SHAMMASH (Heb. שַׁמָּשׁ), salaried beadle or sexton in the community, the synagogue, rabbinical court, or a ḥevrah. A shammash performed a number of functions varying in accordance with the measure of autonomy or the nature of the religious institutions he served: tax collector, bailiff, process server, secretary, messenger, almoner, all-around handyman, grave digger, or notary. He sometimes acted as shulklaper, knocking on window shutters with a mallet to summon Jews to prayer, to announce the arrival of the Sabbath, or to waken people for pre-dawn penitential services. By signing the minutes of the kahal or of an association, he testified to their correctness. In Vilna he had to take an oath that he would strictly observe and enforce the communal statutes. He often acted as a diplomat or was sent as an envoy to another community. The ḥevra kaddisha of 19th-century Russian communities sometimes employed an oylem shamash to run errands. Along with the rabbi and cantor, the shammash was one of the three employees who received a regular salary and shared in the income from fees and largesse distributed at weddings or other festive occasions. He also supervised the local institutions, whether synagogue, hekdesh , or association. In larger towns there was a variety of specialized functionaries by that name. In the ḥevra the term shammash was used to denote the period of apprenticeship served by a new member. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Baron, Community, 3 (1942), index S.V. Shammash; I. Levitats, Jewish Community in Russia 17721844 (1943), index S.V. Beadle. (Isaac Levitats)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • shammash — ▪ Judaism also spelled  shamash  or  shammas (Hebrew: “servant”),  plural  shammashim , shamashim , or  shammasim        salaried sexton in a Jewish synagogue whose duties now generally include secretarial work and assistance to the cantor, or… …   Universalium

  • shammash — sham·mash …   English syllables

  • shammash — …   Useful english dictionary

  • ḤANUKKAH LAMP — (also known as ḥanukkiyyah and Ḥanukkah menorah). The central ritual of the eight day Festival of Ḥanukkah is the kindling of a lamp that has receptacles for eight lights, one for each night. A ninth receptacle, called the servitor or shammash,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • menorah — /meuh nawr euh, nohr euh/, n. 1. a candelabrum having seven branches (as used in the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem), or any number of branches (as used in modern synagogues). 2. a candelabrum having nine branches, for use on the… …   Universalium

  • sha|mes — «SHAH muhs», noun, plural sha|mos|im «shah MOS ihm», 1. a person who takes care of a synagogue; synagogue sexton or caretaker. 2. an extra candle used to light the candles in the menorah on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Also, shammes,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • COMMUNITY — antiquity middle ages character and structures functions and duties individual centers the muslim caliphate in the east …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • EISENSTADT — (Ger. also: Weniger Maertersdorf; Hung. Kismarton; Heb. א״שׁ; ציר ברזל), capital of burgenland , E. Austria. Its community was the leading one of the Seven Communities of Burgenland, and from the end of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • FOLKLORE — This entry is arranged according to the following outline: introduction …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • shammes — noun (plural shammosim) Etymology: Yiddish shames, from Late Hebrew shāmmāsh Date: 1650 1. the sexton of a synagogue 2. the candle or taper used to light the other candles in a Hanukkah menorah …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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