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Archive for the 'Israeli Culture' Category

Pesach: The Jewish Passover

In Judaism, Passover is one of the most important holidays of the year. It celebrates the release of the Jews from Egypt as described in the biblical book of Exodus, and commemorates the events leading up to it. 

Maybe you’ve heard of Passover before, but never really understood what it’s about or how it’s celebrated. If so, this article will be your golden ticket to understanding the basics and getting better acquainted with Jewish culture and traditions. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Passover?

A Depiction of the Passover Sacrifice

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated for seven days during אביב (aviv), or spring. The celebration of this holiday is commanded and outlined in the biblical books of Exodus and Leviticus, and the purpose of this holiday is to commemorate the events leading up to the חירות (kherut), or freedom, of the Israelites after fleeing Egypt. 

The history of Passover in the Bible can be found in the book of Exodus, according to which the Jews were once enslaved by the people of Egypt. In the form of a burning bush, Yahweh commanded משה (Moshe), or Moses, to speak with Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites. Despite Moses’s strong faith and devotion, he lacked confidence in his speaking abilities and rather had his older brother אהרון (Aharon), or Aaron, speak on his behalf. When Pharaoh refused, Yahweh brought about the עשר מכות (Eser makot), or 10 Plagues, which wreaked havoc among the Egyptians and caused many deaths. 

The last of these plagues was the killing of all Egyptian firstborn sons, including the Pharaoh’s own son. The Israelites were spared this plague, for Yahweh commanded them to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb which would cause the Angel of Death to pass over them. It is this event which the holiday is named after. 

Passover is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals. You can learn about the other two on our website! 

2. When is Passover This Year?

springtime flowers in a green field

The first day of Passover begins on the fifteenth of Nissan according to the Jewish calendar. Here are the start and end dates of this holiday on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years: 

  • 2021: March 27 – April 4
  • 2022: April 15 – April 22
  • 2023: April 5 – April 12
  • 2024: April 22 – April 29
  • 2025: April 12 – April 19
  • 2026: April 1 – April 9
  • 2027: April 21 – April 29
  • 2028: April 10 – April 18
  • 2029: March 30 – April 7
  • 2030: April 17 – April 25

3. Passover Traditions

seder tu bishvat, or Passover food

Passover traditions actually begin the morning before, on the fourteenth of Nissan. This is when observant Jews scour their homes for any trace of חמץ (khametz), or hametz. Hametz refers to any type of leavened product, which is prohibited on Passover. All of the hametz that’s found in one’s home must be burned.

Another event that takes place prior to the actual Passover holiday is the Fast of the Firstborn. This is a fast that the firstborn son of every practicing Jewish family participates in to commemorate the fact that Yahweh spared all of the Jewish firstborns in the Exodus story. However, people are allowed to break this fast in the event of a celebratory event; synagogues often host such an event so that the firstborn sons can eat during Passover.

On the evening of the first day of Passover, observant Jews have the Passover seder. This is a special meal that aids in telling the Passover story and keeping it fresh in mind. The Passover meal consists of several different foods which symbolize key aspects of the Israelites’ journey to freedom: 

  • מרור (maror), which are bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness of the Jews’ slavery
  • חרוסת (kharoset), or charoseth, which is a sweet mix of fruit and nuts with honey, symbolizing the mortar Jewish slaves used in building
  • מצה (matzah), or matzo, which is an unleavened bread product symbolizing the unleavened bread eaten by the fleeing Israelites

It’s also customary to pour wine for each guest, as well as a glass for the Prophet Elijah who is said to visit the homes of those observing the seder. 

Each of these food elements is held and consumed in accordance with the Exodus story from the Haggadah. In addition, the recital of the Four Questions takes place during the seder. 

The following day (the sixteenth of Nissan) marks another milestone on the Jewish calendar: it’s fifty days before Shavuot. It begins the Counting of the Omer, during which Jews begin the countdown to Shavuot. 

  • See our vocabulary on Israeli Food to learn more useful cuisine-related words! 

4. Afikoman

Another fascinating Passover tradition involves the children. Parents cut off part of the matzah from the seder, called the אפיקומן (Afikoman), and hide it. The children are then encouraged to find it in order to receive presents as compensation. 

A common variation of this tradition is for the children to steal the Afikoman themselves and return it in exchange for gifts. 

5. Essential Hebrew Vocabulary for Passover

different Passover foods

Here are some of the most important vocabulary words and phrases for Passover in Israel:

  • Spring – אביב (aviv), noun [m]
  • Arm – זרוע (z’roa’), noun [f]
  • Egypt – מצרים (mitz’rayim), noun [f]
  • Passover – פסח (Pesakh), noun [m]
  • Red Sea – ים סוף (Yam Suf), noun [m]
  • Pilgrimage – עליה לרגל (aliya la-regel), noun [f]
  • Afikoman – אפיקומן (Afikoman), noun [m]
  • Aaron – אהרון (Aharon), noun [m]
  • 10 Plagues – עשר מכות (Eser makot), noun [f]
  • Song of Songs – שיר השירים (Shir ha`shirim), noun [m]
  • Passover Sacrifice – קורבן פסח (Korban Pesakh), noun [m]
  • Pharaoh – פרעה (Par-oh), noun [m]
  • Moses – משה (Moshe), noun [m]
  • Matzo – מצה (matzah), noun [f]
  • Maror – מרור (maror), noun [m]
  • Hametz – חמץ (khametz), noun [m]
  • Freedom – חירות (kherut), noun [f]
  • Cleaning – נקיון (nikayon), noun [m]
  • Charoseth – חרוסת (kharoset), noun [f]

Also be sure to head over to our Passover vocabulary list! Here, you can listen to the pronunciation of each word and practice along with the recordings.

Final Thoughts

The Jewish Passover is a defining holiday for Jews in Israel and around the world, so we hope you enjoyed learning about it with us! What are some of the important religious holidays in your country? 

If you liked this lesson and want to continue exploring Israeli culture and the Hebrew language, make sure to explore HebrewPod101.com and take advantage of our numerous resources. Our free vocabulary lists, online dictionary, and numerous audio and video lessons will help you reach your language learning goals sooner than you think! 

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Shavuot: Celebrating the Feast of Weeks in Israel

With roughly three-quarters of its population claiming the Jewish religion, Israel is a country whose history and culture largely revolve around Judaism. With this in view, there may be no better place to celebrate the biggest Jewish holidays!

The Feast of Weeks, or שבועות (Shavuot) in Hebrew, is one of three extremely important Jewish holidays. In this article, you’ll learn about this holiday’s origins, how Jews celebrate it today, and more interesting facts.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is the Feast of Weeks?

The Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot, is a major Jewish holiday that holds special status as a עליה לרגל (aliya la-regel), or “pilgrimage,” day. There are only two other Jewish holidays that are considered pilgrimage days: Passover and Sukkot.

The Shavuot holiday is thought to be the day on which the Torah was given to Israel (though this is in dispute), and it also marks the end of the wheat harvesting season. In particular, this is when the Counting of the Omer—a period of time lasting שבעה שבועות (shiva shavuot), or “seven weeks,” from the second day of Passover—comes to an end.

There are several mentions of the Feast of Weeks in the Bible’s Old Testament, and it goes by several different names, including Festival of Reaping and Day of the First Fruits. Now, you may be wondering if there’s any connection between the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost—there is! Pentecost was the name that Hellenistic Jews gave this holiday.

2. When is the Feast of Weeks This Year?

A Calendar Showing Many Days

According to the Jewish calendar, the Feast of Weeks is celebrated on the sixth day of Sivan, and ends on the seventh day. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years on the Gregorian calendar.

Start Date
(Sunset)
End Date
(Nightfall)
2020 May 28 May 30
2021 May 17 May 19
2022 June 5 June 7
2023 May 26 May 28
2024 June 12 June 14
2025 June 1 June 3
2026 May 21 May 23
2027 June 10 June 12
2028 May 30 June 1
2029 May 19 May 21

3. How is Shavuot Celebrated?

A Variety of Dairy Products

As mentioned earlier, the Jewish holiday Shavuot is also referred to as the Day of the First Fruits. This is because, during the time of the Holy Temple, Shavuot was a day for Jews to bring the first fruits of the harvest (called bikkurim) as a sacrifice. Beginning in the twentieth century, many Jewish farming communities started the tradition of having a bikkurim-bringing ceremony, complete with singing, dancing, and a parade. Even young children participate in bikkurim-bringing ceremonies in school, where they wear לבן (lavan), or “white,” and arrive at school with a basket of fruit.

Other common traditions include a liturgical poem-reading in the morning, a reading of the Book of Ruth, and a session of studying the Torah all night long. Secular Jews have their own version of this Shavuot tradition, in which they gather together to study or discuss current events or philosophical/social issues.

Some people refer to Shavuot as the “holiday of water.” This is because another common tradition is to squirt people with מָיִם (mayim), or “water,” which is thought to prevent those squirted from being harmed for the duration of the year.

Finally, many Jews like to eat dairy products, called מוצרי חלב (muts’rei khalav), during the Feast of Weeks. Some favorite foods include cheeses, cakes, and casseroles!

4. Why Do We Eat Dairy on Shavuot?

So, why dairy?

This tradition is thought to have stemmed from the fact that the Jewish dietary laws (called Kashrut) were given to Jews along with the Torah. Because this took place on the Sabbath, the Jews were unable to comply with the dietary laws on that day. As a result, they ate only dairy products during Shavuot.

Today, Israelis love to go out on picnics to enjoy a variety of dairy dishes!

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Shavuot

The Torah Scroll and Harvested Foods

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for the Feast of Weeks!

Hebrew Romanization English Part of Speech
+
Gender
לבן lavan “white” Adj. [m.]
מָיִם mayim “water” N. [m.]
מוצרי חלב muts’rei khalav “dairy products” N. [m.]
שבועות Shavuot “Shavuot” N. [m.]
עליה לרגל aliya la-regel “pilgrimage” N. [f.]
בועז Boaz “Boaz” N. [m.]
עומר Omer “omer unit” N. [m.]
הושענות Hoshanot “hosanna” N. [f.]
קציר katsir “harvest” N. [m.]
ארבעים ותשעה ימים arba’im va-tesha yamim “forty-nine days” N. [m.]
שבעה שבועות shiva shavuot “seven weeks” N. [m.]
רות Rut “Ruth” N. [f.]
תיקון ליל שבועות Tikun Leil Shavuot “Rectification for Shavuot Night”
גיור Giyor “conversion” N. [m.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to visit our Feast of Weeks vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We’re sure you can see now why the Feast of Weeks is such a staple observation for Jews, religious and secular alike. Did you learn anything new today about Israeli culture? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to continue learning, HebrewPod101.com has several articles about Israeli culture and the Hebrew language for you:

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Hanukkah: Celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights

Each year, Jews celebrate the Festival of Lights, better known as Hanukkah. One of the most significant Jewish holidays, Hanukkah commemorates key turning points in Jewish history.

In this article, you’ll learn about the Hanukkah story, the most popular Hanukkah traditions, and more interesting facts about the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is Hanukkah?

The Hanukkah holiday contains eight days of “thanking.” These days were amended by the Israeli sages during the Second Temple period as a memory of the following:

  • Victory in the Hasmonean Rebellion
  • The reinitiation of the temple
  • The miracle of the oil can

1- History of Hanukkah

In the year 167 B.C., the Hasmoneans started to lead an uprising against the Greek Seleucids ruling in Israel, which was called the Hasmonean Rebellion, or Maccabean Revolt, due to the “destruction commands.” These were prohibitions imposed by foreign rulers that kept Jews from observing the main Jewish commandments.

In the year 164 B.C., the rebels succeeded in liberating Jerusalem and the temple from the Greek regime, under which the temple was inactive for three years. The date of the holiday was set at the peak of the struggle—the days of the liberation of the temple and Jerusalem.

2- Miracle of the Oil

The story of Hanukkah’s miracle appears in the Babylonian Talmud.

According to the story, when the Hasmoneans sought to renew the activity of the temple, they ran into a problem because they didn’t have enough pure olive oil to light the lamp. Eventually, one can was found that contained oil that should have lasted only one day. But, miraculously, it was used to light the lamp’s candles for eight days.

To celebrate this miracle, sages set the Hanukkah holiday to last eight days. Lighting a Hanukkah candle is the main commandment that characterizes Hanukkah. According to the commandment, you have to light a candle on each night of Hanukkah.

2. When is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah is an eight-night period of celebration. Celebrations of Hanukkah start on the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s start and end dates on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years:

Starts Ends
2019 December 22 December 30
2020 December 10 December 18
2021 November 28 December 6
2022 December 18 December 26
2023 December 7 December 15
2024 December 25 January 2
2025 December 14 December 22
2026 December 4 December 12
2027 December 24 January 1
2028 December 12 December 20

3. Hanukkah Celebrations and Traditions

To remember the miracle of the jug of oil, Hanukkah is celebrated with the tradition of eating foods fried in oil. Some favorite Hanukkah foods include potato pancakes, doughnuts, and Sfinj—special fried doughnuts eaten by Jews of North African origin.

Another tradition meant to memorialize the miracle is playing with the Sevivon, a toy that spins about its axis. This toy has letters which appear in two versions. In Israel, the letters are Nun, Gimel, Peh, and Heh, meaning “a big miracle happened here.” In exile, the letters are Nun, Gimel, Peh, and Shin, meaning “a big miracle happened there.”

During Hanukkah, it’s customary to give the kids “Hanukkah gelt,” which are traditionally low-value coins. American chocolatiers of the twentieth century designed chocolate coins wrapped in thin silver or gold wrappers, which are sometimes used as a substitute for actual coins.

And, of course, the most important Hanukkah observation is that of lighting one of the eight candles each night.

4. Many Names

A Rededication

Hanukkah is known by a few other names, though these are much less popular. Do you know what they are?

  • The Holiday of Lights
  • The Holiday of Miracles
  • The Holiday of Courage
  • The Holiday of Light

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Hanukkah

Doughnuts

Here’s the essential Hebrew vocabulary you should know for Hanukkah!

  • סופגניה (suf’ganiyah) — “Doughnut”
  • חנוכה (khanuka) — “Hanukkah”
  • מנורה (menorah) — “Menorah”
  • שמונה לילות (shmona Leilot) — “Eight nights”
  • סביבון (svivon) — “Dreidel”
  • מכבים (Makabim) — “Maccabees”
  • חנוכיה (Khannukiah) — “Hanukkah Menorah”
  • מעטים מול רבים (me’atim mul rabim) — “The few against the many”
  • סורים יוונים (Surim- yevanim) — “Syrian Greeks”
  • חנוכה (khanukkah) — “Rededication”
  • לאטקה (Latka) — “Potato pancake”
  • שמן (shemen) — “Oil”
  • נס (nes) — “Miracle”
  • בית המקדש הראשון (beit ha`mikdash Ha`rishon) — “First Temple”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Hanukkah vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

Hanukkah is a holiday steeped in a rich culture and significant historical moments. What are your thoughts on the Jewish Festival of Lights? Did you learn something new? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about Hebrew culture and Jewish holidays, you may find the following pages on HebrewPod101.com useful:

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Happy Hebrew learning! 🙂

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Day of Atonement: The Holy Day of Yom Kippur

Each year, Jews observe Yom Kippur—a holiday dedicated to sincere repentance and forgiveness, and sometimes referred to as the Day of Atonement. On this holy day, not only do Jews ask God for forgiveness, but they forgive the sins and hurts that others have done to them, and ask forgiveness from them as well. This is a solemn day, but one of joy in the abundance of forgiveness, and of peace. The most basic Yom Kippur meaning is that of repentance and atonement.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, including the most common traditions involving repentance and reflection. Learning about a Jewish observance as important as Yom Kippur is vital if you want to really see the culture and religion of Israel for what it is. And as any successful language-learner can tell you, this is an important step in mastering a country’s language.

At HebrewPod101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative. So let’s get started, and begin to discover the Yom Kippur significance in Israel.

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1. What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Hakippurim, also known as Yom Kippur, is considered one of the holiest days in the Jewish year. It’s a holiday of forgiveness and atonement for sins, when the Torah requires us to afflict our souls.

While Yom Kippur atonement is the basis of this holiday, it isn’t a sad day. For on Yom Kippur, forgiveness abounds; this repentance comes with the promise of forgiveness and absolution by God. On this day, we fast and ask God to forgive us for our sins.

2. When is the Day of Yom Kippur?

Days of Repentance

The date of Yom Kippur varies from year to year. For your convenience, here’s a list of when Yom Kippur is observed on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: October 8
  • 2020: September 27
  • 2021: September 15
  • 2022: October 4
  • 2023: September 24
  • 2024: October 11
  • 2025: October 1
  • 2026: September 20
  • 2027: October 10
  • 2028: September 29

3. Yom Kippur Observances

Person Repenting

The best-known tradition is fasting. The goal is to afflict our bodies as a precondition for atonement, but it’s also meant to release people from their bodily constraints, so that they can focus on soul-searching. Special prayers are said on Yom Kippur. Those offering Yom Kippur prayers admit their sins and ask God for forgiveness. This is also a day we ask forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged throughout the year.

Most of the people in Israel aren’t religious, but on Yom Kippur, a special atmosphere permeates every part of the country. There are no radio or television broadcasts, stores and restaurants are closed, and most Jewish residents fast. The airports and seaports are closed, and there are no vehicles on the streets. The streets fill with people wearing holiday clothes, and children and young adults ride their bikes on the empty streets. All of Israel calms down for a day.

On Yom Kippur, there is nearly no vehicle or air traffic. Ships and trains don’t run, so the level of air pollution on Yom Kippur is significantly lower than any other time of year!

4. Yom Kippur & Shoes

What Yom Kippur custom involves shoes, and in what way?

The affliction of the soul required on Yom Kippur contains several prohibitions, including a prohibition on eating and drinking, a prohibition on washing oneself, and even a prohibition on wearing leather shoes. On Yom Kippur, observant Jews wear shoes made of rubber or cloth.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Yom Kippur

Man Deep in Thought

Here’s the essential vocabulary you need to know for Yom Kippur!

  • אופניים (ofanayim) — bicycle
  • יום כיפור (Yom Kippur) — Yom Kippur
  • תשובה (tshuva) — repentance
  • תפילה (tfilah) — prayer
  • כל נדרי (Kol Nidrei) — Kol Nidrei
  • צום (tsom) — fasting
  • שערי שמים (sha’arei shamayim) — gates of Heaven
  • סליחה (slikha) — forgiveness
  • השתקפות (hishtakfut) — reflection
  • עשרת ימי תשובה (Aseret Yemei Tshuva) — Ten Days of Repentance
  • שירה (shira) — singing
  • חטא (khet) — sin
  • אבינו מלכנו (Avinu Malkenu) — Our Father our King
  • עצירה מוחלטת (atsira mukhletet) — complete stop
  • קהילה (kehila) — community
  • ספר יונה (sefer yona) — Book of Jonah
  • תפילת העמידה (tfilat ha`amidah) — Amidah

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and alongside relevant images, check out our Yom Kippur vocabulary list!

How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Master Hebrew

What are your thoughts on the Yom Kippur holiday in Israel? Do you have a similar holiday in your country, or another day where things slow down and become more peaceful? Let us know in the comments; we always look forward to hearing from you!

To continue learning about Hebrew culture and the language, explore HebrewPod101.com. We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

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We know that learning Hebrew can be overwhelming, so at HebrewPod101, we do everything we can to make the learning process as easy and painless as possible. Know that your hard work will pay in the long run, and we’ll be here to help you on each step of your language-learning journey!

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A Compact Hebrew Slang Dictionary for Texting and the Web

Thumbnail

It goes without saying that more and more of our lives are lived in the virtual sphere with each passing year. This is true throughout the developed world, and Israel is no exception. While it would be difficult to gauge exact numbers, there is no doubt that Israelis are communicating more via texts and chats than ever before. And, as is the case wherever people communicate via digital means, new Hebrew internet slang words have emerged. They’re characterized by the adaptation of words and expressions (both Hebrew and foreign) for use on the internet and social media, as well as by a penchant for brevity and immediacy to keep up with the pace of instant messages.

Even before the internet age, Hebrew was, in fact, already full of pithy, precision-aimed words and phrases fashioned for ease of utterance and immediacy. This is partly due to the fact that, Hebrew being an abjad, it’s easy to create acronyms and abbreviations by compounding consonants and playing with vowels to form new words. Moreover, with service in the IDF compulsory for all citizens, male and female, military lingo is also quite prevalent in the daily speech of most Israelis. Indeed, the IDF is a veritable factory churning out slang, usually in the form of abbreviated words and phrases to make communication more brief and efficient—crucial in military settings. However, the same features are clearly appealing to Israel’s fast-paced civilian population, which seems to run on a mixture of high-strength caffeine and pure gumption.

Various Slang Words and Phrases

Notwithstanding the influence of military slang on the shortening and condensing of Hebrew words and phrases, there is no doubt that the internet age has given rise to a whole new jargon that seems designed to update itself constantly. This comes much to the chagrin of parents, who often have no idea what their kids are talking about, and it poses a similar challenge to Hebrew language learners. Many students struggle to keep up with the barrage of slang streaming from the mouths and devices of young Israelis—slang that is nowhere to be found in any textbook.

Obviously, if you plan on spending any time in Israel or communicating with Israelis, it’s crucial to have at least some familiarity with internet, text, and social media slang, even if you don’t end up speaking pure code like a Hebrew millennial. 

And as always, HebrewPod101 has got you covered! To this end, we’ve compiled the top 30 Hebrew internet slang words and phrases. While some will seem totally foreign to you, rest assured that quite a few, derived as they are from English, should be wholly familiar to you. Let’s jump right in!

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  1. Slang Related to the Internet / Social Media
  2. Slang Verbs Related to the Internet
  3. Slang for Using or Describing the Internet / Social Media
  4. Slang Abbreviations / Acronyms for Using or Describing the Internet
  5. Internet / Social Media Slang from English
  6. Head Spinning at All the Hebrew Slang? Let HebrewPod101 Screw it Back on Straight for You!

1. Slang Related to the Internet / Social Media

Like Icon

These first few Hebrew slang terms shouldn’t be too daunting, considering that most of them are similar in pronunciation to their English counterparts. Take a look. 

1. אינסטה
Instah
“Insta” (as in Instagram)

This one is pretty straightforward. Just as Instagram has merited a shortened form of its name in English, Israelis, too, sometimes refer to it by this abbreviation. Here’s an example sentence to illustrate:

  • ראית את מה שרותי העלתה לאינסטה שלה?
    Ra’it et mah she-Ruti he’eltah la-Instah shelah?
    “Did you see what Ruti put on her Insta?”

2. ווצאפ
Whatzap
Whatsapp

The difference between the normal form (וואטסאפ, Whatsap) of this ubiquitous instant messaging app and this shortened form may be slight, but hey, every nanosecond counts! You’ll notice that the only change is the substitution of the letters ט (tet) and ס (samekh) with the single letter צ (tzadi). Here’s an example of how it might be used in a sentence:

  • אני תכף מתקשר אליך בחזרה בווצאפ.
    Ani tekhef mitkasher eilekha be-khazarah be-Whatzap.
    “I’ll call you right back on Whatsapp.”

3. פייס
Feys
“Face” (as in Facebook)

Here’s yet another abbreviated form of a popular social media platform, which Israelis definitely love using just as much as the rest of the world.

  • ראיתי בפייס שהתחתנת. מזל טוב!
    Ra’iti ba-Fays she-hitkhatanta. Mazal tov!
    “I saw on Face that you got married. Congratulations!”

4. פיפל
pipel
“people” (in an online community)

This one might seem totally foreign upon first inspection, but if you look a bit more closely and factor in the way most Israelis pronounce English vowels, you’ll see that this is simply the English word “people” pronounced as if it were a Hebrew word. This loanword is used in a way that linguists call “narrowing,” which is where a word with a broad definition gets used to express something more specific. In this case, Israelis use the word to describe people who form an online community of some kind, such as members of a Facebook group or a forum.

  • שלום לכם, פיפל. כולכם מוזמנים לאירוע שלנו בשבוע הבא. לחצו כאן לפרטים.
    Shalom lakhem, pipel. Kulkhem muzmanim la-eyru’a shelanu ba-shavu’a haba. Lakhatzu kan li-fratim.
    “Hi there, people. You’re all invited to our event next week. Click here for details.”

5. טוקבק
tokbek
“user comments section/user comment”

This is another example of a seemingly unfamiliar word that’s really just English filtered through Israeli pronunciation. Tokbek actually comes from “talkback,” originating with early (relative to the age of the internet) online forums where users were invited to post feedback. In Israel, this word is used to refer to either the comments section or a specific comment on a webpage, social media account, or online group.

  • קראתי היום טוקבק שלפיו ראש הממשלה לא ישרוד עוד שנה עם כל האישומים נגדו.
    Karati ha-yom tokbek she-le-fiv rosh ha-memshalah lo yisrod ‘od shanah ‘im kol ha-ha’eeshumim negdo.
    “I read a user comment that says the prime minister won’t make it through another year with all the charges against him.”

2. Slang Verbs Related to the Internet

Graphic Depicting the Internet

Now let’s have a look at some verbs related to the internet. Remember that verbs are words that express actions or states. Hebrew is unique in that it almost seems to invite the formation of new verbs created from existing nouns, or even abbreviations and acronyms. This is thanks to its being an abjad, as well as to the fact that different verb forms (binyanim) inherently express a given sort of function or relationship. For instance, התפעל (hitpa’el) always expresses the reflexive, where a verb is acting on its own agent.

Here are the top Hebrew verbs you’ll need to navigate the Net. For a refresher on verb conjugation, check out this article.

6. לאנפרנד
le’anfrend
“to unfriend”

This one is another loanword from English. Interestingly, despite its flexibility in many other areas, Hebrew has no inherent system for creating a negative form of a word. This may be why Israelis have opted to simply adopt this English word instead of forming a proper Hebrew word for the act of ending an online relationship.

  • נמאס לי מכל השטויות שניר מפרסם בפייס! אני הולך לאנפרנד אותו אם הוא לא מפסיק לקשקש לי שם.
    Nimas li me-kol ha-shetuyot she-Nir mefarsem ba-Fays. Ani holekh le’anfrend oto im hu lo mafsik lekashkesh li sham.
    “I’m sick of all the stupid stuff Nir posts on Facebook. I’m going to unfriend him if he doesn’t stop with the nonsense there.”

7. להטריל
lehatril
to troll

Again, this one comes straight from English, although you can see from the vowels how the word was adapted to the הפעיל (hif’il) verb form. This form generally expresses a transitive action, as in one done by an agent to an object.

  • איזה מעצבן! אין לי מושג מי זה, אבל מישהו ממשיך להטריל אותי בטוויטר.
    Eyzeh me’atzben! Eyn li musag mi zeh, aval mishehu mamshikh lehatril oti be-Tviter.
    “This is so annoying! I have no idea who he is, but someone keeps trolling me on Twitter.”

8. ללייקק
lelaykek
“to like”

Not to be confused with the verb ללקק (lelakek), which means “to lick,” this is yet another loanword from English. It’s another example of narrowing, as it’s used in Hebrew only to refer to “liking” in terms of clicking “Like,” rather than general enjoyment or appreciation of something or someone.

  • ראית כמה אנשים לייקקו את התמונות שהעלית באינסטה שלך?
    Ra’it kamah anashim liykeku et ha-temunot she-he’elayt ba-Instah shelakh?
    “Did you see how many people liked the pictures you posted to your Insta?”

9. לגגל
legagel
“to Google”

Just as in English, the popularity of the search engine Google is such that it merits its very own verb. Don’t get this word confused with לגלגל (legalgel), though, which means to turn or spin something/someone around.

  • -מה היא עיר הבירה של סלובניה? -אין לי מושג. אני אגגל את זה.
    -Mah hi ‘ir ha-birah shel Sloveniyah? -Eyn li musag. Ani agagel et zeh.
    -“What’s the capital of Slovenia?” -“I have no idea. I’ll Google it.”

10. לאמ;לק
le’amlek
“to shorten/summarize (an online text)”

It takes a bit of analysis to get to the bottom of this one. The verb we see here originates from the acronym אמ;לק (AM;LK), which is once again from English, though this one has been properly translated. The English inspiration is the acronym TL;DR, which stands for “too long; didn’t read.” In similar fashion, the Hebrew אמ;לק stands for ארוך מדי;לא קראתי (arokh miday; lo karati), meaning “too long; didn’t read.” This verb is derived from the same, and it means to render something more easily readable by shortening or summarizing it.

  • למי שלא היה לו זמן לקרוא את המאמר המלא, אמ;לקתי אותו.
    Le-mi she-lo hayah lo zman likro et ha-ma’amar ha-male, im;lakti oto.
    “For anyone who didn’t have time to read the full article, I’ve summarized it.”

3. Slang for Using or Describing the Internet / Social Media

Hebrew Text slang

This category is somewhat of a mixed bag, but these are all popular Hebrew slang words or phrases that are used to describe either the internet or social media, or ones that are generally only used in that context. Note that the first three words have different meanings when used in other contexts, while the latter three are specific to netspeak.

11. צהוב
tzahov
“juicy” (lit.: “yellow”)

While this word simply means “yellow,” it’s used online to describe particularly juicy gossip. Most likely, this usage originates from the term “yellow journalism.” Indeed, tabloids (which generally print yellow journalism) are known in Hebrew as צהובונים (tzehubonim).

  • וואו, זה עדכון די צהוב. חשבתי שהוא נשוי…
    Wow. Zeh ‘idkun dey tzahov. Khashavti she-hu nasuy…
    “Wow. That’s a pretty juicy update. I thought he was married…”

12. שיימינג
sheyming
“shamed”

While this one can obviously have a different connotation in other contexts, when used online, this typically refers to the practice of shaming someone on social media via original posts referencing or tagging someone or through tokbekim (see above).

  • ראיתם שהיא פרסמה את ההודעה הקריפית שלו? איזה שיימינג!
    Ra’item she-hi pirsema et ha-hoda’ah ha-kripit shelo? Eyzeh sheyming!
    “Did you see that she published his creepy message? He’s totally shamed!”

13. טירוף
madness
“craziness” (lit.: “madness”)

This word, used as an intensifier, could be considered to have entered the mainstream of Hebrew speech (at least among younger generations), but it’s certainly used frequently online.

  • שמעת את השיר החדש של דודו טסה עם האמן האמירתי ההוא? פשוט טירוף!
    Shama’t et ha-shir ha-khadash shel Dudu Tasah ‘im ha-oman ha-emirati ha-hu? Pashut teruf!
    “Have you heard Dudu Tassa’s new song with that artist from the UAE? It’s simply madness!”

14.חחח
kh…
*indicates laughing (c.f. “LOL”)

This one is pretty straightforward. Just as LOL is used to indicate that you’ve found something humorous, Hebrew uses the letter ח (khet) repeated—usually three times, but sometimes more—to indicate laughter online.

  • חחח… איזה קליפ אדיר!
    Kh… Eyzeh klip adir!
    “LOL… What a great clip!”

15. מואה
mu’ah
“mwah” (*sound of a kiss)

Similar to the word above, this is simply the sound of a kiss written out.

  • כמה שאני אוהבת אתכם, חמודים! מואה!
    Kamah she-ani ohevet etkhem, khamudim! Mu’ah!
    “I love you guys so much, cuties! Mwah!”

16. פחח
pkh…
*indicates ridicule (c.f. “haha”)

This is another attempt to render in text what we would normally express vocally in a face-to-face or phone conversation. Obviously, the sounds that go with different emotions vary from language to language, so just roll with it!

  • פחח, איזה עלוב המורה שלנו.
    Pkh, eyzeh aluv ha-moreh shelanu.
    Haha, how lame is our teacher.”

4. Slang Abbreviations / Acronyms for Using or Describing the Internet

URL

Though we’ve already seen some abbreviations and acronyms, this category is exclusive to these. While we’ve provided pronunciation for these, note that they are generally reserved for written communications and are therefore not spoken out loud. Also note that while acronyms in Hebrew tend to feature a double apostrophe between the penultimate and ultimate letters, these are often omitted in online settings—once again, in the interests of expediency. 

All that said, here’s some common internet slang in Hebrew in the form of abbreviations and acronyms. 

17. בלת”ק = בלי לקרוא תגובות קודמות
BALTAK = beli likro teguvot kodmot
“without having read previous posts”

  • בלת”ק, נראה לי שמי שפרסם את זה לא יודע בכלל על מה הוא מדבר.
    BALTAK, nireh li she-mi she-pirsem et zeh lo yode’a bikhlal ‘al mah hu medaber.
    Without having read previous posts, it seems to me that the person who posted this doesn’t even know what he’s talking about.”

18. אמ;לק = ארוך מדי; לא קראתי
AMLEK = arokh miday; lo karati
“too long; didn’t read”

We saw the verb form of this previously. As we mentioned, this is the Hebrew equivalent of English’s TL;DR.

  • אמ;לק אבל נראה לי מעניין.
    AMLEK aval nireh li me’anyen.
    TL;DR but looks interesting.”

19. חיב”ס = חי בסרט
KHAYBS= khay/ah be-seret
“lives in a movie” (i.e. “dreaming”)

The phrase חי בסרט (khay be-seret) is used quite commonly in Hebrew to refer to someone who is dreaming, as if imagining life as a movie. This acronym, which carries the same meaning, is used strictly in posts and texts.

  • היא באמת חושבת שיש לה סיכוי איתו? היא פשוט חיה בסרט.
    Hi be-emet khoshevet she-yesh lah sikuy ito? Hi pashut khaya be-seret.
    “Does she really think she stands a chance with him? She’s just dreaming.”

20. משו
mashu
*short form of משהו (mashehu) – “something”

There isn’t much to say about this one except that young people in Israel must really be in a rush if they deem the omission of one letter to be a worthy gain in terms of time or effort. But, as we’ve seen, they certainly do!

  • תן לי להגיד לך משו: אתה חי בסרט.
    Ten li lehagid lekha mashu: atah khay be-seret.
    “Let me tell you something: you’re dreaming.”

21. חש = חושב את עצמו/חושבת את עצמה
KHASH = khoshev et ‘atzmo/khoshevet et ‘atzmah
“think he/she is”

This particular phrasing never has anything but a negative connotation, as we’re implying that a person believes him/herself to be something he/she is not.

  • מה היא חש? מלכת הפייס?
    Mah hi KHASHA? Malkat ha-Fays?
    “Who does she think she is? The queen of Face?”

5. Internet / Social Media Slang from English

Text Bubble with American Flag

We’ve already seen quite a number of loans from English, but this last category should contain words and phrases that you can easily recognize from their resemblance to (if not their mirroring of) their English counterparts.

22. גאד, אומייגאד
gad, omaygad
*from “oh my God/OMG”

It’s funny that Hebrew culture forbids taking the Lord’s name in vain, but apparently not if you do so in English! This one should be simple enough to identify.

  • אומייגאד! איזה מכוער יצאתי בתמונה הזאת!
    Omaygad! Eyzeh mekho’ar yatzati ba-temunah ha-zot!
    OMG! How ugly I came out in this picture!”

23. וונאבי
wanabi
*from “wannabe”

No, this is not the name of some ancient ruin site. Rather, it’s just the same slang word we know from English rendered in Hebrew!

  • איזה וונאבי אלכס! הוא בכלל לא יודע מה זה מטאל.
    Eyzeh wanabi Aleks! Hu bikhlal lo yode’a mah zeh metal.
    “What a wannabe Alex is. He doesn’t even know what metal is!”

24. יאפ
yap
*from “yup”

This one shouldn’t be too hard to work out, though as we’ve seen, Israelis’ approximation of English vowels might throw you off the first time you hear this uttered.

  • -בא לך לראות סרט אצלי הערב? –יאפ. אני אביא את השתייה.
    -Ba lakh lirot seret etzli ha-’erev? –Yap. Ani avi et ha-shtiyah.
    -“Feel like a movie at my place tonight?” -“Yup. I’ll bring drinks.”

25. יולו
YOLO
*from “YOLO (you only live once)”

  • -אז מה אתה אומר? צניחה חופשית בסופ”ש? -יאפ, יולו.
    -Az mah atah omer? Tznikhah khofshit ba-sofa”sh? -Yap, YOLO.
    -“So, what do you say? Skydiving this weekend?” -“Yup, YOLO.”

26. לאב
lav
*from “love”

Obviously, Hebrew has its own word for love, אהבה (ahavah), but saying it in English is just so much cooler. Or, as we say in Hebrew, יותר קול (yoter kul).

  • לאב! התמונה הכי יפה שלך שראיתי אי פעם.
    Lav! Ha-temunah ha-khi yafah shelkha she-ra’iti ey pa’am.
    Love! The best picture I’ve ever seen of you.”

27. לול
LOL
“LOL”

As we saw previously, Hebrew has its own equivalent of this, but sometimes we just go ahead and use the original English version, Hebraicized, just for the heck of it.

  • לול! רואים שבאמת עשיתם בלגן במסיבה.
    LOL! Ro’im she-be-emet ‘asitem balagan ba-mesibah.
    LOL! You can see that you guys really made a mess at the party.”

28. נופ
nop
“nope”

Another pretty obvious one. You’d think Hebrew’s own word for no, לא (lo), would be short enough, but once again, it seems it’s just more stylish to use English slang.

  • -כבר התרשמת לסמסטר הבא? -נופ, אבל אני אעשה את זה מחר.
    -Kvar hitrashamt la-semester ha-ba? –Nop, aval ani a’aseh et zeh makhar.
    -“Have you already signed up for next semester?” -“Nope, but I’m going to do it tomorrow.”

29. סוואג
sweg
“swag”

This word originates from the English verb “swagger,” but, as in English, the netspeak word “swag” refers to someone or something supremely cool.

  • אפילו אם הם מהאסכולה הישנה, הביסטי בויז הם עדיין הכי סוואג שיש.
    Afilu im hem me-ha-escolah ha-yeshanah, ha-Bisti Boyz hem ‘adayin ha-khi sweg she-yesh.
    “Even if they’re old-school, the Beastie Boys are still as swag as it gets.”

30. קיי
key
“‘kay” (shortened form of “okay”)

Last but not least, Israelis have adopted this monosyllabic version of English’s “okay” as an alternative to the unquestionably more syllabic בסדר (be-seder) that’s generally used to express the same sentiment.

  • -מה אתה אומר? יוצאים לבירה במקום הרגיל? -קיי, אני כבר יוצא לשם.
    -Mah atah omer? Yotzim le-birah ba-makom ha-ragil? –Key, ani kvar yotze le-sham.
    -“What do you say? Should we go out for a beer at the usual place?” -” ‘Kay, I’m heading there now.”

6. Head Spinning at All the Hebrew Slang? Let HebrewPod101 Screw it Back on Straight for You!

As you can see, Hebrew—like most languages these days—is inundated by slang, particularly slang related to the internet, social media, and texting/instant messaging. These are words and phrases you’d be hard-pressed to find in conventional dictionaries, so your best bet will always be to consult a native speaker for clarity on meaning, usage, and pronunciation. That’s exactly why all of our teachers at HebrewPod101 are native speakers, in addition to being professional educators.

We’re committed to teaching you not only “correct” textbook Hebrew, but also Hebrew as it’s spoken by native speakers. This includes a lot of slang, both from netspeak and from the military (among others), so there’s a lot to wrap your head around. But there’s absolutely no need to do it alone! Check out our numerous resources categorized by skill and topic, and you’ll see an abundance of lessons on slang of all types.

We hope you’ve found today’s lesson useful, but we know that there’s simply an endless stream of slang cropping up seemingly by the minute. So let us know if you’ve run into a slang word or phrase in Hebrew that you can’t figure out that we haven’t covered here. We’re always delighted to hear from our students, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 10 Hebrew Movies

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Unlike Hollywood, Israel’s film industry has traditionally been much smaller-scale. Still, it has been growing steadily in recent years, particularly since many breakthroughs have made their way onto Netflix or were even redone as American remakes. Hebrew movies and cinema are characterized not only by a typically more intimate, less bombastic approach to treating human stories (with some notable exceptions), but also by mixing comedy and melodrama quite naturally—something surely representative of the Israeli experience. While one could argue that more and more movies coming out of Israel today are modeled after the Tinseltown blockbuster, there have traditionally been—and still are—many unique, independent gems that could only have been made in Israel, with its singular (and often quite insane) reality.

Marquee

In addition to giving you a great glimpse inside Israeli culture, watching Israeli films can without  a doubt go a long way toward helping you as a Hebrew language learner. This is true both in terms of the exposure to natural Hebrew as spoken by actors with varying backgrounds (including non-natives), as well as the chance to pick up on themes and cultural cues unique to Israeli society. Indeed, many Israeli films deal, unsurprisingly, with themes that are particularly relevant to the reality of life in Israel: immigrant stories, intercultural clashes, the military experience, religion and secularity, etc. By watching these films, you can not only enjoy some entertainment but also deepen your language abilities while enriching your cultural appreciation for the crazy hodgepodge that is Israeli culture.

Woman with Popcorn and Soda

While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of excellent Israeli films that have come out over the years—including a number of international prize winners—we’ve put together our list of the top ten Israeli movies specifically for Hebrew learners. We’ve made our choices with an aim to represent the diversity of Israeli society while offering you a mix of comedy, drama, and other genres. We’re confident that these Hebrew-language movies will be both enjoyable and educational. Just don’t forget to jot down a few new words and phrases from each one so you don’t forget them later! A choice quote from a classic Israeli film dropped at the right moment is just the thing to add that extra touch of authenticity to your Hebrew. For more tips on using movies for learning Hebrew, check out this article.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. גבעת חלפון אינה עונה
  2. חתונה מאוחרת
  3. מבצע סבתא
  4. סוף העולם שמאלה
  5. קדוש
  6. האושפיזין
  7. אדמה משוגעת
  8. לבנון
  9. פעם הייתי
  10. אלכס חולה אהבה
  11. HebrewPod101 is Your Go-To for Everything Hebrew


גבעת חלפון אינה עונה .1

Our first film, גבעת חלפון אינה עונה (Giv’at Khalfon Eynah ‘Onah), ineloquently translated as “Halfon Hill Doesn’t Answer,” is a true Israeli cult classic, indeed one of the very first to come out of Israeli cinema. First released in 1976, the movie is a satire of military life in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), specifically the experience of lackadaisical reservists stationed in the Sinai Desert. (This was before Israel ceded the territory to Egypt for peace.) 

The film features the comedy troupe הגשש החיוור (Ha-Gashash ha-Khiver), meaning “The Blind Tracker.” This trio is hands-down Israel’s most iconic comedy group, and have had a particular influence on modern Hebrew with their many word plays—much in the same way that William Shakespeare influenced English through his humorous wordsmithing. This movie is no exception, and there are quite a few phrases that have made their way into Hebrew’s lexicon via גבעת חלפון אינה עונה. 

Here are some of the choicest morsels, along with an explanation of each one and how it might be used in day-to-day speech.

  • לסרג’יו פנית, לא טעית.
    Le-Serjio panita, lo ta’ita.
    “You weren’t wrong to come to Sergio.” (lit.: “You’ve come to Sergio; you weren’t wrong.”)

This one, memorable for its end rhyme, is used to say something like, “You’ve got that right,” or, “You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.”

  • מניאקים. כל היחידה הזאת, מניאקים.
    Maniyakim. Kol ha-yekhidah ha-zot maniyakim.
    “Nut jobs. This whole unit is a bunch of nut jobs.”

This one, as you may have guessed, is used to say that everyone around you is crazy.

  • מצפון הים המכונה תיכון, ממזרח ישראל המכונה מדינה.
    Mi-tzafon ha-yam ha-mekhuneh Tikhon, mi-mizrakh Yisra’el ha-mekhunah medinah.
    “To the north, the sea known as the Mediterranean, to the east, Israel, known as a country.”

This famous quote perfectly encapsulates the self-effacing humor so typical of this comedy group, essentially questioning whether Israel can even be taken seriously enough to be considered a country.

2. חתונה מאוחרת

Shifting from the comedic realm to the melodramatic (although this film is not without comedy), Khatunah Me’ukheret, or “Late Marriage,” is a classic film starring Lior Ashkenazi in his breakthrough role as Zaza, a 30-something bachelor reluctant to marry despite pressure from his traditional Georgian family. As they attempt to arrange a suitable marriage for him, he secretly dates a somewhat older divorcée, Yehudit (played by Ronit Elkabetz), who also happens to be of Moroccan stock—a clash with Zaza’s Georgian roots, at least as far as his parents are concerned. 

In this bittersweet tale, Zaza must ultimately choose between his love and his family. It’s a wonderful exploration of various issues facing Israel’s immigrant communities, such as opening up to Israel’s multicultural panorama as well as transitioning to a more modern, less old-fashioned lifestyle. The film is also interesting for its mix of Hebrew with Georgian, spoken by Zaza’s family.

  • כאן יש להם משהו אחר. הם קוראים לזה אהבה.
    Kan yesh lahem mashehu akher. Hem korim le-zeh ahavah.
    “Here they have something else. They call it love.”

This quote, said by Zaza’s father when trying to arrange a marriage for his son with another Georgian family, exemplifies the generational disconnect: the younger generation seeking a marriage based on love and the older generation, looking back to life in Georgia, a marriage based on practical considerations.

Theater Seats

3. מבצע סבתא

Shifting back to the realm of comedy, this film is an absolute cult classic in Israel, and one which (similar to גבעת חלפון אינה עונה) has left a deep impression on modern Hebrew as a highly quoted movie. This Hebrew comedy movie centers around three brothers originally from a kibbutz. Two of them have moved off the kibbutz, while one remains behind. When the brothers’ grandmother (their only surviving family member, their parents having died years before) passes away, and the kibbutz refuses to pay for the funeral over a technicality, they must hatch an elaborate scheme to pull off her funeral themselves while also juggling other personal obligations in their lives. The film is a hilarious romp that also affords a glimpse into the sometimes truly bizarre world of the Israeli kibbutz, as well as how it contrasts with city life.

  • סבתא חיה מתה.
    Savta Khayah metah.
    “Grandma Chaya is dead.”

The joke here is that the name חיה (Khayah) also means “lives” or “is alive.” This is one of the phrases that can be used just to get a quick laugh, but it’s often applied to paradoxical situations.

  • יש לכם 20 שניות, שזה 5 שניות יותר מדי, להשלים. זוז!
    Yeish lakhem ‘esrim sh’niyot, she-zeh khamesh shniyot yoter miday, lehashlim. Zuz!
    “You have 20 seconds, which is five seconds too many, to make up. Move!”

This line is spoken by Crembo, one of the three brothers, who is an officer in the military, to his two brothers who are fighting. It’s a good example of military speech.

  • רק שלא תגמור לנו כמו מוטי בננה בציריך, הא?
    Rak she-lo tigmor lanu kemo Moti Bananah be-Tzirikh, ha?
    “Just don’t end up like Moti Banana in Zurich, huh?”

This line is a bit nebulous, but it’s clearly a reference to some cautionary tale about someone from the kibbutz who met a sad fate in Zurich. It can be used when mentioning a fate to be avoided.

4. סוף העולם שמאלה

Classic scene from the film

Yet another film about immigrants, Sof ha-’Olam Smolah or “Turn Left at the End of the World” in English, is particularly poignant. It examines the lives of עולים (‘olim, literally “ascenders”), or immigrants who arrive in the 1960s to a town developed for immigrant absorption in the middle of Israel’s Negev Desert. The immigrant community comprises mainly Indians and Moroccans, two obviously very distant cultures. Told through the lens of two young women, one from each culture, it examines the bonds of friendship, the challenges of maturity, and all the obstacles to integration faced by some of the poorer immigrant communities in the country. It’s worth noting that in Hebrew, סוף העולם שמאלה (sof ha-’olam smolah) is an expression roughly equivalent to “the middle of nowhere.”

  • השנה 1968. האדם עומד לנחות על הירח וסטודנטים מפגינים ברחובות פריז, אך נדמה כי דבר ממאורעות אלה אינו משפיע על החיים בעיירה קטנה ומבודדת במדבר הישראלי.
    Ha-shanah elef tsha’-me’ot shishim u-shmoneh. Ha-adam ‘omed linkhot ‘al ha-yare’akh ve-studentim mafginim bi-r’khovot Pariz, akh nidmeh ki davar mi-me’ora’ot eleh einoh mashpi’a ‘al ha-khayim be-ayarah ktanah u-mevudedet ba-midbar ha-Yisra’eli.
    “The year is 1968. Man is about to land on the moon, students are out protesting in the streets of Paris, but it would seem that none of these events have any effect on life in a small and isolated town in the Israeli desert.”

This is the opening narration to the film, and sets the stage for the events to follow.

Couple Watching Movies/TV on Couch

5. קדוש

Kadosh, or “Sacred” in English, is a painful but keen examination of life in Mea Shearim, one of the most famous ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. The story follows one couple unable to have children, a situation unacceptable enough in a world so centered on procreation (the first mitzvah or “commandment” in the Bible) that it is sufficient cause for annulling the matrimony, and another couple in a passionless marriage. 

The film examines the ultra-Orthodox world from the perspective of two sisters, the wives in the aforementioned couples, and the ways in which their freedom is inhibited by the highly controlling community. In particular, it challenges the ultra-Orthodox view that a woman’s sole function is to bear children. As the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) population of Israel hovers near two million, it is well worth familiarizing yourself with it to some extent if you plan to spend time in Israel, especially in Jerusalem.

  • אתה סובל בגלל שאין לנו ילדים. אתה סובל בגלל שאתה חושב שאנחנו חיים בחטא.
    Atah sovel biglal she-ein lanu yeladim. Atah sovel biglal she-atah khoshev she-anakhnu khayim be-kheit.
    “You’re suffering because we don’t have any children. You’re suffering because you think we live in sin.”

These lines are spoken by one of the main characters, Rachel, to her husband. They encapsulate the couple’s emotional and spiritual struggle, which is at the core of the film.

6. האושפיזין

Ha-Ushpizin, which refers to the traditional guests to the סוכה (sukkah) during the festival of סוכות (Sukkot), is another film that sheds light onto the insulated world of the ultra-Orthodox. This film, however, is of a much more lighthearted nature; it’s also far less condemning and much more conciliatory. This may have a lot to do with the film’s star, Shuli Rand, who himself became ultra-Orthodox after being non-religious for many years. Such people are called חוזרים בתשובה (khozrim be-t’shuvah) or literally “those who return to the answer,” and this film is one of the few that successfully captures all of the beauty of religious values and the religious lifestyle, while not shying away from its problems either. 

The plot follows a couple as they struggle to fulfill the mitzvah of hosting friends from the main character, Moshe’s, past life as a delinquent in their sukkah. It’s both humorous and profound, and a true work of art. It’s worth noting that Rand’s wife Michal, who plays Moshe’s wife, Mali, was not a professional actress but Rand insisted that he would only act opposite his wife due to religious restrictions on male-female intimacy outside matrimony.

  • בסדר, אני יודע שאתה שונא עצבות אבל אני מה זה בעצבות. כולי עצבות. גוש של עצבות. חס ושלום אני לא חושב שמגיע לי משהו, ריבונו של עולם. לא מגיע לי כלום, אבל האמת אני לא מבין. אני אגיד לך את האמת: אני לא מבין. לפעמים אני לא יודע מה אתה רוצה ממני. לפעמים נראה לי אתה הולך איתי קצת קשה מדי.
    Beseder, ani yode’a she-atah sone ‘atzvut aval ani mah zeh be-’atzvut. Kuli ‘atzvut. Gush shel ‘atzvut. Khas ve-shalom ani lo khosheiv she-magi’a li mashehu, Ribono shel ‘Olam. Lo magi’a li klum, aval ha-emet, ani lo mevin. Ani agid lekha et ha-emet: ani lo mevin. Lif’amim ani lo yode’a mah atah rotzeh mimeni. Lif’amim nir’eh li atah holekh iti ktzat kasheh miday.
    “Okay, I know You hate sadness, but I’m really deep in sadness. My whole being is sadness. A lump of sadness. God forbid that I should think I deserve anything, Ruler of the Universe. I don’t deserve a thing, but the truth is I don’t understand. I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t understand. Sometimes I don’t know what You want from me. Sometimes I feel like you’re a little too tough on me.”

These lines come from a poignant scene where Moshe is praying to God for enough money to celebrate the Sukkot holiday. They illustrate the particularly Jewish notion of negotiating with God.

Projector

7. אדמה משוגעת

Adamah Meshuga’at (literally “Crazy Earth,” but rendered in English as “Sweet Mud”) is a painful look at the problems of kibbutz society. Told mainly from the perspective of a young boy, it illustrates how the kibbutz fails to address issues that tax its rigid ideals of a socialist society. The main character, Dvir, must care for his mentally unstable mother, a task clearly unsuitable for a young boy. The plot follows various complications that arise from this situation, and is an overall critique of kibbutz life and its disruption of family life, which is often whitewashed in Israeli popular culture as a marvelous social experiment. While lopsided in focusing only on the negative aspects of kibbutz life, the film is a good opportunity to get an intimate look at this strange world, as well as its lexis.

  • תסתכלי פנימה ותשאלי את עצמך מה את יכולה לתת לקיבוץ.
    Tistakli p’nimah ve-tish’ali et ‘atzmekh mah at yekholah latet la-kibbutz.
    “Look inside yourself and ask what you can give the kibbutz.”

These lines are spoken to Dvir’s mentally ill mother, Miri, who obviously needs psychological help but is instead pushed to be a functional member of the kibbutz, come what may, ultimately leading her to break down.

8. לבנון

Levanon (“Lebanon”) is a chillingly intimate look at combat service in a tank during the very first days of the First Lebanon War. Following the model of Das Boot, the film is shot almost exclusively within the tank or through its own scopes, so that we really feel as though we are part of the crew. The unapologetically intense film portrays the tankists’ hopes and fears as well as the claustrophobia, noise, smells, etc. of the small space within the tank, while giving us a dirty but accurate picture of the horrors of war so many young Israelis must face during their service. Without making any political statements, it manages to humanize the stories of the individuals serving on the tank as well as their relationships as they depend on, and turn against, one another.

  • יוני 1982. היום הראשון למלחמה. אני מוצא את עצמי בטנק עם שלושה אנשים שאני לא מכיר. אני מוצא את עצמי בעולם שאין לי מושג איך נכנסתי לתוכו.
    Yuni elef tsha’-me’ot shmonim u-shtayim. Ha-yom ha-rishon la-milkhamah. Ani motzeh et ‘atzmi be-tank ‘im shloshah anashim she-ani lo makir. Ani motze et ‘atzmi be-’olam she-ein li musag eikh nikhnasti le-tokho.
    “June 1982. The first day of the war. I find myself in a tank with three people I don’t know. I find myself in a world that I’m unsure how I entered into.”

These lines, spoken by one of the crew members, perfectly captures the bizarre and frightening atmosphere of being sent to a foreign country in a tank with an ad hoc crew, and the uncertainty and surrealism of a young soldier suddenly finding himself at war.

Film Slate

9. פעם הייתי

Pa’am Hayiti (literally “Once I Was,” rendered in English as “The Matchmaker”) is a touching nostalgic film about Arik, an adolescent boy who finds himself spending the summer working as an assistant to a rather unusual matchmaker, Yankele, who specializes in finding partners for difficult “matches.” The film, which takes place in Haifa, 1968, is a wonderful examination of a country still figuring out its identity. It seems to tell this story through Haifa’s underbelly, focusing on outcasts and odd characters. It also examines the scars left by the Holocaust, as many of the immigrants are survivors. Additionally, it’s a good opportunity to hear the many accents of Hebrew as spoken by immigrants, or at least actors playing immigrants.

  • שדכן אמור לתת לא מה את רוצה, אלא מה את צריכה.
    Shadkhan amur latet lo mah at rotzah, ela mah at tz’rikhah.
    “A matchmaker should give you not what you want, but what you need.”
  • שדכן עם נשמה חושב קודם כול טוב על בנאדם. רואה צולע, אומר שידוך טוב – לא ירוץ אחרי בחורות. עיוור – מצוין, לא מסתכל ימינה שמאלה. אילמת – טוב מאוד, אין ויכוחים בבית.
    Shadkhan ‘im neshamah khoshev kodem kol tov ‘al ben’adam. Ro’eh tzole’a, omer shidukh tov – lo yarutz akharei bakhurot. ‘Iver – metzuyan, lo mistakel yeminah smolah. ‘ilemet – tov me’od, ein vikukhim ba-bayit.
    “A matchmaker with a soul first thinks well of a person. He sees a man with a limp, he says, a good match – he won’t go out chasing skirts. A blind man – excellent. He doesn’t look right and left. A mute woman – very good. No arguments at home.”

Both of these quotes capture the charming and heartwarming attitude of Yankele, who seems to truly wish to spread love—particularly to those others may deem unlovable—even as he himself clearly bears great suffering and loneliness.

10. אלכס חולה אהבה

Last but not least, Aleks Kholeh Ahavah (“Lovesick Alex”) is a comedy, for sure, but one that also carries the same whiff of nostalgia as The Matchmaker. This is unsurprising as Avi Nesher directed both films and is clearly communicating his own pining for times past, an Israel lost in its own race to catch up with modernity. 

This film is really a gallimaufry of genres, as it mixes linguistic and slapstick humor, melodrama, coming of age, romance, and even a bit of tragedy. The movie focuses on its title character’s journey from boyhood to manhood, his many antics with friends, and his crush on an aunt who comes to visit from Europe in search of her betrothed, whom she lost touch with during the Holocaust. Simply one of the greatest Hebrew films, and one that could only come from Israel.

  • בחורות ערומים זה חולירע!
    Bakhurot ‘arumim zeh kholerah!
    “Naked girls are cholera!”

This is one of the many great lines from Alex’s Russian immigrant teacher, whose Hebrew is truly awful despite the fact that he’s the one teaching the class. He makes Alex repeat this with the class after catching him with some playing cards showing topless women.

  • תשתה מים קרים תקבל אנגינה.
    Tishteh mayim karim tekabel anginah.
    “Drink cold water, you’ll get angina.”

This line comes as one of the many warnings to Alex from his mother, a stereotypical Polish worrywart mother (in Hebrew, אמא פולניה [imma Poloniyah], or “Polish mother” is synonymous with this).

  • ימח שמך טרוריסט שכמוך.
    Yimakh shimkha terorist she-kamokha.
    “May your name be blotted out, a terrorist such as you.”

This hilarious line comes from the rabbi teaching Alex to read his Torah portion for his bar mitzvah, after killing a fly with a swatter.

Top Verbs

11. HebrewPod101 is Your Go-To for Everything Hebrew

We hope you found today’s lesson a fun change of pace. It’s always important to switch things up when learning a language, both to keep things interesting and also to avoid burnout. Making an effort to learn Hebrew through movies is a great option, as long as you make sure to actually find a way to pick up a few words or phrases. Remember that the more exposure you can get, the better.

We here at HebrewPod101 are constantly updating our expansive online archives to ensure that all our Hebrew language learners have access to a broad array of materials in print, audio, and video. We also publish many lessons referring our learners to other media, so make sure to browse around. Let us know how you liked the movies! And don’t forget the popkoren, as we Israelis would say. Until next time, shalom!

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The Lag BaOmer Holiday: Rabbi Akiva, Bar Kochba & More

Lag BaOmer, the 33rd Day of the Omer, is one of the significant holidays on the calendar to Jews. From its association with Rabbi Akiva and the Bar Kochba revolt, the Lag BaOmer story is truly a staple of Jewish culture. And as any language learner knows, understanding a country’s culture is the most important factor in mastering its language!

At HebrewPod101.com, we hope to make your learning experience both fun and informative!

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1. What is the Lag BaOmer Holiday?

Israelites celebrate Lag Ba’omer to commemorate some events that occurred during the second century of the common era: the Bar Kochva revolt against the Romans, the end of the plague that killed thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students, and the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, an important rabbi and one of founding fathers of the Kabbalah.

2. When is Lag BaOmer?

A bundle of Harvest

The date of Lag BaOmer varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. However, it always takes place during the Hebrew month lyar, on the eighteenth day. For your convenience, here’s a list of the starting date for this holiday for the next ten years.

  • 2019: May 22
  • 2020: May 11
  • 2021: April 29
  • 2022: May 18
  • 2023: May 8
  • 2024: May 25
  • 2025: May 15
  • 2026: May 4
  • 2027: May 24
  • 2028: May 13

3. Reading Practice: Lag BaOmer Celebrations

Bonfire at Night

When it comes to Lag BaOmer celebrations, common ones include the Chabad Lag BaOmer parade and Lag BaOmer fires. Read the Hebrew text below to learn more about how people celebrate Lag BaOmer (and find the English translation directly below it).

המנהג המוכר ביותר של לג בעומר הוא המדורות. יש כמה הסברים למנהג. ההסבר הראשון קשור למרד בר-כוכבא: המורדים, שהונהגו בידי בר-כוכבא, הדליקו אש על ראשי ההרים כדי להפיץ את הידיעה על פרוץ המרד; לזכר האש הזו מדליקים מדורות בחג. ההסבר השני קשור לרבי שמעון בר יוחאי: מספרים שבליל מותו היה הבית של רבי שמעון מוקף באש, שלזכרה מדליקים מדורות.

ילדים ובני נוער ישראלים מתחילים להתכונן למדורה שבועות לפני התאריך המיועד, ויוצאים יחד לאסוף קרשים. בערב החג נפגשים כולם, מדליקים את המדורה, צולים בתוכה תפוחי אדמה ומרשמלו, יושבים סביבה ומשחקים משחקים, ולפעמים גם שרים שירים ומנגנים בגיטרה. הרבה פעמים המדורה נמשכת עד אור הבוקר.

מנהג נוסף של לג בעומר קשור גם הוא לרבי שמעון בר יוחאי, רב שהתנגד לשלטון הרומאי בארץ ישראל ושנחשב לאחד מאבות תורת הקבלה. קברו של רבי שמעון נמצא בהר מירון, ובכל שנה בלג בעומר עולים להר מירון עשרות אלפי אנשים לציין את יום פטירתו של רבי שמעון בחגיגה גדולה שנקראת הילולת בר יוחאי. החוגגים מדליקים מדורות, שרים, רוקדים וקוראים בספר הזוהר, ספר היסוד של תורת הקבלה.

The best-known Lag Ba’Omer tradition is lighting bonfires. There are several explanations for this tradition. The first is tied to the Bar Kochba revolt. The rebels, who were led by Bar Kochba, lit a bonfire on the mountaintops to spread word of the outbreak of the revolt. In memory of these fires, we light bonfires on the holiday. The second explanation concerns Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. We are told that when he passed away, his house was engulfed in flames, and we commemorate this by lighting bonfires.

Israeli children and young adults begin preparing for the bonfires weeks before the designated date, and they go out together to gather planks. On the night of the holiday, they all meet up, light a bonfire, roast potatoes and marshmallows in the fire, and sit around it and play games. Sometimes, they sing songs, and play the guitar. The bonfire can often last until daybreak.

Another Lag Ba’Omer custom is also tied to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a rabbi who opposed Roman rule of the Land of Israel and was considered to be among the founding fathers of the Kabbalah. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s grave is in Mount Meron, and every year, on Lag Ba’Omer, tens of thousands of people climb the mountain to commemorate the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon’s death in a big celebration called a “Hilulat Bar Yochai”. Participants light bonfires, sing, dance, and read from the Zohar, the foundational work of the teachings of the Kabbalah.

4. Lag BaOmer (Meron): Children’s First Haircuts

Many Israeli children participate in a special ceremony on Lag BaOmer. What is this ceremony called, and what is done at the ceremony?

Many traditional Jews don’t cut their children’s hair until they’re three years old. When a child reaches three years old, he’s taken to Hilulat Bar Yochai, in Mount Meron, and there, he gets his haircut as part of a festive ceremony known as a Halaka.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Lag BaOmer

Large Lion

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Lag BaOmer!

  • אריה (ar’ye) — lion
  • הר מרון (har meron) — Mount Meron
  • לג בעומר (la”g ba-Omer) — Lag BaOmer
  • מדורה (medurah) — bonfire
  • חאלאקה (Chalaka) — first hair cut ceremony
  • משואה (massua) — torch
  • רבי עקיבא (Rabbi Akiva) — Rabbi Akiva
  • מגפה (magefa) — plague
  • תספורת (tisporet) — haircut
  • ספירת העומר (sfirat ha-omer) — Counting of the Omer
  • עומר (omer) — bundle of harvest
  • בר כוכבא (bar kokhva) — Bar Kochba
  • ל”ג בעומר (lag ba-omer) — 33rd day of the Omer

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Lag BaOmer vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think of Lag BaOmer and the traditions it carries with it? Does it remind you of a holiday in your own country? Let us know in the comments! We always love to hear from you.

Interested in Hebrew culture and want to learn even more? Visit us at HebrewPod101.com! Read more blog posts on various aspects of the language and culture, check out our free vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow Hebrew learners on our community forum! If you want a one-on-one learning experience, you can also upgrade to (or create) a Premium Plus account to utilize our MyTeacher program!

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Watch TV in Hebrew: Top 10 Israeli TV Shows for Learners

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One of the best ways to study any language is to expose yourself to real language as used by native speakers in natural, day-to-day contexts. Obviously, immersion is the most effective way to manage this, but not all of us have the opportunity to live in a country where the language we’re learning is spoken.

That’s where TV in Hebrew can come in handy. You can use this as a highly practical tool to expose yourself to native speech. In fact, even if we are staying in the country of our target language, or among natives of that country abroad, TV shows and movies have a certain advantage in that they allow us to pause and replay segments we wish to hear again—unlike people in real life, who tend to resist getting paused and replayed!

Another advantage of watching Israeli TV series is that they generally offer language learners very idiomatic language, as opposed to the more formal or fancy language you might encounter in literature or on the news. For this reason, TV shows are a great way to expand your vocabulary with everyday words and expressions—including slang and colloquialisms—as well as pick up on nuances of pronunciation and inflection.

And it goes without saying that watching Israeli TV shows is a fantastic way to improve your listening comprehension! The best thing of all is that, provided you choose shows that you like watching, TV can make language-learning a fun and relaxing activity which has been proven to improve learning abilities.

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Table of Contents

  1. Tips for Using Israeli TV Shows to Learn Hebrew
  2. Show #1: Ktzarim
  3. Show #2: Ha-Shoter ha-Tov
  4. Show #3: Fauda
  5. Show #4: Srugim
  6. Show #5: Eretz Nehederet
  7. Show #6: Slikhah al ha-She’elah
  8. Show #7: B’li Sodot
  9. Show #8: Mo’adon Laylah
  10. Show #9: B’ney Arubah
  11. Show #10: Ha-Gashash ha-Khiver
  12. HebrewPod101 is Here to Help You Learn the Fun Way!

1. Tips for Using Israeli TV Shows to Learn Hebrew

Study Books

Before we take a look at the top ten Israeli TV shows to learn Hebrew, let’s first see some of the most effective ways we can put TV shows in service of our language-learning goals.

  1. The first thing to remember is that the very act of watching a TV show in Hebrew is going to help you learn passively. Basically, as long as you’re exposing yourself to the sounds, patterns, and rhythms of Hebrew as it’s spoken in modern-day Israel, you’re attuning your ears and your mind to the language.
  2. A very helpful way to both expand your vocabulary and improve your listening comprehension and pronunciation is to use subtitles while watching Israeli TV shows. For beginners, it may be easier to watch Israeli TV shows with English subtitles, but as soon as you’re comfortable, you should definitely switch the subtitles to Hebrew. While it’s useful to match up the English words you see on the screen with their Hebrew equivalents as spoken by the characters in the show, it will help you much more to watch Israeli TV shows with subtitles in Hebrew as you listen to the words being pronounced.
  3. A great way to work on vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation is to set goals for each episode you watch in terms of learning new words and phrases. Say you watch a forty-five-minute show, you can set a goal, for example, to learn ten new words and/or phrases. As you watch, just jot down any unfamiliar words or phrases as you come across them. You can either write the definition if you caught it, or look them up later. Then go and practice them!
  4. To practice pronunciation specifically, you can set a similar goal of words and/or phrases to practice. Listen for whatever language is tricky or confusing for you, and replay the segments so you can practice your pronunciation, matching it to the native speakers’ in the show. You can even take this a step further by recording the bits you want to practice with your cell phone, then recording yourself saying the same bits and comparing to see how close you’ve gotten.
  5. Test your listening comprehension on short segments by trying to write a transcript of what you hear a character, or various characters, saying. Obviously, you want to either not look at the screen or turn off the subtitles while you do so. Then, watch the scene again and check the subtitles to see how close you got.
  6. Utilize the language you learn in your speech. Watching Hebrew-language TV shows is a great way to pick up commonly used words and phrases in Hebrew. Try to grasp the appropriate context in which the words or phrases are used in the show, and use them accordingly when you speak Hebrew!

2. Show #1: Ktzarim

Kids Laughing Watching Computer Screen

Let’s start with one of the best Israeli TV shows for learning Hebrew. This show, קצרים (Ktzarim) or “Shorts,” is a hilarious sketch comedy with the same five actors in a seemingly endless variety of roles and situations. The quintet includes award-winning actor Moni Moshonov, who has appeared in various English-language movies as well, alongside Keren Mor, Shmulik Levy, Riki Blich, and Yuval Segal. The best way to catch this show is on YouTube, where many full episodes as well as sketch segments are available free of charge.

This show doesn’t have any particular theme, and is based, as its name suggests, on very brief comic sketches, ranging from a few seconds to around a minute long. Generally speaking, the characters in these sketches go by their real names (first name only), and can be seen portraying just about anyone.

The main advantage of this show for language learners is that, because the sketches are so short, they provide a great opportunity to focus on listening comprehension for small chunks of language. You can definitely take advantage of their short length by doing some repeated listening and/or repeated speaking to learn new words and phrases.

3. Show #2: Ha-Shoter ha-Tov

One of the greatest Israeli TV shows on Netflix, השוטר הטוב (Ha-Shoter ha-Tov), or “The Good Cop,” is another Israeli comedy show, albeit with full-length episodes rather than sketches.

The show follows policeman Dani Confino and his fellow officers through one misadventure after another. For example, due to what’s deemed to be violent and uncontrollable behavior, Dani is sent to meet with a psychologist to talk about his issues. The scenes with the psychologist are frequent and quite funny. The series also follows Dani’s dysfunctional relationships with his parents, as he moves back in with them after finding out that his girlfriend has been cheating on him.

The show features Yuval Semo as Dani, Leora Rivlin as his mother, Moshe Ivgy as his father, Guy Loel as the station chief, Yigal Adika as Dani’s partner, and Ortal Ben Shoshan as Dani’s co-officer and eventual romantic interest.

This show offers a great opportunity to pick up day-to-day Hebrew, including slang and colloquialisms. You can also note the different accents and dialects that are featured, from Dani’s more or less standard Tel Aviv accent to his partner’s Oriental Jewish accent to Dani’s father’s Morrocan accent.

4. Show #3: Fauda

פאודה (Fauda), or “Fauda,” is an absolute must-see. The name of this action-packed Hebrew TV series is actually in Arabic, and means “chaos.” It’s interesting for both its storyline and in linguistic terms.

This show deals with IDF officers involved in Israel’s undercover security operations to track and capture terrorists within the Palestinian territories. As undercover agents, all of these characters (and thus the actors who play them) must speak perfect Arabic, so the show is a good opportunity to hear both Hebrew and Arabic and to note the differences between them. Fauda is available to stream on Netflix.

Fauda stars a number of noteworthy Israeli actors, such as Lior Raz as Doron Kavillio, Itzik Cohen as Captain Gabi Ayub, Yuval Segal as Mickey Moreno, and Rona-Lee Shim’on as Nurit. It also stars Arab-Israeli actors and even French-Lebanese actress Laëtitia Eïdo as Dr. Shirin Al Abed.

This show is a great opportunity to pick up military lingo, which is a huge part of everyday Hebrew in Israel. This is because military service in the IDF is obligatory for all citizens, male and female, upon graduating high school. For this reason, there’s a lot of military jargon—often acronyms—that gets used even in non-military contexts. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of words you may hear on the show:

  • פז”ם
    Pazam
    “Seniority” (literally the acronym for “time out” )
  • שיפצור
    Shiftzur
    “Improvised repair or improvement” (formed from שיפור צורה, shipur tzurah, “improvement of form/shape” )
  • ג’ובניק
    Jobnik
    “Non-combat soldier”

5. Show #4: Srugim

Jews Lighting Menorah

Srugim is a very interesting show that examines life within the so-called National Religious Community in Israel. Essentially, these are religious, observant Jews who are strong supporters of the modern state and participate fully and with distinction in the armed forces as well as the workforce, unlike their ultra-Orthodox counterparts.

In fact, this is the origin of the show’s title. The word סרוגים (srugim) means “knitted” or “crocheted” and refers to the style of כיפה (kipah), or “yarmulke,” that modern Orthodox Jews wear. The ultra-Orthodox tend to favor velvet or leather yarmulkes.

With well-known Israeli actors including Ohad Knoller as Dr. Nati Brenner and Yael Sharoni as Yifat, the show provides a fascinating in-depth look into the lives of Orthodox Jews living in the midst of a mostly secular Israeli society, as well as the dilemmas and choices they face. It’s unique in its attempt to portray this sector of society in an unbiased manner.

Srugim is a wonderful opportunity to learn Hebrew—not just useful daily Hebrew, but also Hebrew that pertains more to religious life, sometimes involving Biblical references (i.e. ancient Hebrew) or rabbinic sources (yet another strain of the Hebrew language).

6. Show #5: Eretz Nehederet

ארץ נהדרת (Eretz Nehederet), or “What a Wonderful Country,” is a satire show that’s similar to Saturday Night Live in that it includes sketch comedy with a notable political bent. Hosted by Eyal Kitzis, it also features such prominent comedic personalities as Tal Friedman, Alma Zak, Orna Banai, and Asi Cohen. It can be found on Netflix, with some episodes and clips available on YouTube. As with Ktzarim, since the show consists of sketches, it’s one of the most practical Israeli TV shows to watch if you want to work on comprehension or pronunciation.

As the show touches on all facets of Israeli life, all accents and dialects are represented, albeit mostly in a humorous vein. The show is also a funny opportunity to see and hear comic impersonations of various famous Israelis, from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to model Pnina Rosenblum.

7. Show #6: Slikhah al ha-She’elah

Questions Marks Above Woman's Head

סליחה על השאלה (Slikhah al ha-She’elah) means “Sorry for Asking.” As far as TV shows in Hebrew go, this one is quite unique in that the premise of the show is to ask difficult or uncommon questions received by anonymous submissions from viewers. For example, episodes may feature people who have at some point been members of a cult or people who use a wheelchair, who are asked to field a number of challenging questions.

The show does not have any set cast, as it merely shows the interviewees for each episode, with each episode having separate interviewees. In addition to providing a wonderful opportunity to hear from different—and perhaps unusual—perspectives within Israeli society, watching this show is also a fantastic way to practice questions in Hebrew! You can watch it on YouTube.

8. Show #7: B’li Sodot

This show, בלי סודות (Bli Sodot), or “Without Secrets,” is a children’s show, so it may not be for everyone. However, if you really want to work on the basics of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, this is a great choice as far as children’s TV shows in Hebrew go. Its goal is to help teach Israeli children to read, and because it’s geared toward children, the actors—including Oshik Levi and Hanny Nahmias—tend to speak very slowly and clearly.

The show features songs and sketches which are all in some way related to words and reading, so its educational value is unquestionable. Obviously, however, it does tend to deal with juvenile topics and situations, so you may wish to limit how much you use this one for learning. It does, however, contain some great elements that can surely be helpful if you take the show as lightly as it was intended. For example:

  • The recurring character Itonaish plays a game where he must identify syllables in order to match up the ones that go together and determine which one doesn’t fit.
  • Words learned in a previous sketch are repeated, broken into syllables for ease of comprehension.
  • The recurring character Alphy creates words learned in previous sketches. Children read out the words, and in some cases Alphy removes the nikud, much to the children’s initial dismay, but later pleasure, as they realize how to read without the vowels being indicated.

9. Show #8: Mo’adon Laylah

מועדון לילה (Mo’adon Laylah), or “Nightclub,” is another Israeli satire show, hosted by Erez Tal. This show features panelists—including Ofer Shechter, Israel Katorsa, Maya Dagan, and Tal Friedman—who comment satirically on various daily events, often responding to short video clips.

This show is a great way to have fun while getting to know all about Israeli politics, celebs, sports, and more. It’s also another opportunity to expose yourself to a broad array of language, as well as different accents and dialects, including in impersonations. This show is available on YouTube.

10. Show #9: B’ney Arubah

Hands Bound

בני ערובה (B’ney Arubah), or “Hostages,” is a thrilling Israeli series that follows a family that’s taken hostage by armed men who attempt to force the mother, a prominent surgeon, to intentionally cause the prime minister’s death by botching a surgery she plans to perform on him.

Starring Ayelet Zurer as Dr. Yael Danon and Jonah Lotan as Adam, the series was so popular it was acquired by BBC to be remade in English. This show features many highly intense scenes with rapid exchanges between characters, so you can consider it advanced listening comprehension. It’s available on Netflix.

11. Show #10: Ha-Gashash ha-Khiver

Saving the best for last, this one isn’t actually confined to one show. הגשש החיוור (Ha-Gashash ha-Khiver), or “The Pale Tracker,” was a longstanding comedy trio that can perhaps be considered the most important comedic influence in modern Israeli society. The trio consisted of Yeshayahu Levi (nicknamed “Shaike”), Yisrael Poliakov (nicknamed “Poli”), and Gavriel Banai (nicknamed “Gavri”). The three produced shows, movies, and records, many of which are widely available on YouTube.

This comedy is not only brilliant but also very linguistically oriented. In fact, Ha-Gashash ha-Khiver probably influenced the modern Hebrew language much in the way the plays of Shakespeare revolutionized the English language. Plays on words, spoonerisms, neologisms, and just about every other form of language manipulation, are a regular part of the trio’s approach to humor.

The trio very often does impersonations or impressions, and even has skits about language itself. Watching these three comedians is a guaranteed way to enrich your Hebrew and laugh while doing so, while also getting great exposure to different accents and dialects.

12. HebrewPod101 is Here to Help You Learn the Fun Way!

Happy Faces

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s change of pace. We here at HebrewPod101 are committed to providing you with learning materials that keep you interested and having fun. We know how important it is to the success of any language-learning endeavor to enjoy the process. For this reason, we try to include as much fun as we can.

As we hope you can see, Hebrew TV shows are a fantastic way to bolster your more academic lessons. By no means should you consider them secondary. On the contrary, exposing yourself to real-life Hebrew is just as important as hitting the grammar books!

There’s no better way to work on your comprehension and pronunciation than by hearing and imitating native speakers. Why not do so while enjoying a great Israeli TV show? Consider it a two-for-one: entertainment and education all in one sitting. Just don’t forget the popcorn—in Hebrew, פופקורן (popkoren)!

Which Hebrew TV show do you want to watch first? Let us know in the comments!

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Job Hunting in Hebrew — How to Find Jobs in Israel

Thumbnail

If you’re planning to stay in Israel for any considerable length of time, you’re probably going to consider looking for a job at some point. Beyond the obvious need to earn a living, entering the job market is also a great way to network. A work environment can open up access to new social circles, as well, and help you start forming the ties you need to navigate in a foreign country.

Israel’s job market is constantly evolving. There are jobs in Israel for English speakers if you know where and how to look, as well as what to expect in terms of the screening and interview process. Just like anywhere else, looking for work in Israel can definitely be a challenge, depending on your qualifications and the type of job you’re after. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

In today’s lesson, we’ll cover everything you should know about:

  • Where to look for work in Israel
  • Different types of job opportunities available to foreigners
  • General tips on job-hunting in Israel

Let’s dive in. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. The Top Israeli Cities to Look for a Job in as a Foreigner
  2. Language Teaching Jobs
  3. Blue-Collar Jobs
  4. Office Jobs
  5. Health, Science, and Technology-Related Jobs
  6. How to Prep Your CV for the Israeli Job Market and Other Employment Tips
  7. If you want to work in Israel, learning Hebrew is the best investment you can make.

1. The Top Israeli Cities to Look for a Job in as a Foreigner

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule about where to work in Israel, it is good general practice to focus your search on large population centers where you’re more likely to encounter a variety of work opportunities.

In Israel, which is a relatively small country, the majority of the population is concentrated in Gush Dan, which contains Israel’s largest city (Tel Aviv) as well as a number of other cities and suburbs. This is going to be your best bet for industry, commerce, and high-tech, although there are other options as well. Let’s have a look at the major cities in Israel and their characteristics in terms of the job market they offer.

A- Tel Aviv and Gush Dan – תל אביב וגוש דן (Tel Aviv ve-Gush Dan)

Beach in Tel Aviv

As mentioned, Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest city and it has the most modern feel. It’s the seat of Israel’s booming high-tech industry, and it’s Israel’s major hub for finance, business, medicine, and R&D, among others. For example, Tel Aviv is home to Israel’s stock market and is near the country’s main international airport, Ben Gurion, making it an obvious choice for conducting international business.

If you have a functional level of Hebrew and the relevant credentials and experience, you could try looking for jobs in your field. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to work in a job that doesn’t require mastery of Hebrew, you could look for work in Tel Aviv’s tourist and service industry. In this case, you’ll want to look for vacancies at hotels, restaurants, and beach facilities.

You could also seek work as an English teacher—or a teacher of any other international language you may speak—at language centers such as Wall Street. In fact, you could even try to give private lessons through wanted ads in local newspapers, such as Maariv or Calcalist. You may also want to consider applying to jobs at public or private schools, provided you have the proper training to teach at this level.

B- Jerusalem – ירושלים (Yerushalayim)

Jerusalem and Wailing Wall

Though a much smaller city, Jerusalem is a hub for culture, tourism, and political and religious activity. In contrast with Tel Aviv’s modern Bauhaus look, Jerusalem feels like a portal into ancient times, with its white stone buildings and historical sites on just about every corner. Nevertheless, the city is home to a bustling economy, and even has an industrial city housing a number of prominent international companies.

Because of Jerusalem’s importance to the three major Western religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the city is also a must-see destination for any tourist visiting the country. Additionally, it’s home to a very large expat community; some of these expats are tied to the multitude of educational institutions such as the Hebrew University.

As such, Jerusalem is a place where English can get you further than in some other parts of Israel. So if your Hebrew is just so-so, you may want to consider looking for work in the tourism and service industry, or you could apply for a position at a school or program where English is the lingua franca. And, of course, you can look for work teaching English in Jerusalem, as well.

When looking for jobs, you could use the local papers (such as Yediot Aharonot) or check in with the Jerusalem Municipality, which runs a number of programs aimed at matching up immigrants with jobs. If you’re an entrepreneur, you might also want to consider checking out the MATI Jerusalem Business Development Center, dedicated to helping business owners.

C- Haifa – חיפה (Khayfah)

Haifa

Haifa is Israel’s largest northern city, sitting on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea below the slopes of the Carmel Mountains. One of Israel’s major port cities (along with Ashdod in the South), Haifa is home to a wealth of industries, including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, oil refineries, engineering, R&D, and high-tech. It also holds a place of prominence in the medical sphere, with an extensive hospital system.

As with the other cities we’ve seen, if your Hebrew isn’t up to snuff, you could try teaching English or look for work in the tourist and service sectors. Another option is to apply to the many international companies with branches in Haifa, such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, and Qualcomm, to name but a few.

Haifa’s Center for Employment is a great resource for job hunters, offering guidance and support for newcomers to Israel, with specific services for those seeking employment. And if you’re interested in starting your own business or setting up a branch in Israel, you can also avail yourself of the MATI Haifa Small Business Development Center.

D- Eilat – אילת (Eilat)

Eilat

Nestled right at the southern tip of the country, Eilat is a very different city from the others we’ve seen so far. A resort city on the coast of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, it is home to a bustling tourism industry, both national and international.

There are many hotels, both big and small, as well as the typical service industry employers that one would usually expect to find in a resort town. While a lack of Hebrew knowledge can be an obstacle, considering the large amount of domestic tourism in Eilat, there are some opportunities available for English speakers at hotels, restaurants, gift shops, travel agencies, and the like. A good resource for these types of jobs is the Facebook page Israel Hotel Jobs for Olim & Newcomers.

As in the other cities we’ve seen, you could also look for a job teaching English, though there will be fewer such opportunities in Eilat as compared to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. One option is to look for opportunities through English language teacher training organizations, such as TESOL, which you can check out here.

2. Language Teaching Jobs

Teacher's Desk and Blackboard

As we’ve already noted, English teaching jobs can be a good option to fall back on, particularly if your Hebrew level represents a barrier to entering the Hebrew job market. However, note that to be eligible for public and private school positions, you’ll need to demonstrate Hebrew proficiency in all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).

There are three main types of English teaching jobs you can apply for in Israel, each with its own requirements. These requirements will also vary from institution to institution, so consider these to be guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules.

1. Teaching English at a school

All Israeli schools will require a college degree in order to consider an applicant for a teaching position. You’ll also be expected to get certified through the Israeli education system, but the good news is that such certification programs are government-subsidized.

Because elementary and junior high schools fall under the jurisdiction of the Israel Ministry of Education, you will typically get hired through a government agency rather than directly by the school where you teach.

Note that Israel has two types of public schools—namely secular and religious—as well as private schools. Expect to put in 30 hours a week of teaching at elementary schools or 24 hours a week of teaching at junior high and high schools.

Don’t expect to earn much teaching in Israel, as average teachers’ salaries are around $500-$700 per month, though you can earn a bit more based on experience and qualifications. For example, while not a requirement, a TEFL certification can give you an advantage both in terms of getting hired and in terms of your salary.

2. Teaching English at a language center

These jobs are typically easier to get. As you’ll be hired directly by a private language center, such as Wall Street or Berlitz, you can expect less scrutiny in terms of paper qualifications. Essentially, if you know English and can teach, you have a chance of getting a job.

That said, you’ll likely be asked to show a bachelor’s in some field, and TEFL certification can give you a significant leg up over other candidates. There are also programs in Israel where you can train for this certification and then seek work upon completion.

Most language centers will expect you to teach 20-25 hours per week, though this number can vary. Your students may be school-age children taking after-school classes to improve their English, young adults preparing for university entrance exams, or business professionals wishing to improve their English. Salaries vary, but a ballpark range for what you can expect to earn is somewhere between $600 and $1,200 per month.

3. Private English tutoring

Finally, you can always go the route of private tutoring, which on the plus side can give you more flexibility in terms of the types of students you work with, the amount you can charge, and your work schedule. On the downside, you’ll have to scrape together enough hours between your clients to put together a solid income.

You can look for potential students in a number of ways. Apart from scouring the classifieds of the local papers for wanted ads seeking tutors, you would also be wise to check out bulletin boards at schools and universities, as well as utilize social media. For example, the Facebook page English Teaching Community in Israel is one place you might want to look.

It’s worth noting that, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, many teachers are moving their teaching to online platforms. This can be a great way to find students and make some money when you can’t leave home due to lockdowns or fear of contagion.

3. Blue-Collar Jobs

Blue Collar Worker

Israel’s blue-collar job market is highly competitive, so you’ll really only want to apply to these jobs if you already have the training for them (and ideally some experience as well). You’ll also be expected to have a fluent or near-fluent level of Hebrew for many positions in the professional job market.

Here are some of the major industries and employers for those seeking blue-collar jobs in Israel.

  1. Dead Sea Works
    One of Israel’s oldest industries, Dead Sea Works is the fourth largest producer of potash and potash products in the world, with customers in over 60 countries. The company, located on Israel’s Dead Sea, also produces bath, table, and industrial salts, as well as raw materials used in the production of cosmetics.
  1. Oil refineries
    Israel has a few oil refineries, the largest being the Bazan Group (also known as ORL) in Haifa, with an annual refining capacity of some 9.8 million tons of crude. The Bazan Group also owns a number of subsidiaries engaged in the manufacture of petrochemical products used in the plastics industry, which is one of Israel’s most important industries. Ashdod Oil Refineries, located in the southern port of the same name, is the second largest refinery, employing some 230 employees.
  1. Port jobs
    The main ports of Ashdod and Haifa are another potential avenue for blue-collar professionals seeking jobs in Israel. The Ashdod Port Co., for example, employs some 5,000 workers, including engineers, machine operators, handlers, inspectors, logistics experts, and dockside/shipside crew.
  1. Kibbutz jobs
    While perhaps a bit counterintuitive, you may consider looking for a blue-collar job at one of Israel’s many kibbutzim. Since many of these communal settlements diversify their income streams, you’ll find kibbutzim engaged in the traditional agricultural endeavors but also housing factories (particularly for plastics manufacture) and other industrial and business operations.

    These can range anywhere from food and beverage production/packaging to the production of military, medical, or agribusiness products. Working on a kibbutz may also offer you the possibility of living onsite in affordable (albeit humble) housing. A good resource when looking for these jobs is the Kibbutz Industries Association website, accessible here.

4. Office Jobs

Woman Working in Office

You can also look for office jobs in Israel in pretty much any sizable city. As the famed Startup Nation, Israel is full of businesses large and small in need of qualified office personnel. In particular demand are positions for bookkeepers, IT professionals, programmers, salespeople, administrative staff, and secretaries.

Obviously, you’re unlikely to get very far without solid Hebrew knowledge, unless you apply to jobs in international organizations, which may have openings for English speakers. A good resource when looking for these sorts of jobs is the website XPat Jobs, which you can check out here.

5. Health, Science, and Technology-Related Jobs

Laser

Israel is a known leader in the fields of health, science, and technology, so there are plenty of jobs available in these spheres. However, with one of the world’s best educated workforces, you can expect to be up against stiff competition when applying to these positions. You’ll certainly be expected to demonstrate the relevant education and credentials, as well as Hebrew knowledge, to qualify for these sorts of jobs.

Some of the top options for these types of jobs are R&D, medical and scientific technology and research, as well as technical support for a broad array of industries. As a hub for tech research and development, some of Israel’s largest employers in this field include Intel, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, HP, General Motors, Samsung, Philips, Paypal, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. You can look for jobs directly with these and other employers or on job boards like AllJobs or Jobmaster.

6. How to Prep Your CV for the Israeli Job Market and Other Employment Tips

CV

A- CV tips

One of the things you’ll want to do as you prepare to look for work in Israel is to create a CV in Hebrew and according to common practice in the Israeli job market. Here are some tips for a successful Hebrew CV:

  1. Keep it short (usually one page if you have 10 years of experience or less)
  2. Emphasize demonstrable results, but in summary form rather than going into too much detail
  3. Research keywords for your industry and for the specific job you’re applying for, and incorporate these in your CV
  4. Be sure to highlight any relevant skills apart from your formal credentials, including language abilities
  5. Avoid generalities or clichés, as Israeli employers will not be impressed by these

B- Interview tips

You also want to make sure you’re properly prepared to interview successfully. As with other interactions in Israel, you’ll find some things to be similar to what you’re used to back home, while other aspects will be quite different, even shockingly so. One thing to keep in mind is that the Israeli job market is literally flooded with highly qualified candidates, so you certainly want to do everything you can to leave a good impression and stand out from the pack.

  1. Dress for success. While Israelis may be infamous for dressing down when out and about, this is not the case in the workplace.
  2. Show up on time, or better yet, early, even if your interview is likely to start late (as many things in Israel tend to do).
  3. Rehearse your interview, practicing what you think you may be asked. This includes researching the company you’re applying to as well as the specific requirements for the job and the aspects of your training and skills that are relevant.
  4. Don’t look at your phone! Better yet, turn it on silent or simply turn it off.
  5. Focus on appearing confident, but not arrogant or conceited. You want to clearly communicate why you would make a strong candidate without exaggerating.
  6. Make sure to pay attention not only to your verbal communication, but also your nonverbal communication, as Israelis rely heavily on noverbal cues and will definitely notice these in you.
  7. Follow your interview up with an email to show you’re truly interested.

C- Other tips

In general, you want to do as much research as you can about a particular industry, employer, position, or even city. Take advantage of the existing networks in Israel for expats and immigrants, such as Nefesh b’Nefesh and the Ministry of Absorption. Get as much information as you can so you can figure out a good place to relocate to in terms of job availability for your knowledge, education, and interests.

Additionally, make use of social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, as Israelis rely heavily on the web to communicate. Many jobs, professional development opportunities, job fairs, and other relevant information is likely to appear online and not in print, while the inverse is usually not going to be true.

Nevertheless, make sure to check job boards online as well as in the local papers to increase your chances of finding a lead. You can also check out headhunters such as Janglo or Indeed—which are free—or JobMaster, Totaljobs, or Monster, which require a paid subscription. It’s a good idea to get yourself on a job mailing list or two, like AllJobs and Jobnet, so you can get updated job options sent right to your email or phone on an ongoing basis.

7. If you want to work in Israel, learning Hebrew is the best investment you can make.

As you can see, Israel has a broad job market but also one marked by extreme competition. Even if you’re interested in teaching English in Israel, you would still be wise to work on your Hebrew knowledge, as some schools will require this and others may simply use it as a filter to weed out less desirable job applicants.

Whether you’re an experienced professional or just getting started in the working world, Hebrew is your passport to success in the Israeli job market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because most Israelis know at least some English, you’re exempted from studying the local language. While there are a few opportunities for work in Israel for English speakers, knowing Hebrew will take your professional life to a new level! 

Let HebrewPod101 be your partner in mastering the Hebrew language. We’re committed to helping you make sense of grammar and expand your vocabulary, and also aim to help you acclimatize culturally to the various aspects of life in Israel, from job hunting to ordering at a restaurant to asking someone out on a date.

Our teachers can also help you learn business language specifically and prepare for things like interviewing and even talking with your coworkers. Check out our MyTeacher page to see how you can benefit from one-on-one learning, ongoing assessment of your progress, and personalized assignments—all with constant feedback and the chance to ask questions at any time.

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions—or perhaps a job success story you’d like to share with fellow Israel job seekers! 

Until next time, shalom!

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Purim in Israel: How to Celebrate the Purim Holiday

Purim is a Jewish holiday, celebrated each year in commemoration of the overthrowing of Haman’s plot against the Jews, outlined in the Scroll of Esther. Purim in Israel is, therefore, one of the most important holidays the country celebrates.

In learning about Purim, you’re opening your heart and mind to Jewish culture and its people—including its previous and current hardships. At HebrewPod101.com, we hope to make this journey both fun and enlightening. So let’s get started!

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1. What is Purim?

Purim (also called the Feast of Purim) is based on a story written in the Scroll of Esther. According to the Purim story, Ahasueros, the king of Persia, banished his wife and chose Esther, the Jewess, to take her place. Haman, the highest ranking minister in the kingdom, planned to kill all of the Jews, but Esther discovered his plot, and thanks to her wisdom and sensitivity, she was able to thwart Haman’s plans. Since then, Jews have celebrated the victory over Haman, and have read the Scroll of Esther ever year.

2. When is Purim?

Girl with Face Painted

The date of Purim varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. However, the Purim month is always Adar, with the celebration on the fourteenth. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s beginning and end dates for the next ten years:

  • 2019: March 20 (sundown) through March 21 (nightfall)
  • 2020: March 9 (sundown) through March 10 (nightfall)
  • 2021: February 25 (sundown) through February 26 (nightfall)
  • 2022: March 16 (sundown) through March 17 (nightfall)
  • 2023: March 6 (sundown) through March 7 (nightfall)
  • 2024: March 24 (sundown) through March 25 (nightfall)
  • 2025: March 14 (sundown) through March 15 (nightfall)
  • 2026: March 2 (sundown) through March 3 (nightfall)
  • 2027: March 22 (sundown) through March 23 (nightfall)
  • 2028: March 11 (sundown) through March 12 (nightfall)

3. Reading Practice: How is it Celebrated?

Woman in witch Costume

So, how is Purim celebrated? Read the Hebrew text below to find out (you can find the English translation directly below it).

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בכל מקום תוכלו לראות נסיכות, אבירים, מכשפות, ליצנים, קוסמים וגיבורי-על. את התחפושות לובשים לא רק בערב, אלא גם ביום החג: בבתי הספר, ברחוב ובמקומות העבודה. בפורים צריך לשמוח ולחגוג, ובכל מקום תוכלו למצוא מסיבות רחוב ומצעדים צבעוניים ועליזים.

בפורים נהוג גם לתת אחד לשני חבילות של מאכלים טעימים, שנקראות משלוח מנות. את משלוחי המנות נותנים לחברים, לעמיתים לעבודה ולפעמים גם לזרים, כדי לשמח אחד את השני. מנהג נוסף בחג הוא לתת תרומה לעניים, וכמה שיותר – יותר טוב.

בפורים נפגשים כדי לקרוא יחד את מגילת אסתר. בזמן הקריאה מחזיקים כולם רעשנים, ובכל פעם שמוזכר שמו של המן הרשע – מרעישים בכל הכוח. הרעש מסמל את הבוז כלפי המן.

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The most prominent custom associated with Purim is wearing costumes. Princesses, knights, witches, clowns, wizards, and superheroes can be seen everywhere. The costumes aren’t worn only at night, but also during the day, during the holiday, at school, on the street, and at work. On Purim, we must be happy and celebrate, and you can find street parties and bright, colorful parades everywhere.

On Purim, it is customary for people to give each other tasty food packages. These are called mishloach manot. They are given to friends, colleagues at work, and sometimes even to strangers, so that we make each other happy. Another holiday custom is to give alms to the poor—the more, the merrier.

On Purim, people gather to read the Scroll of Esther together. During the reading, everyone has noisemakers, and each time the name of the evil Haman is mentioned, people make as much noise as they can. The noise symbolizes our disdain for Haman.

4. Additional Information: Haman’s Ears

Which sweet Purim food do we eat to celebrate, and what body part is it associated with? On Purim, we eat a sweet, brittle cookie made of dough stuffed with poppy seeds, or sometimes, with chocolate or dates. They’re called “Haman’s ears”, because their triangular shape looks like the ears of the evil Haman.

5. Must-know Vocab

A Pastry called Hamentasch

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Purim!

  • אלכוהול (alkohol) — alcohol
  • פורים (Purim) — Purim
  • זרש (Zeresh) — Zeresh
  • עשרת בני המן (Aseret Bnei Haman) — ten sons of Haman
  • משלוח מנות (Mishloakh Manot) — Mishloach manot
  • מגילה (megilah) — Megillah
  • מרדכי (Mordekhai) — Mordechai
  • אוזן המן (Ozen Haman) — hamentasch
  • המן (Haman) — Haman
  • רעשן (ra’ashan) — gragger
  • מתנות לאביונים (Matanot La-evyonim) — Matanot l’Evyonim
  • סעודת מצווה (seudat Mitzvah) — festive meal
  • אסתר (Esther) — Esther
  • תחפושות (tachposot) — costume
  • אחשוורוש (Achashverosh) — Ahasuerus
  • להטיל פור (le-hatil pur) — draw a lot
  • תהלוכה (tahalucha) — parade

If you want to hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Purim vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

Now you know how Jews celebrate Purim. What are your thoughts? Is there a special holiday in your own country this reminds you of? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the Hebrew language and culture, visit us at HebrewPod101.com. We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community where you can discuss lessons with fellow Hebrew learners. You can also upgrade your account to begin using our MyTeacher program, so that you can learn Hebrew one-on-one with your own personal Hebrew teacher.

Know that your hard work will soon reap benefits, and you’ll soon be speaking Hebrew like a native. In the meantime, keep studying and treat yourself to a hamentasch or two!

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