Many religiously observant men I've met, irrespective of their 'edah (cultural persuasion, e.g. Ashkenazi, Sefaradi, Teimani), have shaken my hand more loosely than secular or Gentile men (who generally tend toward a firmer handshake in my experience).

Is there a halakhic/hashqafic reasoning/source behind this?

Social/comedic sources giving anecdotal evidence to the trend:

  • 2
    I'm unaware of specific halachic discussion regarding shaking hands with another person, providing the other is the same gender. I notice that many sefardim do a gentle hand "touch" and kiss their hands. I don't know the origin of this custom. Several years ago, when there was an outbreak of the H1 Flu virus in the U.S., several rabbanim issued "decrees" that NO ONE should shake hands with anyone to avoid spreading the virus. Personally, I minimize shaking hands because I'm germaphobic.
    – DanF
    Jun 9, 2014 at 15:47
  • I've noticed this too. I just assumed it was because Jews shake hands so often in shul that it has become a casual cultural thing, while non-Jews use it mostly in business where it becomes a functional business tool. Jun 9, 2014 at 15:53
  • 1
    Those sources were hilarious.
    – Scimonster
    Jun 9, 2014 at 18:50
  • 3
    In the broader world, handshaking is confined mostly to a business environment or when meeting someone new or someone that you haven't seen in a while. Most people are taught to look someone in the eye and give them a firm handshake. However, many religious Jews are accustomed to shaking hands with far greater frequency, especially on Shabbos or after being given any honor (such as an aliya). Thus, handshaking has become perfunctory and highly repetitive for many religious Jews, and this seems to be a likely sociological cause for the increased proportional incidence of limp handshakes.
    – Fred
    Jun 10, 2014 at 21:13
  • 3
    ...Additionally, despite the claim in the OP that many religious Jews give limp handshakes, in my experience most religious Jews still give firm handshakes. (I'm not posting the above comment as an answer, because it's essentially just speculation).
    – Fred
    Jun 10, 2014 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


The sentiment and intent behind the 'power hand shake' is (or should be) foreign to a jew. We who are forbidden to walk with a haughty gait, bikoma zekufa, don't squeeze the blood out of the hand of the person we are greeting as a ploy to seem powerful and assertive.

  • 1
    Do you have a source regarding the intent of firm handshakes, or that this rather than some other cultural or historic reason, lies behind the supposed difference in average grip strength in Jewish handshakes?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 14, 2016 at 20:00

I was working in the USA 22 years ago and was given advice at work about handshakes. I thought the advice (to give firm handshakes) was strangely ethnocentric because it pointed out that people from some cultures (e.g. India) gave soft handshakes. I tend to give soft handshakes now. I read that soft handshakes can be an indicator of heart problems.

Overall, I would give a woman a soft handshake, and I try to do the same for men. if I give a harder handshake, I would squeeze at the edges rather than attempt a bonecrusher.

Kind regards.

  • 2
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Telfer Cronos. Thanks for posting your answer here. However, this question was asking specifically about Orthodox Jews giving "loose" handshakes, and I don't see how you've answered the question at hand (pun intended). You may have given good handshake advice, but other than that, there's nothing "Jewish" about your answer. And with this being a Jewish site and all...
    – ezra
    Sep 30, 2018 at 5:59
  • 4
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Can you try to edit your answer to show how it directly addresses the question that was asked?
    – Alex
    Sep 30, 2018 at 6:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .