Word of the Day / Karikh

Ironically enough, we eat sandwiches during the Passover seder too, at least as far as Hebrew is concerned.

Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova

If you go to Israeli coffeehouses, one of the main food items on their menu will probably be a karikh (kah-REEKH). That is the official Hebrew word for "sandwich," though Israelis are just as likely to refer to it as a SAHND-veech.

The karikh need not necessarily include bread, though. We eat krikhim on Passover too, but they're made of matza-and-maror sandwich at the seder because, the Haggadah tells us: "This is what Hillel did in the time when the Holy Temple stood. He put the matza and bitter herbs together (korekh) and ate them at the same time, in order to fulfill what is written: 'They shall eat [the Passover sacrifice] with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.'"

The verb karakh has its roots in Akkadian and Aramaic, and means to wrap, to tie around something else or to join together.

It's somewhat ironic that the origin of the karikh is so closely associated with Passover, since the main component of an ordinary sandwich (bread, of course, slapped around some filler or other) is verboten on the holiday.

On the other hand, many people use Romaine lettuce for bitter herbs, so maybe Hillel was onto something after all.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

A sandwich actually consisting of bread with (in this case) turkey shwarma slapped inside.Credit: Boaz Lavie
Balkan open sandwich with tomatoes.Credit: Shay Afgin

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