism, you can buy kiddush sets that match the rest of your tableware and home decor. Not everybody wants to bless Shabbat with a jewel encrusted silver filigree goblet that looks like it came straight from King Solomon’s palace!
Sterling Silver Kiddush Cups
Sterling silver kiddush cups are handcrafted from 925 sterling silver. The silver is soft enough for fine filigree work, but tough enough for daily use. Handmade sterling silver kiddush cups are truly beautiful works of art that will become treasured family heirlooms.
Aluminum Kiddush Cups
Anodized aluminum kiddush cups are handmade using special casting techniques. The anodized aluminum creates a striking modern look with a choice of bold or matte colors. The aluminum kiddush cups look amazing and are robust, practical and easy to clean.
How many Kiddush Cups do I Need?
Technically you only need a single kiddush cup. Many people prefer to buy one truly beautiful handmade kiddush cup – almost as a family investment. Other people like to own a full set of Shabbat tableware and silverware. They buy silver kiddush cup sets with ornamental trays, multiple cups, wine fountains and wine holders and handmade Challah boards. Serious Judaica collectors often spend a lifetime collecting modern and antique kiddush cups and take pride in owning extensive collections.
Why do Jews say Kiddush?
Jews say kiddush for all kinds of reasons. For religious Jews, the kiddush blessing is a straightforward observance of a mitzvah and an expression of faith. Secular Jews who say kiddush often enjoy the feeling of personal connection with their deep heritage and ancient culture. Many families don’t care about kiddush one way or another, but they do want their kids and grandkids to experience Jewish traditions. Perhaps for most people, kiddush is simply an integral part of Shabbat and the evening would feel strange or empty without the ritual.
Buy a Personalized Kiddush Cup
If you want to buy a kiddush cup as a special gift, it’s worth buying a personalized kiddush cup. Our Jerusalem craftsmen can add engravings, silver stamping and enameling to any sterling silver kiddush cup or aluminum kiddush cup. You can add a name or choose a blessing or dedication when you order a personalized kiddush cup online.