Photo Credit: Jewish Press

A handshake has the potential to foster connection and trust. It provides an opportunity to display confidence and, more importantly, make others feel comfortable, appreciated, and welcomed. A few subtle variations can make the difference between a meaningless handshake and one that accomplishes a lot – be it one hand or two, the firmness of the grip, the length, eye contact, or the memory of secret handshake maneuvers with friends.

Of course, we’ve all had experiences of handshakes gone wrong. Firstly, the sweaty palm can come at the worst of times. Even more awkward, not realizing a hand is extended to you can lead to a friend feeling insulted. And it can hurt on multiple dimensions when one goes in for a soft handshake but gets crushed.


The appreciation for handshakes ironically was resuscitated with the onset of Covid. We all of a sudden yearned to express ourselves with simple physical contact. Like many things in life, we often don’t appreciate something until it is taken away.

In the end, there are subtle intricacies to a well-executed handshake and, with some thought, this simple yet powerful gesture has the potential to be a reflection of our feelings and values.

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Akiva Kra hosts the Jews Shmooze podcast which interviews famous Jews about their experiences and thoughts. He writes a weekly dvar torah under 250 words to over 1,000 people.