Q. In South Africa the refreshments after a Shabbat service are called a b’rachah. Elsewhere it is a kiddush. Which one is right?
A. It is all very confusing, very interesting and very wonderful to see how the other half lives. Many communities have their own way of saying things. Anglo-Jewry says, “I wish you long life” on a bereavement or Yahrzeit and “Well over the fast” before Yom Kippur, whilst other places find these formulae rather strange.
South African Jews call a challah a kitke (no-one seems certain why), but since the word challah originally did not mean a loaf of bread at all, but rather the priest’s share of the dough, it may be that challah is also not 100 percent correct. In Germany the loaf was called baerches, probably a corruption of b’rochos.
To call a kiddush a b’rachah may possibly have a Lithuanian origin; but since kiddush means “sanctification” and b’rachah means “blessing” there is logic behind both names.