HebrewPod101.com Blog
Learn Hebrew with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Israeli Culture' Category

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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:

This only scratches the surface of everything HebrewPod101.com can offer the aspiring Hebrew-learner. To make the most of your study time, create your free lifetime account with us today; or better, upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans for more exclusive content and lessons.

Whatever path you want your language-learning journey to follow, know that we’re here for you from step one to the end!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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:

Hebrew is an intricate language, but mastering it doesn’t have to be boring or overwhelming. With HebrewPod101.com, it can even be fun!

If you’re serious about leveling up your Hebrew skills, create your free lifetime account today!

Happy Hebrew learning! 🙂

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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:

  • Insightful blog posts on a range of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a variety of topics and themes
  • Podcasts and videos to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps to learn Hebrew anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in a more personalized, one-on-one approach to learning Hebrew, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own Hebrew teacher who will help you develop a plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

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!

If you’re looking for a site to help you flourish in your Hebrew skills, this is it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

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

Thumbnail

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

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).

—–

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.

—–

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

Tu BiShvat: How to Celebrate the Jewish Tree Holiday

Tu BiShvat (meaning Jewish New Year for Trees) is a Jewish holiday dedicated to preserving the environment, keeping the beautiful world that God created in good condition. It should come as no surprise that the Jewish people care so much about environmental health, considering the command it’s believed God gave to Adam, the first man: not to ruin the world’s beauty.

Learn more fascinating Tu BiShvat facts with HebrewPod101.com, from its origins to important vocabulary you should know!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

1. Why Should You Know About Tu BiShvat?

Learning the most popular holidays of any country reveals a lot about that country’s culture, and cultural knowledge is just as important as vocabulary knowledge. Understanding Tu BiShvat will provide you with greater knowledge of the Jewish people as well as context for your vocabulary.

Tu BiShvat is certainly an important holiday to the Jewish people; it reflects both their devotion to God and their care for the world we live in. When we examine the origins and customs of this Jewish holiday, it’s clear to see that this is a day close to Jews’ hearts.

2. What is Tu BiShvat?

Also known as ראש השנה לאילנות (rosh ha-shana la-ilanot), the Jewish holiday Tu BiShvat is an agricultural holiday, meaning that it centers on the environment and its preservation. Tu BiShvat derives its name from the date on which it takes place: the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month Shevat.

When looking at the history of Tu BiShvat, we can see that it’s celebrated mainly as a way of commemorating and honoring the command that Jews believe God gave the first man Adam, which was to protect and care for the world He made.

Jews typically do this through נטיעות (netiot) or “planting” trees. In fact, just about everyone gets involved with the tree planting; schools even take classes on field trips to do this!

But the customs and celebrations don’t end there; find out more about common Tu BiShvat traditions below.

3. When is Tu BiShvat?

15th of Shevat on Hebrew Calendar

Tu BiShvat takes place on the fifteenth day of Shevat on the Hebrew calendar. This usually converts to a date in January or February of the Gregorian calendar. Here’s a list of this holiday’s dates, converted to its date on the Gregorian calendar, for the next ten years:

  • 2019: January 21
  • 2020: February 10
  • 2021: January 28
  • 2022: January 17
  • 2023: February 6
  • 2024: January 25
  • 2025: February 13
  • 2026: February 2
  • 2027: January 23
  • 2028: February 12

4. How is Tu BiShvat Celebrated?

A Variety of Fresh Fruit

As mentioned earlier, Tu BiShvat in Hebrew culture is an agricultural holiday and is often observed by the planting of trees. But what holiday would be complete without food?

1- Tu BiShvat Seder

The Tu BiShvat Seder is a relatively new tradition for this holiday, starting up about four-hundred years ago.

In Hebrew, a seder is a type of religious feast, often accompanied by prayer and other religious formalities. While they usually take place during the two days before Passover, many Jewish people also participate in a Tu BiShvat Seder.

During this the Tu BiShvat Seder, families often gather together to eat fruit (usually dried), which is an absolute staple and symbol of this holiday. While feasting, prayers are said and blessings are given in both celebration and respect for טבע (teva) or “nature.”

2- שבעת המינים (Shiv’at ha`minim) — The Seven Species

Jews typically consume a particular group of foods, called שבעת המינים (Shiv’at ha`minim) or “The Seven Species.” This is a list of seven agricultural foods which are named in the Torah, the main religious book of the Jews.

These seven Tu BiShvat foods are:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Pomegranates
  • Olives
  • Dates

3- Children’s Songs and Stories

The Jewish people want to do everything they can to make sure Tu BiShvat is a holiday their children will enjoy celebrating, now and in the future. Aside from school field trips to plant trees, children also come to appreciate this holiday through a variety of fun songs about it as well as Tu BiShvat stories.

5. Additional Information

1- Why Dried Fruit?

In case you’re wondering why Jews tend to eat their fruit dried on this day, it’s important to take the country’s history into account.

This holiday was first observed before the time of refrigerators and other more modern methods of preserving food. And because fruit spoils quickly, it was important to find some way to preserve it; this meant drying it.

As many customs and traditions do around the world, this tradition stuck. (Plus, dried fruit tastes fantastic, and is oftentimes more convenient to eat!)

2- The Almond Tree

Another important symbol of Tu BiShvat is the שקדיה (shkediya) or “almond tree.” This is because it happens to bloom right around the time of Tu BiShvat.

6. Must-know Vocab for Tu BiShvat

A Green Sapling

It’s good to know certain words and phrases for any holiday you plan on celebrating or taking part in. With that in mind, here’s some helpful vocabulary terms for you to take with you to your Tu BiShvat celebration:

  • פרי (pri) — Fruit
  • עץ (etz) — Tree
  • פירות יבשים (peyrot yveshim) — Dried fruit
  • שבעת המינים (Shiv’at ha`minim) — Seven Species
  • נטיעות (netiot) — Planting
  • טבע (teva) — Nature
  • ט”ו בשבט (tu bishvat) — 15th of Shevat
  • איכות הסביבה (eikhut ha`svivah) — Environment
  • שתיל (shtil) — Seedling
  • שקדיה (shkediya) — Almond tree

To hear each of these words with a pronunciation, you can listen to them with audio recordings on our Tu BiShvat vocabulary list on HebrewPod101.com!

Conclusion

Now you know a little more about the Jewish agricultural holiday Tu BiShvat. Is there a similar holiday in your country? If so, we’d like to hear about it!

If you want to learn even more about Hebrew culture, be sure to visit us at HebrewPod101.com. We have an array of insightful articles, vocabulary lists, and even an online community where you can chat with other Hebrew language learners! For one-on-one guidance in language-learning, also be sure to check out our MyTeacher app.

Happy Tu BiShvat!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

How to Say Happy New Year in Hebrew & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Hebrew New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join HebrewPod101 for a special Hebrew New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Hebrew

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March – December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

As a note, in Israel, and in Jewish communities across the world, there’s a different New Year’s celebration based off of the Hebrew calendar. The name of the holiday is Rosh Hashanah, literally “New Year” in Hebrew. As it’s a culturally distinct holiday from the one most are familiar with, the celebrations are very different than those you may be used to. Learn more about the Rosh Hashanah holiday with our article all about it!

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Hebrew? Let a native teach you! At HebrewPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Hebrew New Year wishes!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Master A Language!

Table of Contents

  1. Must-Know Hebrew Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  2. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Hebrew
  3. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  4. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  5. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  6. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Learn Hebrew

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Hebrew New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. Must-Know Hebrew Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Hebrew Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Happy New Year!

שתהיה לך שנה טובה!
she`tihiye lekha shanah tovah!

Of course, this is the most important phrase to know on New Years! Clink your champagne glasses together as the ball drops, then join your friends and family in letting out a big cheer to bring in the New Year! As a note, though, if you’re in Israel, you may find that there aren’t many people calling January 1st New Year’s Day (though they may be using the excuse to party just the same).

2- Year

שנה
shanah

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Israel could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

3- Midnight

חצות
chatzot

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

4- New Year’s Day

ראש השנה
rosh ha`shana

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

You can do it!

5- Party

מסיבה
mesiba

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

6- Dancing

ריקוד
rikud

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

7- Champagne

שמפניה
sham`pania

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

8- Fireworks

זיקוקין די-נור
zikukin dinur

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

Happy Near Year!

9- Countdown

זיקוקין די-נור
zikukin dinur

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts – a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

10- New Year’s Holiday

ראש השנה
rosh ha`shana

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday – to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

11- Confetti

קונפטי
konfeti

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

12- New Year’s Eve

סילבסטר
silvester

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings next year?

13- Toast

הרמת כוסית
haramat kosit

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

14- Resolution

החלטה
hakhlata

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

15- Parade

מצעד
mits-ad

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At HebrewPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Hebrew New Year celebrations are like!

2. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the Hebrew word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at HebrewPod101 – what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Hebrew friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

לקרוא יותר
lik’ro yoter

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Hebrew in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Hebrew language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

לבלות יותר זמן עם המשפחה
le’valot yoter z’man im ha’mishpakha

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

להוריד במשקל
lehorid ba-mishkal

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

לחסוף כסף
lakh’sokh kesef

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to HebrewPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year – it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

להפסיק לעשן
le’hafsik le’ashen

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

ללמוד משהו חדש
lilmod mashehu kha’dash

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess – no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

לשתות פחות
lish’tot pa’khot

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

להתעמל בקביעות
le’hit’amel bik’vi’ut

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

לאכול בריא
le’ekhol ba’ri

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Hebrew with HebrewPod101

לומדים עברית עם עברית פוד ואן או ואן דוט קום
lomding ivrit eem ivrit pod wan o wan dot kom

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Hebrew, especially with us! Learning how to speak Hebrew can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. HebrewPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

3. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Hebrew new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Hebrew, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Hebrew incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

4. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with HebrewPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Hebrew could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Hebrew – it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

5. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Hebrew – learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

6. Why Enrolling with HebrewPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Hebrew! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that HebrewPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Hebrew at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Hebrew that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Master A Language!

There’s no reason not to go big next year by learning Hebrew with HebrewPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hebrew

How to Say Merry Christmas in Hebrew

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hebrew? HebrewPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Hebrew Christmas phrases!

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Hebrew speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, HebrewPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hebrew!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Start Learning A Language!

Table of Contents

  1. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  2. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  3. Twelve Days of Christmas
  4. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  5. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You

1. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Christmas Words in Hebrew

1- Merry Christmas!

חג מולד שמח!
khag molad sameakh!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hebrew? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

קוואנזה שמח! קוואנזה שמח!
kwanzaa shameakh!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

שתהיה לך שנה טובה!
she`tihiye lekha shanah tovah!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

חנוכה שמח!
khanukah shameakh!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

שתהיה לך חופשת חורף נהדרת!
she`tihiye lekha khufshat khoref nehederet!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

להתראות בשנה הבאה!
lehitraot be`shanah haba-ah!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

איחולים חמים!
ikhulim khamim!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Hebrew Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

חג שמח!
khag shameakh!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Hebrew, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

תהנה בחגים!
tehene ba`khagim!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hebrew, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

מיטב האיחולים לשנה החדשה!
meitav ha`ikhulim la`shanah ha`khadasha!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

2. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Hebrew! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At HebrewPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

חג המולד
khag ha`molad

This is the Hebrew word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Hebrew will include this word!

2- Snow

שלג
sheleg

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

פתיתי שלג
ptitei sheleg

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

איש שלג
ish sheleg

As you guessed – a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

הודו
hodu

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

זר
zer

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

איל
ayal

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

סנטה קלאוס
santa klaus

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

שדון
shedon

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

רודולף אדום האף
rudolf adom ha’af

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

קוטב צפוני
kotev tsfoni

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

מזחלת
miz’khelet

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

מתנה
matanah

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

פעמון
pa-amon

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

ארובה
aruba

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

אח
akh

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

יום חג המולד
yom khag ha`molad

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

קישוט
kishut

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

גרב
gerev

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

צינית
tsinit

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

בית ממתקים
beit mamtakim

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

סוכריית מקל סבא
sukaryat makel saba

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

דבקון
divkon

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

3. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Hebrew, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

4. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Hebrew! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

5. HebrewPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

We don’t just say this – we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Hebrew for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Hebrew, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, HebrewPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Hebrew. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in HebrewPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

6 Reasons to Learn a Language Before You Travel

There are plenty of destinations where you can get by with English, but sometimes you want to do better than just ‘get by’. Here are 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination.

What are the 6 reasons you should learn the basics of the language of your next trip destination?

1. You will be able to discover your destination better than other tourists.
Getting by is one thing, but actually experiencing a trip abroad is quite another. No amount of guidebooks and online research can compensate for a basic lack of language ability. Speaking the language of your destination permits you to explore that destination beyond the regular tourist traps. Your language skills will not only allow you to dig into all the hidden gems of your destination, but they will also allow you to mingle with the locals to get a true experience on your holiday. Think of it this way: you’re not restricted to talking to the people at the tourist desk anymore.

2. Knowing how to communicate with local police or medical personnel can be life-saving.
Before you leave for your destination, make sure you learn how to ask for help in that destination’s local tongue. Do you know how to ask the waiter if this dish has peanuts in it? Or tell your host family that you’re allergic to fish? Can you tell the local doctor where it hurts? Moreover, an awareness of an environment improves your chance of remaining safe inside it. For example, walking around a busy marketplace, dazzled by an unfamiliar language, signs and accents will instantly render any tourist a more attractive mark for pickpockets. Communicating with other people, asking questions and looking confident will make you look like a semi-local yourself, and will ward off potential thieves.

Click here for Hebrew Survival Phrases that will help you in almost every situation

3. It helps you relax.
Traveling is much less stressful when you understand what that announcement at the airport was saying, or if this bus line reaches your hotel. These things stress you out when traveling and they disappear when you understand the language. This allows you to focus on planning your trip in a better, easier way.

Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.

4. Speaking the language can provide you with a way to get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.
Sometimes those relationships turn into friendships, and other times they’re nothing more than a lively conversation. Either way, as Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” When you approach someone – even staff at a store or restaurant – with English, rather than their own language, an invisible divide has already been erected. Making even a small effort to communicate in the language of the place you’re visiting can go a long way and you’ll find many more doors open up to you as a result.

Click here for the Top 25 Hebrew Questions you need to know to start a conversation with anyone

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

5. You’ll be a better ambassador for your country.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know very little about other countries and cultures, especially the local politics. And what we do know is often filtered to us by the media, which tends to represent only certain interests. When you can speak the local language, you’re able to answer questions that curious locals have about your country and culture. Are you frustrated with how your country is presented in global news? Are you embarrassed by your country’s leaders and want to make it clear that not everyone is like that where you’re from? This is a very good opportunity to share your story with people who have no one else to ask. We all have a responsibility to be representatives of the place we come from.

6. Learning another language can fend off Alzheimer’s, keep your brain healthy and generally make you smarter.
For more information, check out this blog post about the 5 Benefits of Learning a New Language.