Alternative Spellings

shammos, schammos, shames


  • 1. candle lit first and then used to light other hanukah candles
  • 2. the caretaker of a synagogue.
  • 3. personal assistant / aide / gofer, especially to a rabbi or in the Hollywood entertainment industry

Example Sentences

  • "The shamash is going to order new siddurim."
  • "For the first night, we will need one candle and a shamash."

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish


Heb שמש shamásh, Yiddish שמשׂ shámes

Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements


North America


The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
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).
JPS: The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)

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