I have been weeding out the handshake while living in Monsey most due to the fact that washing cups are the favorite sink companion here rather then soap like in normal places. For everyone else the handshake is the way to greet- oh I should preface this was from a mans perspective. I feel that all women really do to greet each other is scream OMG a million times followed by another OMG and screaming. Handshakes really don’t take place amongst frum women.
The most common of all handshakes in the frum community is affectionately known as the dead fish. For some reason the yeshiva crowd favors the dead fish, unless your of the larger big build variety then in which case you switch to the bone crusher- but I’ll get to that later. The dead fish can also be called the bionic hand- of Richard Kimble fame. It is usually given with a barely audible shalom aleichim. I have no idea why people do this handshake, it always feels like the hand is literally dead and just hanging without any nerves left in it.
The Double Pump:
This is a quick and easy way to hand shake, it is usually done by those folks who do everything in twos. You know the folks that greet you on shabbos with two good shabboses? Or the guys that say yuntiff-yuntiff in quick succession as they pass you. Well these folks do the double pump, which is always pretty firm, but a dead fish handshake would drown in the double pump.
Sideways and Firm:
This is the handshake of folks who think they are cool. Kind of like those gangsters that shoot hand guns sideways. These guys go in for the handshakes straight and suddenly switch it up with one of those sideways maneuvers, usually with a big smile plastered on their faces. This handshake is only done if the person is happy to see you.
The elbow hold is seldom done in the frum community, it has a very country club WASPY feel to it and doesn’t really belong to frummies. With that said I have seen the elbow hold done by fancy lawyer types with white hair, and they probably play lots of golf at country clubs that didn’t allow Jewish members until the late 70’s. The elbow hold is very affectionate and at the same time, to me it seems like the person wants to borrow a hundred thousand bucks from you.
Every shul has a known bone crusher, the big dude named Lenny or Sal who can turn your hand into chopped liver. You know the guy that always wants you to feel his muscles (well this was before I knew that child molesters existed) and he always says shake his hand and you oblige, because that’s the thing to do. Bone crushers are usually large lonely men for some reason, more often then not they wear hats with feathers in them and wear their pants too high.
The fist used to be the cool thing to do, but it quickly evolved into a way not to shake peoples hands who you witnessed picking their noses during the whole laining. In fact so many people think your trying to be cool its fun to fist (take your mind out of the gutter people) old guys because they always say “so this is how you kids do it these days”, to which I wish I could respond, I just didn’t feel like touching your gold digging hands buddy.
Hey let go my hand:
Have you ever tried to get away and still have your hand being grasped by some person usually a Rabbi. Rabbis love to grab hold and not let go until you have told them your lifer story. You can try and leave mid shake, and they will tighten their hold and say “hey I’m not done talking to you yet” and so you have to pry your hand back.
Its part handshake, part embrace, I feel like this is done by people who are old acquaintances, not necessarily friends or maybe they don’t have time for the all out hug because they are in shul or something. This is also done by old Rabbis who kicked you out of yeshiva, I have seen it personally and wonder why these Rabbis are trying to be all chummy with you. Oh maybe because now that you have donation money available we have to let bygones be bygones.
You shake hands and then bump stomachs, cant really explain this one, but if you know what I am talking about maybe you can elaborate. This happens in the yeshiva rebel community quite a bit.