hamsa

Alternative Spellings

chamsa

Definitions

  • a hand-shaped amulet (often a wall-hanging or jewelry) conferring good luck or protection, popular in Israel and originally from the Middle East / North Africa

Languages of Origin

Arabic

Etymology

Arabic خمسة 'five', Heb חמסה

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
Israel: Diaspora Jews who feel connected to Israel and have spent time there
Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)
Sephardim: Jews with Sephardi or Mizrahi heritage

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

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

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