Hebrew word of the week: Hammin
A very important feature of celebrating the Sabbath is Hammin, a “hot dish” eaten after the morning services. Every Jewish community has its own tradition regarding the ingredients and way of preparing it. As it is forbidden to cook on Shabbat, it was OK to begin its cooking on Friday and let it continue slowly overnight. In modern times, people use electric Sabbath plates, but in older times, cooks had to find other methods.
“Hot” is retained in Yiddish cholent, related to the Latin calentem or calere “be hot,” or the French chaudlent “heat slowly,” or chaudes lentes “hot legumes (lentils).” In Judeo-Spanish, Haminados and Judeo-Moroccan skhina mean “hot”; but in Judeo-Iraqi tbit “(dish) cooked slowly overnight” and Judeo-Persian hale bibi “auntie and grandma” suggest it has a bit of everything: beans, lentils, cabbage, meat and more.
Yona Sabar is a professor of Hebrew and Aramaic in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at UCLA.