from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Among the Jews, especially in Russia and the Orient, one of the officers of the synagogue. In the United States the duties of the shammash have been curtailed and are now almost the same as those of a sexton, beadle, or janitor in Christian places of worship.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
In the Hanukkah ritual, there is a candle called the shammash, the "helper candle."
As the shammash touches each successive candle, the flame from the helper merges with as yet unlit candle; the flame rises higher.
On each of the nights of Hanukkah, the shammash is used to kindle the lights for each successive night.
The ninth candle is the "leader (or shammash-servant) candle," that is, the candle used to light the others, one candle each night for eight nights.