Is Aloha the Hawaiian version of Shalom?
by Talia Goldberg, Community Shlicha
From the moment you land in Hawaii, everyone greets you with the word Aloha. You hear it everywhere. You see signs saying “spread Aloha not Covid.” This make me wonder, what is Aloha? Is it like Shalom? One of the meanings of the word Shalom is peace. In Israel that really seems like the proper word for greeting, peace. Is Aloha also a greeting that means something else?
So I googled the word Aloha and the answer was “Aloha is not a word with a simple translation.” To me that means Aloha doesn’t mean just one thing. Aloha has several meanings. But it’s so much more than just a word.
Aloha is a form of greeting, to say hello and welcome. But it’s also a form of farewell, or to say goodbye. Aloha is used as an expression of love and affection.
But more than just a word, Aloha is also a way of life. You may hear the phrase “spreading the Aloha spirit.” What exactly does that mean? To answer that question, let’s break down the word into two parts.The Hawaiian word “alo” means “presence” or “share” and the word “ha” means “breath of life” or “essence of life.” (from https://polynesianhostel.com/blog/what-does-aloha-mean/ )
Basically Hawaiians are showing you their heart in what they believe every time they greet you. This is very close to what we Israelis try to do when we say Shalom. Shalom is meant as a greeting that should bring peace upon us, since saying it is preserving the spirit.
May we spread Aloha and Shalom in our presence around the world.