Alternative Spellings

gabbay, gabbai


  • verb: to serve as gabai
  • noun: The officer of the synagogue who determines which congregants are to receive Torah honors at the service.
  • noun: The (lay) person who calls Jews to say blessings over the Torah reading and follows along with the Torah reading to correct any mistakes.

Example Sentences

  • "Lisa is gabbai today, so she'll be giving out the aliyahs."
  • "We have a gabbai rishon [the one who calls people to say the blessings and follows along], but we still need a gabbai sheni [the one who only follows along to correct mistakes]."
  • "I'm gabbai-ing at shul this weekend."

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew



Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education


North America


The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).


Also called a shammes (שמש).

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