Kiddush FAQs

Kiddush FAQs

This article answers basic questions about how to make Kiddush on Friday night, including who can make Kiddush and when, and what materials are required for making Kiddush. Written in simple, colloquial language by Ezra Pepperman, this article is a helpful resource for beginners looking to learn the basics of Kiddush, without external sources or details on various customs and traditions. It represents a traditional perspective on Kiddush, mentioning gender roles and practices (such as an observance of Kashrut) most commonly associated with Orthodox tradition. The article appears in The Jewish Magazine, an online compilation of resources from across the Jewish world on Judaism and Israel. 

How to Make Kiddush

On Friday evening, before beginning the evening meal, it is customary to “make Kiddush”. This means basically reciting a blessing on a glass of wine. Herein we have listed some tips on how to make a “kiddush” in the privacy of your own home.

When should I make Kiddush?

Kiddush may be started even before it is dark. The earliest is approximately an hour before the sun sets. Kiddush may be recited late into the night, there is no end limit.

On what beverage may I make kiddush?

The best beverage is a great wine, kosher of course. It may be red or white, dry or sweet, but it should be the kind of wine that you really enjoy. Grape juice is also acceptable, but for Friday night, other spirits, such as whiskey or beer, or soft drinks, such as cola or juice should not be used. If no wine or grape juice is available, bread can be substituted for wine.

How do I physically make the kiddush?

Most people make kiddush on Friday evening standing up. Fill the glass of wine up until the top. Place the glass of wine in your right hand. (A little wine always spills!) Recite the blessings as printed in almost all prayer books. After the recital of the blessings, sit carefully and drink a large mouthful without interrupting to speak. Done!

Who should make kiddush?

Normally, the mother lights candles, and the father makes kiddush. This is the traditional arrangement. When there are guests, some have the custom that each male guest makes his own kiddush and the female guests listen to the kiddush of the person making kiddush. In reality, women can make kiddush also. Other people have the custom that only one person makes kiddush and he passes the cup, or contents of it around to all those assembled. Needless to say, a large cup is required (or a refill).

What are the blessings that are normally made on the wine?

For this, a traditional Jewish prayer book is required.

Editor’s note: There are slight variations in the text and pronunciation depending on tradition, affiliation, and place of origin. Below is the Hebrew, English, and transliterated text of the traditional Orthodox Kiddush, according to the Ashkenazi custom.

Do I need a special cup to make kiddush with?

No, it is not necessary. Some people purchase a beautiful silver cup which is used only for kiddush, but a normal drinking glass can be used too.

What other traditions are there connected with kiddush?

It is traditional to cover the two loafs of bread which are on the table during kiddush.

All people listening to the kiddush stand and listen to the kiddush and answer “amen” to the kiddush.