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Learn About Hebrew Verb Tenses without the Tension

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Grammar seems to be one of the least inviting parts of language learning, but it’s like stretching after exercise or checking the air in your tires before a trip: it’s something essential you have to give your attention to if you want to ensure success. 

As you learn about Hebrew verb tenses in particular, you’ll find that Hebrew grammar is actually easier than many other languages. In fact, though other linguistic means can be used to express things like conditionals, the Hebrew language has only three real tenses: simple past, simple present, and simple future. That’s right! No progressives, no perfect tenses, and no compound tenses to trip you up.

Hebrew is known for its economy, in the sense that it gets a lot of mileage out of limited language elements. The case of tenses is no exception. Although there are only three main tenses, Hebrew makes use of extra descriptors (such as time cues) for nuance; these help distinguish between a past event that just happened versus one that occurred some time ago, for instance.

In the following article, we’ll be looking at how to form the three Hebrew tenses, along with helpful examples that illustrate their use. Note that many Hebrew learners like to start learning the tenses by first mastering one tense (typically the present), and only then moving on to the rest. 

Let’s jump right in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. The Hebrew Present Tense
  2. The Hebrew Past Tense
  3. The Hebrew Future Tense
  4. The Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Using the Tenses in Hebrew
  5. Verb Conjugation Overview
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Make Your Future Plans for Hebrew Happen in the Present!

1. The Hebrew Present Tense

Stopwatch

In modern Hebrew, the present tense is used for anything that is happening right now, as well as for generally repeated actions or states such as habits. Unlike in English, there are no progressive or perfect present forms in Hebrew; these are expressed using context and time cues. It’s also important to note that there’s no form of the verb “to be,” or להיות (lehiyot), in present tense; it’s simply omitted. 

Without further ado, let’s have a look at which words and phrases are commonly used with the present tense, along with examples of how it’s used.

    1. עכשיו
    ‘Akhshav
    “Now”

    אני אוכל עכשיו.
    Ani okhel ‘akhshav.
    “I’m eating now.”

    2. בדיוק
    Bediyuk
    “Right now”

    *Note that this same word can be used to say “exactly.”

    אני בדיוק עולה לרכבת.
    Ani bediyuk ‘oleh la-rakevet.
    “I’m getting on the train right now.”

    3. כרגע
    Karega’
    “At present”

    אני לא עובד כרגע.
    Ani lo ‘oved karega’.
    “I’m not working at present.”

    4. תמיד
    Tamid
    “Always”

    אני תמיד קורא לפני השינה.
    Ani tamid kore lifney ha-sheynah.
    “I always read before bed.”

    5. כל יום/שבוע/חודש/שנה
    Kol yom/shavu’a/khodesh/shanah
    “Every day/week/month/year”

    אני עושה כושר כל יום.
    Ani ‘oseh kosher kol yom.
    “I do exercise every day.”

    *Note the difference between כל יום (kol yom), meaning “every day,” and כל היום (kol ha-yom), meaning “all day.”

2. The Hebrew Past Tense

Old Photos

In Hebrew, the past tense is used to express any completed action or state. There are no progressive or perfect past forms in Hebrew, so these are expressed using context and time cues. Below is a list of the most common words and phrases used with the past tense, along with sample sentences.

    1. אתמול
    Etmol
    “Yesterday”

    אתמול אכלתי במסעדה.
    Etmol akhalti be-mis’adah.
    Yesterday, I ate at a restaurant.”

    2. בדיוק
    Bediyuk
    “Right now”

    בדיוק עלית לרכבת.
    Bediyuk ‘aliti la-rakevet.
    “I just got on the train.”

    3. לא מזמן
    Lo mizman
    “Not long ago”

    לא מזמן ראיתי אותך בתל אביב.
    Lo mizman ra’iti otakh be-Tel Aviv.
    Not long ago, I saw you in Tel Aviv.”

    4.כבר
    Kvar
    “Already”

    כבר קראתי את העיתון היום.
    Kvar karati et ha-‘iton hayom.
    “I already read the newspaper today.”

    5.לפני שעה/יומיים/חודש/שנה
    Lifney sha’ah/yomayim/khodesh/shanah
    “An hour/two days/a month/a year ago”

    טסתי להודו לפני שנה.
    Tasti le-Hodu lifney shanah.
    “I flew to India a year ago.”

3. The Hebrew Future Tense

Road to the Future

In Hebrew, the future tense is used for any planned or projected action or state. There are no progressive or perfect future forms in Hebrew, so these are expressed using context and time cues. Note that many times, in Hebrew, we simply use one of these time or context cues with the present tense rather than the future, especially to express plans. This is akin to the use of the present progressive in English, which is used to express plans. Below is a list of the words and phrases most commonly used with the Hebrew future tense, as well as examples illustrating their use.

    1. מחר
    Makhar
    “Tomorrow”

    מחר אסע לצפון.
    Makhar esa’ la-Tzafon.
    Tomorrow, I’m going to the North.”

    *Note that, as mentioned, this same plan could be expressed using the present tense with the same time cue, as follows:

    מחר אני נוסע לצפון.
    Makhar ani nose’a la-Tzafon.
    Tomorrow, I’m going to the North.”

    2. בקרוב
    Bekarov
    “Soon”

    אנחנו נתחתן בקרוב.
    Anakhnu nitkhaten bekarov.
    “We’ll be getting married soon.”

    3. עוד מעט
    ‘Od me’at
    “In a while”

    עוד מעט נגיע הביתה.
    ‘Od me’at nagi’a habaytah.
    “We’ll get home in a while.”

    4. כבר
    Kvar
    “Already” / “In no time”

    כבר תהיה ילד גדול.
    Kvar tihiyeh yeled gadol.
    “You’ll be a big boy in no time.”

    5. בעוד שעה/יומיים/חודש/שנה
    Be-‘od sha’ah/yomayim/khodesh/shanah
    “In an hour/two days/a month/a year”

    בעוד חודש אהיה בחופש.
    Be-‘od khodesh eheyeh be-khofesh.
    In a month, I’ll be on vacation.”

4. The Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Using the Tenses in Hebrew

Infinity Clock

Now that you’ve seen some of the most common words and phrases to use with the three main tenses in Hebrew, let’s sum up by looking at the top five things you need to know in order to use the Hebrew verb tenses correctly.

1. The verb “to be” is omitted in the present tense.

As mentioned earlier, there’s no form of the Hebrew verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be,” in the present tense. But don’t worry! All you need to do is omit it (marked in the example with [-]). Here’s an example to illustrate:

    המרק הזה חם מאוד.
    Ha-marak ha-zeh [-] kham me’od.
    “This soup is very hot.”

2. There are no progressive, perfect, or compound tenses in Hebrew.

Unlike English, which has a whopping 12 tenses, Hebrew relies almost entirely on just three. For instance, the Hebrew equivalent of the English sentence “I am going to go” would be either “I go” or “I will go.” The same is true for the past tense: “I have been wondering” in Hebrew would just be “I wondered” or “I wonder.” 

Remember that to clarify and express finer nuances of time, we rely on time and context cues like the words and phrases outlined above.

3. The present tense can be used to express future plans or projections, approximating English’s -ing structure.

Just as English will often make use of the present tense to express future plans or expectations, Hebrew also makes frequent use of the present tense to express the future. For example, if you plan to rest tomorrow, you can say it in either future or present tense:

    מחר אנוח.
    Makhar anu’akh.
    “Tomorrow, I’m going to rest.”
    (FUTURE TENSE)

OR

    מחר אני נח.
    Makhar ani nakh.
    “Tomorrow, I’m going to rest.” (Literally: “Tomorrow, I rest.”)
    (PRESENT TENSE TO EXPRESS FUTURE)

4. The verb ללכת (lalekhet), or “to go/walk,” can be used to talk about future plans in the same way that English uses “going to.”

Hebrew often uses the verb ללכת (lalekhet), which literally means “to go” or “to walk,” as an auxiliary that has the same meaning it does in English when used to talk about future plans. Here’s an example:

    אני הולך לראות סרט עם חברים הערב.
    Ani holekh lirot seret ‘im khaverim ha-erev.
    “I’m going to see a movie with friends this evening.”

5. The subjunctive mood can be expressed by combining a past tense form of the verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be,” with another verb in the present tense.

The subjunctive mood is used when talking about hypothetical situations or things we would like to happen. Where English uses modal verbs like “could” and “would” or verbs of desire like “wish” and “like,” Hebrew combines the past and present tenses, with the verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be,” in the past and another main verb in the present. Here are a couple of examples:

    הייתי רוצה אוטו יותר חדש.
    Hayiti rotzeh oto yoter khadash.
    “I wish I had a newer car.” (Literally: “I would like a newer car.”)

    היית אוכלת בשר כריש?
    Hayit okhelet basar karish?
    “Would you eat shark meat?”

5. Verb Conjugation Overview

Verb Conjugation List

Finally, although we’ve covered Hebrew verb forms and conjugations in depth in other lessons, such as this one, let’s just take a quick look at the following verb conjugation table as a reminder of how this looks across the tenses. For the purposes of this lesson, let’s use the verb לאכול (le’ekhol), or “to eat.”

PresentPastFuture
1st per. sing. m./f.אני (ani)אוכל (okhel)אכלתי (akhalti)אוכל (okhal)
2nd per. sing. m.אתה (atah)אוכל (okhel)אכלת (akhalta)תאכל (tokhal)
2nd per. sing. f.את (at)אוכלת (okhelet)אכלת (akhalt)תאכלי (tokhli)
3rd per. sing. m.הוא (hu)אוכל (okhel)אכל (akhal)יאכל (yokhal)
3rd per. sing. f.היא (hi)אוכלת (okhelet)אכלה (akhlah)תאכל (tokhal)
1st per. pl.אנחנו (anakhnu)אוכלים (okhlim)אכלנו (akhalnu)נאכל (nokhal)
2nd per. pl. m.אתם (atem)אוכלים (okhlim)אכלתם (akhaltem)תאכלו (tokhlu)
2nd per. pl. f.אתן (aten)אוכלות (okhlot)אכלתן (akhalten)תאכלו (tokhlu) /
תאכלנה (tokhalnah)
3rd per. pl. m.הם (hem)אוכלים (okhlim)אכלו (akhlu)יאכלו (yokhlu)
3rd per. pl. f.הן (hen)אוכלות (okhlot)אכלו (akhlu)יאכלו (yokhlu) /
תאכלנה (tokhalnah)

6. Let HebrewPod101 Make Your Future Plans for Hebrew Happen in the Present!

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on the Hebrew verb tenses, and that you agree that they’re not too tricky in the scheme of things. Our goal at HebrewPod101 is to make sure your learning experience is a smooth process, and that you have fun along the way. Was there anything we missed in our discussion of the tenses? Any tense structures you’ve seen that we didn’t cover? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.

If you enjoyed today’s lesson, we invite you to peruse the wealth of resources we have available on our website for your benefit. Whether you need to work on some sticky grammar points or are just looking to build up your Hebrew vocabulary, we’ve got it covered in our text and audiovisual lessons. 

We hope to see you next time, and until then, shalom!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Hebrew?

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How long does it take to learn Hebrew? This is an altogether common question for people interested in picking up this ancient, vibrant, and wholly unique language. 

No two students are alike, so the answer to this question will vary based on who you are and how you go about studying. For example, if you already know how to read the Hebrew alphabet, you’ll surely progress much faster than someone starting from scratch. Or if you’re able to do immersion learning in Israel, you’ll likely progress more quickly than someone learning in a place where they can’t engage with Hebrew day and night.

Of course, motivation is one of the most central factors in determining how fast you progress with a language. For instance, if you’re learning Hebrew in order to land a new business contract—or better yet, to impress a girl or guy you met at a party—you’ll likely find yourself progressing at a faster clip than someone who, say, has to learn Hebrew because their parents think it’s important for them to be able to read prayers or the Torah.

In any case, today we’ll be looking at:

  • Factors that can influence your learning speed
  • The essential skills you’ll need to reach the beginner, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew proficiency levels
  • Some helpful tips on how to learn Hebrew fast

We’ll also talk about how long you can expect it to take you to reach each of these levels, though the numbers can vary quite a bit from one language learner to the next. Without further ado, let’s have a look at how long it takes to learn Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed

Car Going Over Speed Bump

Before we look at each level and what it entails, let’s look at some more general factors that are likely to influence your learning speed.

Motivation

As mentioned previously, your motivation level is going to be reflected in the speed at which you progress with your Hebrew studies. Generally speaking, an intrinsically motivated student, meaning someone who is learning Hebrew out of his or her own personal choice, is going to find it much easier to advance. This is because there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found in achieving something you set your mind to. Plus, you’re typically going to be able to use Hebrew for a specific goal, which can be very gratifying, indeed.

Chances are, if you’re reading this lesson, you already have some reason for wanting to improve your Hebrew. But even if that isn’t the case, try to set your eyes on smaller goals that you can keep at the front of your mind as you study. This will help keep you motivated as you progress through your stated goals and feel that sense of accomplishment. For example, you may want to be able to sing along with a Hebrew song you like or to read Hebrew without nikkud. Keep your goals realistic for your current level, rather than overshooting it!

Your language(s) going in

Language Books

One thing that’s going to make a huge difference in terms of how fast you progress with Hebrew is the language(s) you speak going in. Because Hebrew is a member of the Semitic language family, you’ll be more comfortable with the way Hebrew works if you speak any Arabic or Farsi, for example. This is because these languages share common traits (such as being read and written right to left) and comparable grammar logic. 

English speakers are unlikely to find any foothold here, as they would with Germanic or Romance languages. Hebrew is altogether distinct from these language families and really bears no resemblance to English (other than all the loanwords it has from English, Latin, and other international languages). You may well recognize individual words, but don’t expect this to get you too far. At the end of the day, you just have to accept that the Hebrew language has its own separate character, rules, and approach to expressing the world.

Your linguistic abilities and experience in general

Another key factor is any prior experience you have with languages. For example, if you grew up bilingual or polyglot, you’ll likely have a leg up on someone who is monolingual—even if none of the languages you know are Semitic! This is partly due to something known as “tolerance for ambiguity,” a term that refers to a language learner’s willingness to accept and assimilate language features that differ from what s/he knows from her/his native tongue(s).

Moreover, if you’ve ever studied a language before, whether Hebrew or any other language foreign to you, your prior experience is likely to have some bearing on how you approach your Hebrew learning. For example, if you had good language teachers in school who inculcated healthy learning habits and gave you an overall positive language learning experience, you’re likely to have an easier time taking up a new language. On the other hand, if you had lousy teachers, you may be somewhat traumatized from these experiences and need to develop new habits and a new attitude toward language learning.

How and where you’re studying

Woman Studying from Books

As we said in the introduction, immersion studying is always going to be ideal, but it may not be a possibility for everyone who wants to learn Hebrew. If you can find a way to spend time in Israel, you’ll be able to benefit from constant exposure to the Hebrew language through interactions with other people, listening to the news, watching TV, etc., all in Hebrew. However, if you can’t physically go to Israel, try your best to boost your exposure to Hebrew by taking advantage of the wealth of media available online. For example, you can check out Hebrew-language Netflix series, Hebrew songs on YouTube, and even Hebrew-language forums.

Apart from location, it will be beneficial to have some sort of structure to your learning. This will help to ensure that you progress in a linear fashion, building your knowledge successively and acquiring all the skills you need in one level before running ahead to a more advanced one. It will also prevent you from feeling like you’re drowning in an overwhelming sea of information, without knowing how to progress.

It’s always a good idea to vary your learning, as well. We recommend using a mix of serious and fun learning materials (for example, grammar lessons vs. lessons on slang), as well as giving all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) equal attention. Of course, there are some situations where you may need to hone only one or two skills. For example, in an academic setting, you may only need to be able to read Hebrew (and not produce it). Or maybe you simply want to learn conversational Hebrew and have little interest in learning to read it. In such cases, you may want to focus only on the necessities.

Beginner Level

The beginner level is just what it sounds like. This level describes someone who is in the initial phases of acquiring the Hebrew language. 

The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) groups world languages into four different categories, with Category I languages being the most similar to English and Category IV languages being the least similar. They have ranked Hebrew as a Category III language, meaning it has significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English. Languages in this category are estimated to require 44 weeks (or 1100 hours) in order to reach “General Professional Proficiency” in speaking and reading. This would be equivalent to Intermediate Level on HebrewPod101.com.

Extrapolating based on this projection, the average time it takes to reach the beginner level might be something like 22 weeks (or 550 hours), if we assume that the beginner level is halfway to the intermediate level. 

At the beginner level, the assumption is that you’re building up a lot of passive knowledge, but obviously with the goal of being able to apply it and produce language (i.e. speak or write) more and more as you progress.

Wondering how to learn Hebrew from scratch? Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to master as a beginner:

The alphabet – אלפבית (alefbeyt)

Hebrew Book

As Hebrew does not use the Latin alphabet, you’ll need to learn to read the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. To make things more complicated, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that vowels are not letters but diacritical marks placed above, below, or within the letters, which are all consonants or vowel-bearing placeholders. To make it just a bit more complicated, these diacritical marks, called ניקוד (nikkud), are almost universally omitted from written and printed Hebrew and therefore need to be deduced from context. However, many learning materials include them for the benefit of the student reader. One last complication is that Hebrew uses one script for print and another for handwriting, so you’ll probably want to learn both of these.

Basic verbs

Verbs are action words, so you won’t see much action without them! The good news about Hebrew verbs is that there are only three main tenses—simple past, simple present, and simple future—and there’s no verb “to be” in present tense. The bad news is that there are a whopping seven conjugation patterns to learn.

Male and female forms

One of the aspects of Hebrew that tends to be particularly tricky for speakers of non-gendered languages, such as English, is the fact that Hebrew uses male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb conjugations.

Talking about yourself

Two women talking

At the beginner level, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself and how to say basic things about yourself, such as where you’re from and what you do.

Saying hello and goodbye

You won’t get very far without these essential skills.

Countries, nationalities, and languages of the world

The beginner level is a great place to learn these, starting with your own country of origin, nationality, and language(s). Once you have those down, you can progress to other countries, nationalities, and languages so that you can also talk about other people in this regard.

Likes and dislikes

Woman Making Face of Displeasure

As a beginner, you should learn to express basic likes and dislikes, as well as things like your hobbies and pastimes.

Food and drink

In Israel, we love food! So, no basic Hebrew-language education would be complete without learning how to discuss food. This includes verbs, nouns, and adjectives for eating, drinking, ordering at a restaurant, etc.

Work and school

You’ll also want to know how to talk about work and school, including the vocabulary for different professions and careers.

Numbers and time

Numbers on Check

Finally, numbers and the related topic of telling time are also essential for the beginner level. Note that Hebrew also has male and female forms for numbers, so you’ll want to master this, as well.

Intermediate Level

As you progress, you’ll move on to the intermediate level, which is where many students feel comfortable staying. At this level, which, as mentioned, might take around 44 weeks (1100 hours), you’ll already be getting much more comfortable holding a basic conversation and generally defending yourself in Hebrew.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to acquire at the intermediate level of Hebrew:

Dealing with travel situations

Because this is an essential skill set that draws on various abilities, you should get to a certain level of comfort when handling travel situations. This includes things like taking a taxi and buying bus tickets, as well as asking for and even giving directions.

Writing simple texts

Icon of Envelope

At this level, you should be able to produce simple texts, such as short text messages and emails or brief descriptions.

Describing things with some detail

Man Talking

At this point, you should also be acquiring sufficient vocabulary. This includes not only nouns and verbs, but also adjectives and adverbs which will permit you to describe experiences, plans, and opinions with some level of detail and precision.

Reading and understanding more complex texts

Books

You should be able to read and comprehend more complex texts such as news items or technical articles in fields you’re familiar with, such as those related to your profession. Much of this, of course, will have to do with vocabulary acquisition.

Have lengthier, more complex conversations

Again, as you progress in your ability to understand speech spoken at native speeds, and as you build up your own ability to speak with fluency, you should be able to engage in more interesting and drawn-out conversations.

Advanced Level

First of all, it should be noted that there really isn’t a limit to the advanced level. While there is a distinction in terms of skills and abilities when compared to the intermediate and beginner levels, you can take the advanced level just about as far as you wish—even to the point of achieving what’s known as near fluency. 

So, how long does it take to learn Hebrew fluently? A conservative estimate might be something like 2 years, though a really motivated and talented student might get there as soon as, say, 18 months.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities that pertain to the advanced level of Hebrew-language study:

Understanding longer and more demanding texts or conversations

As you grow your vocabulary and improve your grasp of things like grammar and syntax, you should be able to fend for yourself even when reading complex texts such as full-length books, opinion pieces, and even poems and song lyrics. You should also be able to engage in lengthy and complex conversations, such as discussing your opinions on politics or talking about technical matters.

Expressing ideas comfortably and in a fluid manner

Woman with Lots of Thought Bubbles

By now, you should feel comfortable expressing most of your thoughts and ideas with fluency, which in the literal sense means that your speech flows, without much stuttering, hesitation, or searching for words.

Effectively using language in social, academic, and professional situations

Your broad vocabulary, improved grammar, and stronger rhetorical abilities should enable you to feel comfortable using language in functional settings, such as at work or school, or in making and getting to know friends…or even that special someone.

Writing well-structured, detailed texts on complex topics

Woman Working on a Written Project

Assuming you’re focusing on writing and not just speaking, you should now be able to write more complex texts, such as essays and full-length letters or emails. You should have a solid grasp of different registers (e.g. formal vs. informal) and when to employ them.

Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster

Regardless of your current level or your language learning goals, there are several things you can do to make the most of your study time. Here are our top ten tips for how to learn Hebrew faster!

1. Read both with and without vowels to practice word recognition.

This is obviously going to be more important at the beginner level (and perhaps the intermediate level, to some extent), as the expectation is that by the time you reach the intermediate level, you’ll have become comfortable reading without vowels. That’s why it’s important to start practicing this ability as early as possible.

2. Keep track of vocabulary.

Record new words as you go, using a notebook or even your phone. Also, quiz yourself regularly to make sure you’re retaining this vocabulary.

3. Make sure to talk to native speakers, and ask them to correct you.

Two men in conversation

This is obviously much easier to do if you’re physically in Israel, but even if you’re not, you should do whatever it takes to find some native speakers in your town or online. This way, you can practice speaking Hebrew with someone who can offer you helpful feedback on your use of the language.

4. Watch and listen to plenty of media in Hebrew.

One of the best and most enjoyable ways to improve your Hebrew is to take advantage of the wealth of media available, particularly online, in the Hebrew language. Watch Hebrew TV shows and movies, and listen to Hebrew music as much as you can, especially with subtitles in Hebrew (see below).

5. Study with a partner.

Dancers

This may not be for everyone, but many people find that a study partner can be a great way to get mutual encouragement. It can also help with any anxiety when it comes to speaking. Obviously, it’s always best to try to find someone who is more or less at the same level of proficiency as you are.

6. Be willing to make mistakes.

Numerous studies have shown that the most successful language learners are those who go easy on themselves. Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning languages, so don’t just allow for this—expect it. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make a silly mistake, rather than getting caught up on it.

7. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.

Question Marks and Light Bulb

According to a Hebrew proverb, a bashful person makes for a poor student, and a strict person makes for a bad teacher. Part of any successful learning endeavor is a sense of comfort about asking questions whenever you’re in doubt. So when in doubt, ask someone for help!

8. Practice pronunciation in front of the mirror.

Woman in front of mirror

This will probably feel funny at first, but by actually watching what your mouth is doing when you speak, you have a better chance of honing in on the mechanics of producing the right sounds to approximate native-sounding Hebrew. In the same vein, pay attention to what you see Israelis’ mouths doing when they make any sounds you’re having difficulty with, and do your best to mimic them when you practice.

9. Do karaoke in Hebrew.

This one’s a no-brainer. Not only is it fun to let loose in front of the karaoke screen, but actually singing a song to beat is a great way of drumming language into your head—literally.

10. Use subtitles to help connect words to sound.

Popcorn and Remote

Subtitles are your friend. They’re a fantastic tool for working on anything, from expanding your vocabulary to recognizing words without vowels to picking up on grammar and syntax structures. 

As a beginner, you’ll likely need subtitles in your native language, but as you progress, you can use subtitles in a more challenging way. An intermediate student, for example, can pick up a lot of new words by watching TV or movies in his/her native tongue, with Hebrew subtitles to accompany it. As you advance, however, challenge yourself to watch Hebrew-language TV shows and movies with Hebrew subtitles. This can go a long way toward helping you connect the physical appearance of words with the sounds they make.

Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

As you can see, there are many components to tackle in mastering the Hebrew language. We at HebrewPod101 are proud to offer you a broad array of learning materials to ensure that you learn comfortably and at as fast a pace as you desire.

Whether you prefer audio lessons or written ones like this one, our library of materials is diverse and designed with the optimal student experience in mind. In addition to our learning materials, we also offer numerous lessons addressing tips and techniques to make your learning more efficient and more enjoyable. 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the process of learning Hebrew? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.

Until next lesson, shalom!

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Hebrew Proverbs: Right from the Source

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The word “proverb” is generally used to refer to a traditional saying that boils down a commonsense observation about life into a pithy adage, often through the use of a metaphor or some other rhetorical device. All languages, it would seem, express the wisdom of the ages using concise sayings that are easy to remember and recall to use for strategic effect. Indeed, the name of the game is knowing the right proverb for the right moment.

In the case of Hebrew proverbs, there’s an extensive arsenal to draw on. In fact, one of the oldest examples of a proverb folklore is the Book of Proverbs, which represents one of the Hebrew language’s greatest contributions to world literature. This book, of course, is part of a longstanding tradition of Hebrew proverbs, from Biblical times through the Rabbinic period, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and right into modern times. As the People of the Book, Jews have long considered a well-turned phrase burnished at just the right moment to be a mark of erudition and eloquence.

Man Reading Bible

Of course, the vast majority of these old Hebrew proverbs are religious in nature and emanate from religious sources, namely the Hebrew Bible and the vast library of exegetical works (works that interpret the Bible). Because modern Israel is a largely secular country, some portion of these proverbs have certainly been relegated to the demographically more limited sphere of Israel’s religious communities. However, there’s still a large number of Hebrew proverbs used by the general public.

In any event, nothing will add stripes to your rank as a speaker of the language like a few pithy proverbs in Hebrew to employ at a choice moment in your conversation with a native speaker. To that end, our lesson today will cover the top thirty Hebrew proverbs along with context examples to help you know when best to use them.

Friends Having a Conversation
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  1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs
  2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs

אכול ושתו כי מחר נמות .1

TransliterationAkhol ve-shato ki makhar namut.
Literal translation“Eat and drink for tomorrow we shall die.”
SourceIsaiah 22:13
Parallel English proverbLife is short.
Usage in contextYour friend is trying to convince you to go skydiving with him, but you’re on the fence due to safety concerns. To try to win you over, he uses this phrase.

2. אם אין אני לי מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי?

TransliterationIm eyn ani li mi li? U-kh’she-ani le-’atzmi, mah ani? Ve-im lo ‘akhshav, eymatay?
Literal translation“If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, then when?”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbThere’s no time like the present. [last part]
Usage in contextThis proverb is often quoted in part, depending on the application. For example:

It’s Friday, and you’re considering going to visit the Dead Sea for the first time, but you know you have a work assignment to hand in on Monday. To give you a bit of a push, your friend (who wants you to go with him) says, ואם לא עכשיו אימתי? (Ve-im lo ‘akhshav eymatay?)

Man Looking at Watch

3. מצא מין את מינו.

TransliterationMatza min et mino.
Literal translation“He found his own type.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLike two peas in a pod.
Usage in contextYour brother, who is a classical pianist, tells you about a date he went on with a classical violinist, to which you reply with this proverb.

4. ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

TransliterationVe-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha.
Literal translation“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Source Leviticus 19:18
Parallel English proverbSame as in Hebrew
Usage in contextA taxi driver wants to nudge in ahead of you at a merge onto the road. He rolls down his window, signaling for you to let him in, and quotes this proverb.

5. כל אהבה שהיא תלויה בדבר בטל דבר בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר אינה בטלה לעולם.

TransliterationKol ahavah she-hi tluyah be-davar batel davar batlah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah tluyah be-davar eynah betelah le’olam.
Literal translation“Any love that depends upon a thing is annulled if that thing is annulled. Love that does not depend upon a thing will never be annulled.”
SourcePirkei Avot 5:19
Parallel English proverbTrue love lasts forever.
Usage in contextYou tell your Israeli girlfriend you need to go on a business trip abroad for a couple of months, and ask if she’ll wait for you to return. She replies with this proverb.

Hands Forming Heart Shape

6. כל הפוסל במומו פוסל.

TransliterationKol ha-posel be-mumo posel.
Literal translation“He who invalidates another invalidates himself.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Kidushin 70:2
Parallel English proverbWhat you spot is what you’ve got.
Usage in contextYou criticize your neighbor for leaving trash outside his front door, and he points to your mailbox full of old mail, quoting this proverb.

Woman Looking in Rearview Mirror

7. עבר יומו בטל קרבנו.

Transliteration‘Avar yomo batel korbano.
Literal translation“Its day passed, its sacrifice was annulled.”
SourceTosefet Masekhet Berakhot 4
Parallel English proverbYou missed the boat.
Usage in contextYou forget your friend’s birthday, but offer to take him out to eat a month later. She replies with this proverb.

8. לכל זמן, ועת לכל חפץ תחת השמים.

TransliterationLa-kol zman, ve-’et le-khol khefetz takhat ha-shamayim.
Literal translation“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”
SourceEcclesiastes 3:1
Parallel English proverbEverything in its own time.
Usage in contextYou ask your father when he’s going to retire already, and he replies with this proverb.

9. תפשת מרובה לא תפשת.

TransliterationTafasta merubeh lo tafasta.
Literal translation“If you grab too much, you grab nothing.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Sukkah 5:1
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite off more than you can chew.
Usage in contextYou tell your parents you’re going to double major in biochemistry and plasma physics, and your mother replies with this proverb.

10. חזית איש מהיר במלאכתו, לפני מלכים יתיצב.

TransliterationKhazita ish mahir bi-m’lakhto lifney melakhim yityatzev.
Literal translation“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.”
SourceProverbs 22:29
Parallel English proverbPractice makes perfect.
Usage in contextYou observe a master falafel hawker flipping the balls high into the air so they land right in the pita, and you say this proverb to your friend in admiration.

11. לעולם יאכל אדם פחות מן הראוי לו לפי ממונו וילבש כראוי לו ויכבד אשתו ובניו יותר מן הראוי לו.

TransliterationLe-’olam yokhal adam pakhot min ha-ra’uy lo lefi mamono ve-yilbash ka-ra’uy lo vi-yekhabed ishto u-vanav yoter min ha-ra’uy lo.
Literal translation“A man should always eat less than is befitting him, dress as is befitting him, and provide for his wife and children more than is befitting him.”
SourceHilkhot De’ah 5:10
Parallel English proverbNone.
Usage in contextThis might be good advice to a friend trying to budget their expenses, as it relates to monetary priorities vis-à-vis one’s earnings.

12. על ראש הגנב בוער הכובע.

Transliteration‘Al rosh ha-ganav bo’er ha-kova’.
Literal translation“The hat burns atop the thief’s head.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLiar, liar, pants on fire.
Usage in contextYou see that the prime minister is nervous and fidgety in an interview about the criminal embezzlement leveled against him, and you say this proverb in response.

Burglar

13. אין דבר העומד בפני הרצון.

TransliterationEyn davar ha-’omed bifney ha-ratzon.
Literal translation“Nothing can stand before will.”
SourceThe Book of Zohar
Parallel English proverbWhere there’s a will, there’s a way.
Usage in contextYour sister asks you how you’re able to learn so much Hebrew on HebrewPod101.com, and you reply with this proverb.

14. קנה חכמה מה טוב מחרוץ וקנות בינה נבחר מכסף.

TransliterationKno khokhmah mah tov me-kharutz u-knot binah nivkhar mi-kasef.
Literal translation“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.”
SourceProverbs 16:16
Parallel English proverbThe greatest wealth is wisdom.
Usage in contextYour grandfather asks you why you’re studying philosophy at university instead of business management, and you reply with this proverb.

15. איזה הוא חכם? הלומד מכל אדם.

TransliterationEyzeh hu khakham? Ha-lomed mi-kol adam.
Literal translation“Who is the wise man? He who learns from all men.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbYou can learn something from everyone.
Usage in contextYou complain to your friends about your new roommate, who is very different from you, and they reply with this proverb.

16. כי ברב חכמה רב כעס, ויוסיף דעת יוסיף מכאוב.

TransliterationKi be-rov khokhmah rov ka’as, ve-yosif da’at yosif makh’ov.
Literal translation“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
SourceEcclesiastes 1:18
Parallel English proverbIgnorance is bliss.
Usage in contextYour boyfriend starts reading the nutritional values label on your favorite ice cream, and you tell him to stop, citing this proverb.

17. צרת רבים חצי נחמה.

TransliterationTzarat rabim khatzi nekhamah.
Literal translation“Suffering when shared is half a comfort.”
SourcePopular (based on Midrash Rabah)
Parallel English proverbMisery loves company.
Usage in contextA group of your employees all gather around to complain about the new strict boss, and you offer this proverb as a slight consolation.

18. איזהו גיבור? הכובש את יצרו.

TransliterationEyzehu gibor? Ha-kovesh et yitzro.
Literal translation“Who is the hero? He who conquers his urges.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbDiscipline is wisdom and vice-versa.
Usage in contextYou are about to go for seconds at your favorite pizzeria, and your brother mentions this proverb while reminding you of your newly adopted diet.

Saluting Silhouette

19. אילני סרק קולם הולך.

TransliterationIylaney srak kolam holekh.
Literal translation“Barren trees make much noise.”
SourceGenesis Rabba 16:3
Parallel English proverbAn empty barrel makes the most noise.
Usage in contextYou call out one of your colleagues (a notorious know-it-all who always has something nasty to say about everyone), using this proverb to put her in her place.

20. אין חכם כבעל ניסיון.

TransliterationEyn khakham ke-va’al nisayon.
Literal translation“There is none wiser than the experienced.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbExperience makes the best teacher.
Usage in contextWhen you ask your teacher why she’s given you so much homework, she replies with this proverb.

21. לא הבישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד.

TransliterationLo ha-bayshan lamed ve-lo ha-kapdan melamed.
Literal translation“Neither does the timid learn nor the strict teach.”
SourcePirkei Avot 2:5
Parallel English proverbNone
Usage in contextThis is something a student might say in criticism of a teacher who does not invite questions, or that a teacher might say of a student who’s too afraid to ask them.

22. דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים. 

TransliterationDivrey khakhamim be-nakhat nishma’im.
Literal translation“Wise words should be spoken pleasantly.”
SourceEcclesiastes 9:17
Parallel English proverbYou can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Usage in contextYou ask your friend how best to talk to your neighbors about their loud parties, and he cites this proverb.

23. סייג לחכמה שתיקה.

TransliterationSyag le-khokhmah shtikah.
Literal translation“Silence is a fence around wisdom.”
SourcePirkei Avot 3:13
Parallel English proverbBetter to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Usage in contextJust before you raise your hand at your first work meeting, your colleague whispers this proverb in your ear.

Man Zipping Lips

24. והוי זנב לאריות, ואל תהי ראש לשועלים.

TransliterationVe-hevi zanav la-arayot, ve-al tehi rosh la-shu’alim.
Literal translation“It is better to be the tail of the lion than the head of the fox.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:15
Parallel English proverbBetter the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. (It’s humorous to note that the parallels are opposite!)
Usage in contextYou’re offered a position with a lower salary than your current job, but at a leading firm with lots of opportunity. Your friend offers you this proverb as advice.

25. בור ששתית ממנו אל תזרוק בו אבן.

TransliterationBor she-shatita mimenu al tizrok bo even.
Literal translation“Don’t throw stones into a well you’ve drunk from.”
SourceNumbers Rabba 22
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Usage in contextYour father tells you not to criticize your mother’s coddling, mentioning this proverb.

26. אמור מעט ועשה הרבה.

TransliterationEmor me’at va-’aseh harbeh.
Literal translation“Speak little and do much.”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbActions speak louder than words.
Usage in contextAfter hearing about your plans to finally learn Hebrew, your brother offers you this proverb by way of advice.

Woman Rock Climbing

27. אל יתהלל חגר כמפתח.

TransliterationAl yithalel khoger ki-mefate’akh.
Literal translation“Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off.”
Source1 Kings 20:11
Parallel English proverbDon’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Usage in contextYou announce to your boyfriend that you’re sure you’ll get the scholarship you applied for, and he replies cautiously with this proverb.

28. חושך שבטו שונא בנו.

TransliterationKhosekh shivto sone beno.
Literal translation“He that spareth his rod hateth his son.”
SourceProverbs 13:24
Parallel English proverbSpare the rod and spoil the child.
Usage in contextYour friend admonishes you with this proverb for letting your grounded son go out to play with his friends after feeling bad for him.

29. שלח לחמך על פני המים כי ברב הימים תמצאנו.

TransliterationShlakh lakhmekha ‘al pney ha-mayim ki be-rov ha-yamim timtza’enu.
Literal translation“Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”
SourceEcclesiastes 11:1
Parallel English proverbWhat goes around comes around.
Usage in contextYour grandmother encourages you to give to charity, mentioning this proverb.

30. טובים השנים מן האחד.

TransliterationTovim ha-shnayim min ha-ekhad.
Literal translation“Two are better than one.”
SourceEcclesiastes 4:9
Parallel English proverbTwo heads are better than one.
Usage in contextWhen you finally meet ‘the one’ and bring him home to meet the family, your father happily quotes this proverb.

Cutout of Two People

2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on Hebrew proverbs, and that you found our selection of proverbs useful, interesting, and enlightening. Obviously, it would be a lot to expect anyone to memorize all thirty of these; we recommend working on just a couple at a time. You’ll be sure to get some pleasantly surprised reactions when you whip out a perfectly timed Hebrew proverb with your Israeli friends!

Was there anything related to Hebrew proverbs that we didn’t cover today, or anything we did cover that you’d like to know more about? We at HebrewPod101 are always happy to hear from you, so please feel free to get in touch with us. Until next time, Shalom!

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Jerusalem Travel Guide: The Top 10 Places in the Holy City

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Language, culture, and place are inseparably linked. Indeed, they have a dynamic relationship, with language shaping culture, and culture carving place into stone. In the case of a language as old as Hebrew, a nation as ancient as the Jewish people, and a city as old as Jerusalem, understanding the interplay between language, culture, and place is absolutely key to cracking Hebrew’s code.

In this Jerusalem travel guide, you’ll learn about the top attractions in Jerusalem for visitors as well as the culture and history of this magnificent city. It has been the center of Jewish culture for several millennia, and discovering everything it has to offer will give you a much deeper insight into how much the Hebrew language mirrors the story of the Jewish people.

Each has faced many perils as well as many triumphs, and each is woven from a dizzyingly diverse loom of threads that make up the tapestry of this city and its people. But perhaps most of all, Jerusalem is an incredible living analogy of the Jews’ ability to come out of each struggle, over more than two millennia, with a stronger and richer identity. Some of this story is set in stone (like at the Western Wall), and some of it is ever-changing (like the Jerusalem skyline of today).

Jerusalem Skyline

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go – לפני הנסיעה (Lifney ha-Nesi’ah)
  2. Must-See Places for Shorter Trips (1-3 Days)
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a Longer Trip (4-7 Days or Longer)
  4. Bonus: Survival Hebrew for Your Trip
  5. Make the Most of Your Trip and Prepare in Advance with HebrewPod101

Before You Go – לפני הנסיעה (Lifney ha-Nesi’ah

To get the most out of your trip to Jerusalem, it’s best to prepare yourself with a little background information about the city’s long history as well as some basic travel info. 

Obviously, you can enjoy Jerusalem even if you show up clueless. But considering the thousands of years of stories that the very stones seem to breathe, acquainting yourself even briefly with the city’s history will definitely make for a more meaningful visit. 

We’ll also look at the layout of Jerusalem’s Old City, discuss when the tourist season is, and cover a basic packing list to help you show up prepared for any eventuality.


Jerusalem at Dusk

A Short History of the Holy City

ירושלים (Yerushalayim), or Jerusalem, is located in the Judean Mountains, or הרי יהודה (Harey Yehudah), between the Mediterranean Sea (Ha-Yam ha-Tikhon) and the Dead Sea, or ים המלח (Yam ha-Melakh). 

Though there is evidence that Jerusalem may have been first inhabited by humans as early as the Early Bronze Age, some 5,500 years ago, the city is believed to have risen to prominence sometime between the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE. During this time, it was the capital of the Israelite United Monarchy as established under King David and consolidated under his son, King Solomon.

King Solomon is credited with building the Holy Temple, called בית המקדש (Beyt ha-Mikdash) in Hebrew. To this day, it remains the locus of Jewish prayer and the holiest place on Earth for Jews. Remnants of the Temple, most notably the Western Wall, or הכותל המערבי (Ha-Kotel ha-Ma’aravi), still draw in pilgrims from all over the world. It’s customary to place pieces of paper with prayers written on them between the cracks of the stones of this ancient wall.

The Babylonians occupied Jerusalem in 586 BCE, destroyed the Holy Temple, and exiled much of the Jewish population. Half a century later, King Cyrus the Great of Persia defeated the Babylonians and invited back the exiled Jews and allowed them to rebuild their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This rebuilt Temple stood as the Jewish center of political and religious power until the Roman Exile in the year 70 CE, when the Temple was once again destroyed—this time without being rebuilt. In-between its two destructions, it’s worth mentioning that the Temple was sacked, looted, and defiled (though not destroyed) by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he invaded and occupied Israel and Jerusalem in 168 BCE. The Temple was eventually won back and rededicated by the Maccabees.

Menorah

Following the Roman Exile, Jerusalem pertained to the Roman, Byzantine, and Sassanid Empires, then a myriad of Muslim Caliphates interspersed with brief periods of Christian Crusader rule, and followed by long periods under Mamluk (and later, Ottoman) rule. The latter ended in World War I, when the British defeated the Turks in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the result of which saw British rule over the region—including Jerusalem—under the British Mandate. Jerusalem was finally returned to Jewish hands in 1948, with the British exit from then-Palestine following the U.N. vote to partition the region to an Arab and Jewish state.

Afterwards, Jerusalem was to be divided in the course of the imminent War of Independence, with east Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) falling outside Israeli control. Jerusalem was declared reunified by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War and made its capital, with Israeli government organs moving there from the city of Tel Aviv.

Today, Jerusalem bears traces, architectural and otherwise, of all the different stages of its long history of conquests. Indeed, one can literally trace the timeline of history by visiting different places in the city that pertained to different empires over the course of time. 

And on top of all this history, of course, Jerusalem is home to a kaleidoscope culture forged by the fusion between old and new stories, local traditions, and the rainbow of influences from the ongoing influx of immigrants and tourists. It’s a unique case of the ancient and the modern in symbiosis.

The Weather in Jerusalem

Clouds

Jerusalem sees little to no precipitation between May and October. April, May, and October are the most pleasant of these months, with average temperatures between 20º Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) and 25º Celsius (77° Fahrenheit). July and August are the warmest months, with average temperatures of 28° Celsius (82° Fahrenheit), although it obviously can and does get hotter. June and September are also still quite warm, but the good news is that throughout this period without precipitation, Jerusalem, with an elevation of 785 meters (2,575 feet) above sea level, remains fairly dry. Obviously, the elevation also contributes to cooler evening temperatures than one might find along Israel’s coastal plain, for example.

The rainy season sets in toward the end of October and typically lasts into April. January is usually the coldest and wettest month, with an average high temperature of 11° Celsius (51° Fahrenheit). It can and does also snow in Jerusalem, thanks to the elevation, though most of the city’s precipitation comes in the form of cold rain.

When to Visit Jerusalem

Taking the climate into account, the best time to visit Jerusalem weather-wise is from April to May and from October to November, when the weather is usually mild and pleasant. However, major Jewish holidays may fall during these time frames—namely the High Holy Days, Sukkot, and Passover—and the city will inevitably be packed, regardless of the weather.

Old City vs. New City Jerusalem

Alleyways

A general fact about Jerusalem you should be aware of is that it’s divided into the Old City, or העיר העתיקה (Ha-’Ir ha-’Atikah), which is delineated by the old city walls, and the rest of Jerusalem, which is quite sprawling. 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old City represented the extent of Jerusalem’s development until the first Jewish settlement outside the walls in the nineteenth century. Beyond, at the time, lay an expanse of wilderness, with the added deterrent of desert marauders plundering wayfarers. The Old City contains the lion’s share of historic sites tourists tend to visit, including the city’s walls and gates themselves. That said, there’s also plenty of history to be found outside the Old City limits.

Though today it’s a large and spread-out city, the New City was slow in coming at the start. Between 1859 and 1860, in light of overcrowding and generally poor conditions within the city walls, Jewish benefactors Moses Montefiori and Judah Touro built the first Jewish settlement outside of them. Mishkenot Sha’ananim (משכנות שאננים, literally: “Peaceful Habitations”) was a hard sell at first, despite the improved housing it offered. It was in territory subject to Bedoin attacks, lying as it did outside the protection of Jerusalem’s walls. However, Jews were ultimately incentivized to move there, and a protective wall and gate were constructed around the neighborhood for added protection. 

Two additional Jewish neighborhoods were built outside the city walls in 1869: Mahane Israel (מחנה ישראל, literally: “The Camp of Israel”) and Nahalat Shiv’a (נחלת שבעה, literally: “The Seven’s Estate,” in reference to the seven families who founded it). This marked a trend that slowly picked up momentum, and which has continued to boom ever since.

Language in Jerusalem

People with Speech Bubbles

Even if your Hebrew is basic or non-existent, you’ll be able to get by just fine in Jerusalem. Public officials, such as police, and most people under age fifty should speak some English—at least enough to direct a tourist. However, Hebrew will no doubt get you much further, so it’s wise to brush up before your visit. You’ll also find plenty of Arabic speakers, especially in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and in East Jerusalem. Thanks to more recent waves of immigration, you may also find speakers of just about any other language you can think of, most notably Russian, Amharic, and French.

Essential Packing List

Suitcase

While everyone’s packing list will be somewhat unique, the following is a list of essential items you would be wise to bring with you on your trip to Jerusalem.

  1. Clothes suitable for the time of year you’re traveling, plus something warmer or cooler for evenings, sudden changes of temperature, outings to the beach or desert, etc.
  2. A rain jacket or umbrella, if you’re traveling during the rainy season
  3. Gloves, a scarf, and warm outerwear for cold weather (You’d be surprised how cold Jerusalem can feel, even if the thermometer isn’t reading as low as you would think!)
  4. Sunglasses—a must!
  5. A brimmed hat or other head covering
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Comfortable shoes or sandals for walking
  8. A water bottle
  9. Maps to navigate
  10. A journal to record your experiences
  11. A camera or your cellphone for snapping selfies
  12. Modest clothing if you plan on entering any holy sites or neighborhoods
  13. Your best negotiation skills for haggling at the market!

Must-See Places for Shorter Trips (1-3 Days)

Girl with Camera

Now that we’ve covered Jerusalem’s history and have our suitcases packed, let’s take a look at the top five places you should put on your Jerusalem travel list.

1. The Old City – העיר העתיקה (Ha-’Ir ha-’Atikah)

As mentioned earlier, the Old City is the geographic and historical heart of Jerusalem—this makes it one of those places you must visit in Jerusalem to make your trip complete. There are four quarters of the Old City: the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Each quarter has its own attractions, so let’s have a brief look at each one.

Jewish Quarter – הרובע היהודי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Yehudi)

The Jewish Quarter centers around the Western Wall Plaza, with steps and alleys winding out of the broad open space into a tight labyrinth of a neighborhood. The main attraction is obviously the Western Wall itself. 

Note that there’s a men’s side and a women’s side, and that men should wear a head covering and women modest clothing if approaching the wall. 

While the Western Wall is the last exposed remnant of the ancient Holy Temple, you can also explore tunnels with access to additional excavated remnants. Apart from the Western Wall, the Cardo is another great spot. Dating from Byzantine times, these are remnants of the original colonnaded structures that lined what was the city’s main thoroughfare in Roman times.

Muslim Quarter – הרובע המוסלמי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Muslemi)

The Muslim Quarter is more crowded and active than the sleepier Jewish Quarter, and its main attraction is the market section where you can buy all sorts of goods—both cheap and luxury, genuine and imitation. Just be sure to pack your bartering skills, as price tags are definitely only a suggestion (if they can be found at all). It’s also a great place to grab some authentic חומוס (khummus), or “hummus,” and Arabic pastries, or to smoke a נרגילה (nargilah), or “hookah.”

Christian Quarter – הרובע הנוצרי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Notzri)

The Christian Quarter is home to about forty sites holy to Christians, and is therefore a destination for priests and pilgrims from across the globe. At its heart lies the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to be buried according to some traditions. The Via Dolorosa passes through the Christian Quarter, as well as the Armenian Quarter.

Armenian Quarter – הרובע הארמני (Ha-Rova’ ha-Armeni)

The smallest quarter, the Armenian Quarter, is full of surprises. As Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion, the Armenion Church long held a place of importance in Christendom, though its influence has waned with the years. This quarter is a peaceful collection of ancient churches. Be sure to check out St. Mark’s Chapel, the St. James Cathedral, and the Armenian Compound and its Armenian museum.

2. Mahane Yehuda Market – שוק מחנה יהודה (Shuk Makhaneh Yehudah)

Simply put, this is one of the greatest open markets on Earth. Part open and part roofed, the market offers an endless array of colors, smells, sounds, and, of course, tastes. Peruse the stalls of vegetable and fruit vendors half-singing, half-shouting at each other across the alleyway as they compete over who has the best or cheapest produce. Or stop for some exquisite coffee or delicious food in one of the many hole-in-the-wall cafés and restaurants tucked between and behind the carts of wares.

The Shuk is a great place to buy anything from food to hardware to souvenirs. Just be sure to shop around and check out the prices before you commit. And definitely try some of the local specialties, such as:

  • זיתים (zeytim) – “olives,” of which you’ll see more varieties than you would have thought possible
  • חלווה (khalvah) – a pastry made from tahini paste
  • בורקס (burekas) – baked pastries made of a thin flaky dough and filled with cheese, spinach, etc.

3. City of David – עיר דוד (‘Ir David)

One of Jerusalem’s most active archaeological sites, this is a must for any lover of history. The oldest part of Jerusalem, it was settled during the Canaanite period. According to the Bible, King David captured the city and brought the Ark of the Covenant there some 3,000 years ago. 

There have been excavations since the 1850s, so there’s always something interesting to see, including new finds. The site’s highlights include the ancient waterways that fed the city in times of old, the first palace built in the city, and even an ancient necropolis. Be sure to wear clothes and footwear you don’t mind getting wet. 

You can explore the above-ground portion of this site for free, but it’s well worth paying for admission to the underground portion, and even hiring a licensed guide to give you a tour.

4. Mt. of Olives – הר הזיתים (Har haZeitim)

This site is famous among both Jews and Christians for religious reasons; even the non-religious love this site for its stunning vistas of Jerusalem’s landscape. From the top, you can see the Old City and Temple Mount, as well as the surrounding Hinom Valley, or גיא בן הינום (Gai ben Hinom), and Judean Desert, or מדבר יהודה (Midbar Yehudah). 

Landmarks along the Mt. of Olives include several churches (such as the Lutheran Church of the Ascension and the Russian Orthodox church of the same name), as well as the Seven Arches Hotel. In addition, the Jewish Cemetery on the Mt. of Olives is the oldest and most important cemetery for Jews. Religious Jews believe that their bodies will be resurrected when the Messiah comes to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, it’s considered an honor to be buried close to where it’s believed this will take place.

5. Haram Al-Sharif – הר הבית (Har ha-Bayit), “Temple Mount”

Holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, this is the site where Abraham is said to have been ordered to offer his son up as a sacrifice to God. It’s also the spot where Solomon founded the Holy Temple, and the Prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to Heaven from here. 

The plaza, which many Jews consider taboo to enter, hovers above the Old City and is centered around the Dome of the Rock. It’s perhaps Jerusalem’s most iconic landmark. The southern side of the mount is home to one of the oldest mosques in the world: the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Note that while the plaza is open to people of all religious denominations, non-Muslim visitors are prohibited from entering the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as from praying anywhere on the site.

Highly Recommended Places for a Longer Trip (4-7 Days or Longer)

Dead Sea

If you have a bit more time to spend here, we would like to recommend a few additional things to visit in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Let’s have a look.

6. Israel Museum – מוזיאון ישראל (Muze’on Yisra’el)

This museum covers nearly 50,000 square meters and has a six-acre sculpture garden. It features all manner of collections, from prehistoric archaeology to contemporary art. There’s also a phenomenal variety of Judaica and Jewish arts from different Jewish communities across the world, and from different time periods. The museum’s children’s wing is its most interactive section, and there are special events and activities available for kids during Jewish holidays and school vacations.

7. Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem – גן החיות התנ”כי בירושלים על שם משפחת טיש (Gan ha-Khayot ha-Tanakhi be-Yerushalayim ‘al Shem Mishpakhat Tish)

Popularly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, this zoo is located in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood. Its most notorious feature is its Afro-Asiatic wildlife collection, which showcases many animals that were described in the Hebrew Bible. It has also had much success breeding endangered species. 

The zoo, much of which is designed in an open format, features animals and birds kept in their natural habitats, ranging from an African savannah to a tropical rainforest, and even to an underground world of mice and cockroaches. Each animal or bird mentioned in the Bible has a display showing the relevant Biblical verse in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

8. Yad Vashem – יד ושם, literally: “Hand and Name”

This museum is dedicated to the Holocaust, its victims, and its survivors; although visiting is definitely an intense experience, it commemorates an integral part of Israel’s story and the story of the Jewish people in general. 

Located on Mount Herzl, or הר הרצל (Har Hertzel), the memorial consists of a research institute in addition to other centers of education. You’ll also find the International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies as well as the widely visited Holocaust History Museum. The latter includes the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance, and the Museum of Holocaust Art.

9. Dead Sea – ים המלח (Yam ha-Melkah), “Salt Sea”

If you have the time, this is one of the best places to visit near Jerusalem for a fun day trip. The lowest point on Earth, the main attraction of the Dead Sea is its salty waters, whose salt concentration is 34%, ten times more than seawater. Typically, visitors enjoy floating effortlessly in the water, which is impossible to really swim in due to the salinity. Additionally, the mud from the bed and shore of the Dead Sea is considered the world over to do dermatological wonders. For this reason, mud baths, rubs, and massages are quite popular here.

10. Ein Gedi (עין גדי)

Another fantastic day trip is Ein Gedi, a reserve on the same route as that to the Dead Sea. This desert oasis features two parallel canyons, known as Wadi David (נחל דוד) and Wadi Arugot (נחל ערוגות), each one boasting stunning sights and hiking trails. These short walks go along streams that lead to year-round waterfalls and freshwater pools to take a dip in; you’ll also find yourself surrounded by surprisingly lush vegetation in the heart of the desert. The reserve is also populated by Nubian ibex and boulder-dwelling hyraxes, and it features the ruins of an ancient synagogue with a stunning fifth-century mosaic floor.

Bonus: Survival Hebrew for Your Trip

Swiss Army Knife

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most useful words and phrases to practice before your trip to Jerusalem (or even during your flight there!). Just like in any other country, knowing a few words—and even just the fact that you’ve made the effort—can go a long way with the locals, even if they speak English.

  1. שלום
    Shalom.
    “Hello.” / “Goodbye.” (literally: “Peace.”)
  1. תודה
    Todah.
    “Thanks.”
  1. להתראות
    Lehitra’ot.
    “See you later.”
  1. סליחה
    Slikha.
    “Sorry.”
  1. יופי
    Yofi.
    “Nice.” / “Great.”
  1. אני לא מבין/מבינה
    Ani lo mevin/mevinah.
    “I don’t understand.”
  1. איפה השירותים?
    Eyfoh ha-sherutim?
    “Where is the bathroom?”
  1. כמה זה עולה?
    Kamah zeh oleh?
    “How much does this cost?”
  1. אקח אותו!
    Ekakh oto!
    “I’ll take it!”
  1. הצילו!
    Hatzilu!
    “Help!”

Make the Most of Your Trip and Prepare in Advance with HebrewPod101

As I’m sure you can see, Jerusalem and Israel in general are fascinating places to explore, full of culture, history, and more. For such a small country, Israel contains quite a variety of sights, experiences, and even micro-climates. 

But why not make your trip even more meaningful by learning something about where you’re going and the people who live there? After all, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as traveling abroad and being able to communicate with the locals in their own language, especially if you also know something about their country and culture.

We at HebrewPod101 are dedicated to providing you with enriching materials that will not only help you learn Hebrew, but also get you acquainted with Israel, Israeli and Jewish culture, and anything else that can make your experience with the language and country more meaningful and interesting.

We hope you have a wonderful trip to Jerusalem! But before you book your flight, is there anything we missed? Feel free to get in touch and let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about Jerusalem, Israel as a whole, or the Hebrew language in general. Shalom!

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English Words in the Hebrew Language: Do You Speak Hebrish?

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Did you know that modern Hebrew is literally riddled with words borrowed from or inspired by English? While the modern age, globally interconnected as it is, has seen many languages absorb some words from English, the prevalence of English words in the Hebrew language may be considered a unique phenomenon. 

This is because Hebrew remained completely unspoken for almost two millennia, and thus did not evolve its lexicon naturally as other, continuously used languages did. When Jews finally did begin reviving Hebrew in the late nineteenth century, there was a vast void of missing vocabulary needed to describe all the trappings of modernity. Moreover, from 1917 until 1948, then-Palestine (what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories) was under British rule, making English a natural source to draw on in cases where Hebrew lacked a certain word or phrase.

In fact, there are numerous cases of Hebrew speakers opting for an English word even when there is a good Hebrew word for something!

The revival of Hebrew was initially a very conscious effort, led chiefly by master linguist and mad idealist Eliezer ben Yehuda. However, as Hebrew caught hold of more and more Zionist Jews as a spoken language, it inevitably began to take on a life of its own—especially following the births of the first generations of Jews to speak Hebrew as a first language. Naturally, as time progressed, modern Hebrew shifted away from the academic sphere to become the home turf of those who spoke it natively.

Ben Yehuda, as head of the academic camp reviving the language, founded ועד הלשון העברית (Va’ad ha-Lashon ha-’Ivrit), or “The Hebrew Language Committee” in 1890. He also started the first Hebrew dictionary to include both classical and modern Hebrew words. In coining new words, he would generally first attempt to draw on Hebrew roots, or שורשים (shorashim). However, where he failed to find a relevant root or where the result was awkward, he would turn to Aramaic or Arabic in search of a source word, due to their proximity to Hebrew—both are members of the Semitic language family. However, polyglot that he was, he also drew on various other languages, as well. This was despite fierce resistance from others involved in reviving the language, who vocally rejected any foreign influence on the language. Ben Yehuda was among a minority who seemed to recognize that linguistic interchange was not only a matter of course, but also nothing to be ashamed of in a place as linguistically diverse as Israel and for a people as culturally diverse as the Jews.

Regardless of academic attempts to keep Hebrew “pure,” once Hebrew sprouted its own wings as a spoken language, speakers naturally began importing loanwords into Hebrew from the other languages they spoke or read, as well as applying linguistic features from other languages to modify proper Hebrew words. Even the academics themselves seemingly could not resist this organic change toward expanding and refining the language with some help from abroad. In 1953, The Hebrew Language Committee changed its name to האקדמיה ללשון העברית (Ha-Akademiyah la-Lashon ha-’Ivrit), or “The Academy of the Hebrew Language.” This change swapped out the Hebrew ועד (va’ad), or “committee,” for אקדמיה (akademiyah), meaning “academy.” This word derives from the Greek Akadēmos, probably reaching Hebrew by way of English’s “academy” or perhaps French’s académie.

With the passage of time, a second wave of English influence swept over the Hebrew language, thanks to immigration, tourism, and business ties to Israel on the part of English speakers. In addition, English-language media such as movies, TV shows, music, and later the Internet, have all made their mark on the language, endowing it with a trove of lexical contributions in every sphere.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some examples of how English words have made their way into Hebrew and how they are used. And as a bonus, we’ll wrap up by taking a look at some English words whose Hebrew provenance may well surprise you. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. As-Is Loanwords
  2. Gendered Loanwords
  3. Hebrew Verbs Formed From English Words
  4. Some English-to-Hebrew Fails
  5. English Words Originating in Hebrew
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Make the Link Between Hebrew and English

As-Is Loanwords

The first category of common English words in Hebrew we’ll cover are the English loanwords you’re most likely to hear Hebrew speakers use in a similar fashion to their original English counterparts. Keep in mind that their application may not always be exactly the same in Hebrew as in English.

Handing Out Loan
  1. היי
    hay
    “hi”

This one is used just the same as it is in English. This is notwithstanding the fact that שלום (shalom) is the proper Hebrew greeting, and, in fact, can also be used as a farewell.

היי! מה שלומך?
Hay! Mah shlomekh?
Hi! How are you?”

  1. ביי
    bay
    “bye”

Once again, this is used the same in Hebrew as it is in English.

היה כיף לראות אותך. ביי!
Hayah keyf lir’ot otkha. Bay!
“It was good to see you. Bye!”

  1. קול
    kul
    “cool”

This one is pretty straightforward. Israelis often use this English word in the same slang sense as English speakers do. Here’s an example:

אתה טס לניו יורק? איזה קול!
Atah tas le-Nyu York? Eyzeh kul!
“You’re flying to New York? How cool!”

  1. פליז
    pliz
    please

This is an example of an English word that has an exact Hebrew semantic parallel but is used alternatively for emphasis.

אמא, בבקשה תני לי גלידה. פליז!
Imma, bevakashah tni li glidah. Pliz!
“Mom, please give me ice cream. Please!”

Please Sign with Hands
  1. סורי
    sori
    “sorry”

This is another case where a word that exists in Hebrew—סליחה (slikhah), meaning “sorry“—may be substituted by its English equivalent for emphasis.

שכחתי להביא לך את הכסף. סורי!
Shakhakhti lehavi lekha et ha-kesef. Sori!
“I forgot to bring you the money. Sorry!”

  1. טלפון
    telefon
    telephone

האם יש לך את מספר הטלפון של רם?
Ha’im yesh lekha et mispar ha-telefon shel Ram?
“Do you have Ram’s telephone number?”

Interestingly, it was Eliezer ben Yehuda who tried to introduce an alternative word for this device: שח-רחוק (sakh-rakhok), which is derived from the following words: 

  • שיחה (sikhah) – “conversation”
  • רחוק (rakhok) – “distant”

However, this coinage was ultimately rejected by the Hebrew Language Committee, and the more universal טלפון (telefon) is still in use today.

  1. אוטו
    oto
    automobile

While the truncated form of this word (combined with its Hebrew pronunciation) may throw you off, this everyday Hebrew word simply means “automobile.” It is used synonymously with the proper Hebrew word, מכונית (mekhonit).

איפה חנינו את האוטו?
Eyfoh khaninu et ha-oto?
“Where did we park the car?”

Car
  1. אינטרנט
    internet
    internet

Though the Academy of the Hebrew Language tried to get Israelis to use the Hebrew neologism מרשתת (mirshetet), formed from the word רשת (reshet), meaning “net,” Israelis still universally use this loanword from English.

האינטרנט כאן ממש איטי.
Ha-Internet kan mamash iti.
“The Internet here is really slow.”

  1. רדיו
    radyo
    “radio”

This one is the same in Hebrew as in English.

הגבר את הרדיו. אני רוצה לשמוע את החדשות.
Hagber et ha-radyo. Ani rotzah lishmo’a et ha-khadashot.
“Turn up the radio. I want to listen to the news.”

Radio
  1. ג’ינס
    jins
    “jeans”

Ever since James Dean and Marilyn Monroe made them hip, bluejeans have seemingly been in style the world over, and Israel is no exception.

קניתי ג’ינס חדש בקניון.
Kaniti jins khadash ba-kanyon.
“I bought new jeans at the mall.”

  1. פול
    ful
    “full” / “a lot of”

This one can have either the same meaning as in English or be used slightly differently to mean a lot of something. Again, this idea can be expressed in proper Hebrew, but English is often used instead, just to be קול (kul).

יש לי פול זמן מחר. בואו ניפגש.
Yesh li ful zman makhar. Bo’u nipagesh.
“I have a lot of time tomorrow. Let’s get together.”

  1. ווליום
    volyum
    “volume”

This one is another case of an English word that has a perfectly serviceable Hebrew equivalent (עוצמה [otzmah]), but is nevertheless often preferred by Israelis, often in conjunction with our previous example.

אני אוהב לשמוע מוסיקה בפול ווליום כשאני רץ.
Ani ohev lishmo’a musikah be-ful volyum ke-she-ani ratz.
“I like to listen to music at full volume when I run.”

  1. ספיישל
    speshel
    “special”

This word is used in a way that linguists called “narrowing.” That is to say, Hebrew does not employ it to describe just anything special—the word for which is מיוחד (meyukhad)—but is rather used in specific cases, particularly in reference to a special media event or to describe taxis pre-hired to go from a given point of departure to a given destination (as opposed to a taxi flagged down as it circulates).

אנחנו נוסעים לשדה התעופה הלילה במונית ספיישל.
Anakhnu nos’im li-sdeh ha-te’ufah halaylah be-monit speshel.
“We’re headed to the airport tonight in a special taxi.”

Taxi
  1. פופקורן
    popkoren
    “popcorn”

This one is a bit funny-sounding to the English ear in its Hebrew iteration. Perhaps due to the relatively common Hebrew last name Koren, Israelis have inserted an extra vowel between the final R and N.

בא לכם פופקורן עם הסרט?
Ba lakhem popkoren ‘im ha-seret?
“Do you want popcorn with the movie?”

  1. קורס
    kurs
    “course”

This one is pretty straightforward. As in English, this is used to refer to any sort of training or shorter educational undertaking.

אני רוצה לעשות קורס צניחה חופשית בסוף השבוע.
Ani rotzeh la’asot kurs tznikhah khofshit be-sof ha-shavu’ah.
“I want to take a skydiving course this weekend.”

  1. פרויקט
    proyect
    “project”

This one is almost as-is, but it does have a modified pronunciation in Hebrew.

פרויקט העירייה החדש עלה פי שלוש מהמתכונן.
Proyekt ha-’iriyah he-khadash ‘alah pi shalosh me-ha-metukhnan.
“The municipality’s new project cost three times as much as planned.”

  1. פינישים
    finishim
    “finishing/fine touches”

This is another case of narrowing. This word is not used to say “finish”—the Hebrew word for which is either לגמור (ligmor) or לסיים (lesayem)—but specifically to refer to the fine last details in a task, work of art, etc. It’s most often used in modified form to bear the Hebrew masculine plural form (ending in -ים [-im]).

חסרים רק כמה פינישים אחרונים ואני כבר מסיים את הפרויקט.
Khaserim rak kamah finishim akharonim va-ani kvar mesayem et ha-proyect.
“I have a few finishing touches left before I can complete the project.”

  1. טנק
    tank
    “tank”

This one is an important importation from English, as Israel’s armored corps is world-famous for its military prowess. 

בצבא הייתי מפקד טנק.
Ba-tzavah hayiti mefaked tank.
“In the military, I was a tank commander.”

Tank

Gendered Loanwords

Unlike English, Hebrew is a gendered language. This means that all nouns and adjectives are either masculine or feminine. Let’s look at some cases where English words in the Hebrew language get hebracized when describing the feminine versus the masculine.

  1. ברמן
    barmen
    “bartender”

This one is taken from British English, in which barmen tend bar at pubs (versus North American English, in which bartenders tend bar at bars). Aside from the fact that this gets gendered to describe a female bartender, note that Israelis also pronounce the male singular form as if it were the plural in English.

דן הוא ברמן. גם דנה היא ברמנית.
Dan hu barmen. Gam Danah hi barmenit.
“Dan is a bartender. Dana is a bartender too.”

Bartender
  1. סנוב
    snob
    “snob”

This is another English loanword that gets gendered when describing a female.

שלמה הוא ממש סנוב. חברה שלו, יונית, היא סנובית אפילו יותר גרועה.
Shlomoh hu mamash snob. Khaverah shelo, Yonit, hi snobit afilu yoter geru’ah.
“Shlomo is a real snob. His girlfriend, Yonit, is an even worse snob.”

  1. מניאק
    maniyak
    “maniac”

This one means much the same thing in Hebrew as it does in English.

אל תהיה מניאק כמו אחותך המניאקית.
Al tihiyeh maniyak k’mo akhotkha ha-maniyakit.
“Don’t be a maniac like your maniac sister.”

Crazy Looking Man
  1. די-ג’יי
    di-jay
    “DJ”

This term, as well, means precisely the same thing in Hebrew as it does in English.

רון הוא די-ג’יי מצויין ואשתו, שרה, היא די-ג’ייאית אפילו יותר טובה.
Ron hu di-jey metzuyan ve-’ishto, Sarah, hi di-jayit afilu yoter tovah.
“Ron is a great DJ, and his wife, Sarah, is an even better DJ.

DJ at Club

Hebrew Verbs Formed From English Words

Because of its root system, Hebrew has great flexibility in the formation of new words. In some cases, Hebrew takes English words and turns them into fully functional, conjugatable Hebrew verbs. Because of the rules of ניקוד (nikkud), or “diacritical marks,” this often produces some funny-sounding results to the English ear. Here are some examples.

  1. לבלף
    lebalef
    “to bluff”

אני כבר רואה שאתה מבלף. שכחת את יום ההולדת שלי לגמרי!
Ani kvar ro’ah she-atah mevalef. Shakhakta et yom ha-huledet sheli legamrey!
“I can already see that you’re bluffing. You completely forgot my birthday!”

Poker Game
  1. למקסם
    lemaksem
    “to maximize”

כל הכבוד! מיקסמנו את המכירות שלנו ברבעון האחרון!
Kol ha-kavod! Miksamnu et ha-mekhirot shelanu ba-riv’on ha-akharon!
“Way to go! We maximized our sales in the last quarter!”

  1. לפמפם
    lepampem
    “to pump”

זה אוטו ישן. פימפמת את הבלמים?
Zeh oto yashan. Pimpamta et ha-b’lamim?
“This is an old car. Did you pump the brakes?”

  1. לדסקס
    ledaskes
    “to discuss”

בוא נדסקס את זה ביום ראשון אצלי במשרד.
Bo nedaskes et zeh be-Yom Rishon etzli ba-misrad.
“Let’s discuss it Sunday in my office.”

Women Having Discussion at Work
  1. לדקלם
    ledaklem
    “to declaim” / “to recite”

בני בן השנתיים כבר יודע לדקלם את אותיות האל”ף-בי”ת.
B’ni ben ha-shnatayim kvar yode’a ledaklem et otiyot ha-alef-beyt.
“My two-year-old son can already recite the letters of the alphabet.”

Some English-to-Hebrew Fails

A final category of loanwords that will hopefully bring a smile to your lips (as you practice pronouncing them) are Hebrew words that originated in English but went through some distortion, or even corruption, during their entry into Hebrew. 

  1. פנצ’ר
    pancher
    “puncture” / “flat tire”

This one would make sense to the English ear if the pronunciation weren’t so different from the original. Note that ‘puncture’ is the more common British way of referring to what North Americans usually call a ‘flat tire.’

אני חייב למצוא מוסך תיכף מיד. יש לי פנצ’ר.
Ani khayav limtzo musakh tekhef u-miyad. Yesh li pancher.
“I need to find a garage right away. I have a flat tire.”

Flat Tire
  1. אינסטלטור
    instelator
    “plumber”

One can only assume that whoever coined this word had the English verb “install” in mind, and figured that an ‘instelator would be the person installing a sink or toilet tank. Though a proper Hebrew word for “plumber” does exist—שרברב (shravrav)—this Hebrish word is far more common in Israel today.

יש לך מספר של איזה אינסטלטור? כל הבית שלי מוצף!
Yesh lekha mispar shel eyzeh ‘instelator? Kol ha-bayit sheli mutzaf!
“Do you have the number of a plumber? My whole house is flooded!”

Plumber
  1. סנפלינג
    snepling
    “rappelling”

This is the product of another linguistic mixup. Someone must have heard the term “snap link” while rock climbing, and, confusing the “ink” for an “-ing” suffix, coined this word. Today, Israelis (including in the military!) use this word to refer to rappelling.

למדתי לעשות סנפלינג כחלק מקורס מצילים בצבא.
Lamadti la’asot snepling ke-khelek mi-kurs metzilim ba-tzava.
“I learned rappelling as part of a rescuers course in the army.”

  1. טוקבקים
    tokbekim
    “feedback”

This one comes from the TalkBack Reader Response System, one of the first online systems to allow users to post feedback on a website. Between the linguistic “widening” (the opposite of narrowing) of TalkBack and its funny pronunciation, this one is likely to baffle the uninitiated English speaker.

ראית את מה שהוא כתב בטוקבקים על המאמר על הנשיא?
Ra’it et mah she-hu katav ba-tokbekim ‘al ha-ma’amar ‘al ha-nasi?
“Did you see what he wrote in the feedback on that article on the president?”

  1. לעשות פן
    la’asot fen
    “to blow-dry”

This one presumably derives from the English word “fan,” which a hairdryer certainly contains. By the logic of this phrase, blow-drying or straightening one’s hair is literally “to do the fan.”

עשיתי פן לפני המסיבה כי היו לי קרזולים.
Asiti fen lifney ha-mesibah ki hayu li kirzulim.
“I blow-dried my hair before the party because I had frizz.”

Blow Drying Hair
  1. מסטינג
    mesting
    “mess kit”

This one is a distortion of the English word “mess tin,” which traditionally was a standard-issue set of utensils for soldiers to carry in their kit, which was originally made of tin. As in the case of סנפלינג (snepling), it’s likely that the Hebrew ear misheard the final “in” as an “-ing” suffix.

אכלנו מאותו המסטינג.
Akhalnu me-oto ha-mesting.
“We ate from the same mess kit.”

(This is a common way of saying that people were brothers in arms during their military service, or that they grew up together.)

  1. סוודר
    sveder
    “sweater”

This is another commonly used Hebrish word that, due to the pronunciation, might give English speakers pause.

קר בחוץ. אשים לי סוודר.
Kar ba-khutz. Asim li sveder.
“It’s cold outside. I’m going to put on a sweater.”

Sweatshirt
  1. פאקים
    fakim
    “mistakes” / “problems” / “kinks”

If you listen carefully enough and scratch your head a bit, you may be surprised at the English word this one is based on, particularly as it’s used commonly enough in Hebrew without being considered offensive!

יש לנו עוד כמה פאקים לסדר בתוכנית השנתית.
Yesh lanu ‘od kamah fakim lesader ba-tokhnit ha-shnatit.
“We have a few more kinks to iron out in the annual plan.”

English Words Originating in Hebrew

Did you know there are also a few English words with Hebrew roots? While Hebrew pales in its contribution to the English language when compared to Latin, Greek, or French, it has nevertheless registered a few key entries—some of which you may never have imagined were based in Hebrew. The vast majority of these words, it should be noted, come from Biblical rather than modern Hebrew

  1. behemoth

This word comes from the Hebrew word בהמות (behemot), meaning “beasts.” In English, the word is typically used to describe something of large proportions, if not necessarily a living creature.

  1. Sabbath

This word comes from the Hebrew word שבת (Shabbat), which originally referred to the seventh day of creation in the Genesis story. God is described as having rested from his work of creating the Universe on this day. לשבות (lishbot), the verb related to this word, means “to rest” or “to desist.”

Sabbath Challah Bread
  1. Sabbatical

This word also comes from לשבות (lishbot). In English, it refers to a professional leave of absence, typically every few years.

  1. amen

From אמן (amen), meaning “verily,” this is used in Hebrew the same way as it is in English, as an affirmation of beliefs or hopes.

People Praying at Church
  1. hallelujah

In a similar vein, this comes from the Hebrew הללויה (haleluyah), meaning “praise the Lord.”

  1. cider

This word derives from the Biblical word שכר (shekhar), which referred to some type of fermented alcoholic drink, although scholars are unsure precisely how it was prepared. It’s ironic to note that Israelis today call the beverage cider, or סיידר (sayder)!

  1. jubilee

Jubilee is based on the word יובל (Yovel), referring to the Biblical practice according to which slaves were freed and lands returned to their original owners every fifty years. As this was a time of great celebration, the loanword in English came to mean “celebration.”

  1. Leviathan

The לביתן (Livyatan) is described in Genesis as one of the great sea creatures God made during the creation of the Universe. In English, it can refer to this same creature, to a large sea vessel, or to anything immense.

  1. messiah

This word comes from the Hebrew word משיח (mashi’akh), meaning “anointed.” In Biblical times, it was common practice to anoint kings with oil upon their coronation.

  1. rabbi

This word comes from the Hebrew word רב (rav), meaning “great” as well as “master.” It refers to Jewish religious leaders and teachers.

  1. macabre

This is derived from the Hebrew word מכבים (Makabim), or “Maccabees,” the heroes of the Hanukkah story. In the Middle Ages, morality plays typically featured a Chorea Maccabaeorum, or Dance of the Maccabees, probably representing the slaughter of the Maccabees. In French, this was known as the danse macabre, which evolved in English into the Dance Macabre or “Dance of Death,” eventually giving us the word ‘macabre.’

  1. schwa

This word is more likely to be familiar to linguists and language teachers. Used to refer to an unstressed vowel, it originates from the Hebrew diacritical mark שווא (shva), which denotes the same phoneme in Hebrew.

  1. seraph

This is an angelic being the Bible refers to as שרף (saraf). The English adjective “seraphic” can be used to describe great beauty.

  1. cherub

This is another angelic being referred to in the Bible, called כרוב (kruv) in Hebrew. The adjective “cherubic” is used in English to describe childlike or pristine beauty.

Scene with Angels
  1. shibboleth

This English term refers to a word, saying, practice, custom, or any other shared feature that distinguishes one group from another. It comes from the Hebrew word שיבולת (shibolet), meaning “ear of corn,” which was used by the Gileadites in the Bible as a password to identify one another. This worked because their enemy, the Ephraimites, apparently pronounced the phoneme ש (/ʃ/) as ס (/s/).

Let HebrewPod101 Help You Make the Link Between Hebrew and English

We hope you found today’s lesson interesting and informative. As you can see, Hebrew and English may not be quite as distant from one another as they first seem. In any event, we at HebrewPod101.com strive to bridge the gap so that you can learn Hebrew with clear Hebrew-language examples alongside helpful and interesting English-language explanations.

Are there any Hebrish words you’ve encountered that we didn’t cover? Any English words borrowed from Hebrew that we forgot to mention? We’re always happy to hear from our readers and students, so please get in touch with your feedback!

Until next time, bye…I mean, shalom!

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An Overview of Jewish and Israeli Culture

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Jewish culture is among the oldest in the world. Whether you’re learning Hebrew for business, planning to visit Israel for pleasure, or just want to gain a better understanding of a culture that has been around for millennia, HebrewPod101 has you covered.

To begin, let’s clarify some confusion between terms. “Hebrew,” “Israeli,” and “Jewish” are sometimes used synonymously, but they do, in fact, have distinct meanings. 

Hebrew culture refers to the culture pertaining to speakers of the Hebrew language, which is documented as having been in use by the Israelite tribes who settled in Israel—Canaan at the time—from between at least the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE. The terms Jew and Jewish, on the other hand, originate with the split of the United Monarchy of Israel into the southern Kingdom of Judah and the northern Kingdom of Israel. This split is dated to have occurred between the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE. To make things even more complicated, the term Israelite refers to a Biblical descendant of Israel (the name given to Jacob later in his life), whereas Israeli is the demonym of citizens of the modern State of Israel. 

For the purposes of this article, we will use “Jewish” to refer to the culture of all modern descendants of the Biblical Israelites, and “Israeli” to refer specifically to those living in (or originally from) the State of Israel.

Much of Israeli culture is Jewish, but not all Jewish culture is Israeli. Because of the history of the Jewish people, marked as it is by some two millennia of Diaspora (or Jewish communities living outside of Israel) and the many migrations Jews have made from one place to another over the years, Jewish culture is an amalgam of unique customs, traditions, and values. Many of these have been influenced by the numerous host cultures among which Jews have lived (and still live). To put it simply, while a Jew from one part of the world will always find much in common with a Jew from any other part of the world, they are just as likely to find significant cultural differences as well.

For example, a Jew from France and a Jew from Hungary may both pray in Hebrew, but the French Jew would most likely speak French as his native language and the Hungarian Jew would speak Hungarian. And though they would both celebrate the same Jewish holidays, they would almost certainly set the table with different traditional dishes, at least in part. Similarly, while their family and community values would have much in common, their musical and artistic traditions and tastes would probably be distinct. If the two were then to get together with an Israeli friend, they would note yet further distinctions among themselves. For example, while they all might identify as members of the Hebrew race, the Israeli would probably be the only one of them fluent, or at least native, in the Hebrew language.

To better understand the richness and complexity of Jewish and Israeli culture, let’s take a look at some of the different aspects of Jewish culture among both Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Religious and Philosophical Views
  3. Family and Work
  4. Judaism and the Arts
  5. Food Traditions
  6. Jewish Holidays
  7. Continue Exploring the Hebrew Language and Culture with HebrewPod101!

1. Values and Beliefs

Three People with Though Bubble

Jewish values are fundamental to Jewish culture. Indeed, Judaism is very much centered around values-based education and has been concerned with such issues as honesty, honor, and social justice ever since its inception as documented by the Bible. It is important to note here that Judaism is both a religion and a culture. At least in modern times, not all people who identify as Jewish are necessarily religious. For instance, a 2015 Gallup poll found that only 30% of Israeli Jews considered themselves religious, while a full 65% identified as either “not religious” or “convinced atheists.” Nevertheless, just as the Golden Rule is part of many people’s culture the world over, even if they are not affiliated religiously, many Jewish values find expression even among secular Jews. This topic could take up volumes—indeed, it has—but for today, we will focus on the more general aspects of Jewish values and beliefs.

Judaism, for one thing, features an interesting mix of individualism and collectivism. The Hebrew Bible, for instance, begins with the Creation story, according to which all of humanity originated with the first man, Adam. This is often understood as emphasizing that every human life is worth an entire world. On the other hand, Jewish values are greatly centered on the importance of family and community, stressing not only one’s obligations toward the collective but also the happiness and health one derives through connectedness to others.

Looking specifically at Israeli culture and customs, we can see the added elements of solidarity and teamwork that result from obligatory military service, for both men and women, in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This experience—לעלות על מדים (la’alot ‘al madim), meaning “to put on a uniform”—has a huge impact on Israelis’ sense of self within the community. Imagine: Just at your prime, right after you’ve finished high school and should be ready to make your own way in the world, you’re placed into service of the collective. This experience can lend a feeling of greater investment in your country, since you have served it and thus feel it is truly your home. (Although in some cases, it can also make people feel they have had enough of the political issues behind the military reality.)

Now let us talk about another key topic here: the relationship between Jewish culture and education. Elementary school education in Jewish culture dates all the way back to the year 75 BCE, and was very possibly in existence prior to that year. This is really no surprise, as in order to be a practicing religious Jew, one must be educated in various subjects, including literacy. The Talmud, the main corpus of Jewish law, mentions, for instance, that children should begin school at age six and specifies the ages at which they should be ready to learn different elements of Jewish law. Additionally, Judaism has long viewed the תלמיד חכם (talmid khakham), or “wise student,” as the model member of society, and the list of Jewish heroes is replete with scholars and sages. In continuation of this heritage, it is interesting to note that Israel is tied with Japan as the country with the second highest percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds with college education.

The immigrant experience is another element at the crux of Jewish cultural identity. Some scholars argue that the very name “Hebrew,” or עברי (‘Ivri), related to the verb לעבור (la’avor), meaning “to cross,” refers to being other or coming from elsewhere. Abraham, the first עברי, is described in the Bible as having crossed into Canaan from the other side of the Jordan River. Even today, Jews do not have to trace their lineage very far back to reach a generation of immigrants. Israel itself is a country of mass immigration, as Jews only began returning to what was then Palestine (now the State of Israel) in any significant numbers in the late nineteenth century. Interestingly, the מצוה (mitzvah), or “commandment,” most often mentioned in the Bible is the injunction to treat the stranger or foreigner with kindness. Moreover, the most important story in terms of Jewish nationhood is probably that of the Exodus, which describes the foreign Israelites’ bondage in Egypt as well as their salvation and subsequent migration to Canaan (later to become Israel), becoming a people united in the Torah on the way.


2. Religious and Philosophical Views

Western Wall in Jerusalem

Jewish culture is, of course, largely based on Jewish religious precepts. That said, there are many secular influences to be found within it as well. 

The basis of Judaism as a religion are the commandments and traditions found in the Hebrew Bible, which is called תנ”ך (Tana”kh) in Hebrew. This is an acronym for תורה, נביאים וכתובים (Torah, Nevi’im u-K’tuvim), meaning “Torah, Prophets, and Writings.” The written law and traditions found in the Bible are accompanied by oral traditions believed to date back to Moses at Sinai. These oral traditions were eventually codified and interpreted in written form, beginning around the year 200 CE, being compiled into what is now the Talmud. For religious Jews, there are a full 613 commandments, in addition to many other customs that can vary from community to community.

The basic tenets of the Jewish religious faith attest that there is one God (monotheism) and that God formed a covenant with Abraham long ago, promising him he would be the founding father of a blessed nation if he and his descendants stayed faithful to God. This promise was later repeated and refined with the covenant at Mt. Sinai, in which God, having freed the Israelites (Abraham’s descendants) from slavery in Egypt, presented them the Torah and invoked them to follow its commandments. In reward, God would grant them divine blessings and protection.

Some of the unifying principles that thread through the commandments include: 

  • The Golden Rule 
    • Love one’s neighbor as oneself.
  • תיקון עולם (Tikkun ‘Olam) “Repairing the World” 
    • Jews must work as God’s agents to improve a broken world through justice and good deeds.
  • קדושה (K’dushah) “Sanctification” 
    • This is the notion of elevating certain acts, items, relationships, and moments to holiness through conscious intent and ceremony. One such example is keeping the שבת (Shabbat), or “Sabbath,” holy and separate from the work week.

The last one is a well-known part of the עשרת הדברות (‘Aseret ha-Dibrot), or Ten Commandments, which also include injunctions to honor one’s parents and prohibitions against murder, adultery, and theft. It is also a commandment to strive to be happy always—one we should probably all try to follow!

Jewish culture, until relatively recently, was essentially religious in nature. It was not until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that Jews could comfortably explore a Jewish identity or philosophy not rooted in religion. Thanks to the influence of Enlightenment and Modernist thinking, Jews slowly but surely crystallized various forms of cultural and secular—as opposed to religious—Judaism. Many great thinkers, works of literature, and even entire artistic, political, and social movements stemmed from the secularization of Judaism. One of the most noteworthy cases is Theodore Herzl’s founding of Zionism. A secular Jew from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he essentially gave rise to a secular Jewish nationalism rooted in the notion of Jewish self-determination and national independence, involving their at least partial return to their historic national home in Israel.

Another way in which non-religious (and even anti-religious) ideologies influenced Jewish culture, Zionism in time became increasingly more socialist in nature. In fact, many of the early Zionists who immigrated to Israel established collective settlements or communes known as מושבים (moshavim) and קיבוצים (kibbutzim), a testament to the influence of socialism in Zionist ideology. In addition, from the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 all the way through 1977, all of the country’s prime ministers were affiliated with the leftist Labor Party (in Hebrew, מפלגת העבודה [Mifleget ha-’Avodah]).

In sum, there is no one Jewish philosophy or ideology. In 2020, Jews in both Israel and elsewhere in the world represent quite an impressive gallimaufry of views and philosophies: religious and secular, left- and right-leaning, pro-Israel, and even anti-Zionist. 

3. Family and Work

Family in Bed

Family is definitely the social nucleus of Jewish culture. In fact, even in religious circles where synagogue attendance is part of daily life, many of the most important parts of Jewish life occur at home rather than in public. This is true to some extent with secular but traditional Jews, as well.

Depending on the particular Jewish community, families can be more patriarchal or egalitarian, but in either case, both paternal and maternal roles are given great importance. Children are also extremely important in Jewish culture, viewed as the assurance of Judaism’s future and thus greatly valued and invested in. For example, Judaism celebrates a child’s coming of age through the celebration of a בר מצוה (Bar Mitzvah) for boys and a בת מצוה (Bat Mitzvah) for girls. Children, conversely, are expected to honor their parents as instructed in the Ten Commandments.

One of the main ways that families spend time together and get to know one another is through sharing meals on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. The Sabbath is a day of rest for religious families, so no work is done. This leaves a lot of quality time to spend together talking, singing, playing games, or going for walks. In secular families, the Sabbath may be a day for bike rides in the park or seeing a movie with family and friends. The same is generally true for Jewish holidays.

Man Looking at Work Schedule

You can also find reflections of Jewish culture in business spheres and work environments. Jewish culture fosters a very strong work ethic, perhaps due in large part to the millennia of immigration that required Jews to be hard-working and flexible in order to survive—and certainly to thrive as they have. In the case of Israel, as the country was quite literally built up from swamps in modern times by חלוצים (khalutzim), or “pioneers,” there are some big shoes to fill in doing justice for their hard labor. 

In any case, Israel follows a six-day work week and is characterized by a highly productive and competitive workforce, especially in light of the high percentage of well-educated and qualified workers. In general, Jews have been found to be the best-educated religious group the world over, most receiving around 13.4 years of formal schooling and a majority pursuing university degrees. Israel, in particular, has been dubbed the Startup Nation due to its staggering number of entrepreneurs.

4. Judaism and the Arts

Judaism’s relationship with art is twofold. On the one hand, Judaism has maintained its own artistic aesthetics for millennia (generally referred to as Judaica in the visual arts), and has produced its own distinct musical culture mainly for prayer and other religious applications. On the other hand, a highly disproportionate number of Jews have participated and continue to participate in the arts.

Library

First of all, Jews have always been known as a literary people. In fact, they have been known from Biblical times onward as עם הספר (‘Am ha-Sefer), or “People of the Book.” Apart from the huge contribution to Western culture that the Hebrew Scriptures represent, Jews have also given the world many other important works. Examples of such Jewish literature include the corpus of mystical-philosophic texts referred to as קבלה (Kabbalah) and Maimonides’ humanistic Guide to the Perplexed in centuries past. More modern Jewish authors include Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Ayn Rand, Allen Ginsburg, and Philip Roth. Modern Israel has also made its own unique contribution to world literature through luminaries such as Chaim Nahman Bialik and S. Y. Agnon.

Art Objects

In terms of Jewish art, Judaica typically serves a double function, being both aesthetic and functional in the performance of various Jewish rituals. For instance, it is common to find silver candlesticks on daily display in Jewish homes, though they are used for lighting the candles on Friday eve or on the eve of holidays. Another example is the ornate מזוזה (mezuzah), a cylinder containing scroll with a portion of the Torah. This is typically found mounted on the door frame in the entrance to Jewish homes. Other common Judaica items are: 

  • חנוכיות (khanukiyot) – “Hanukkah menorahs” 
  • Decorative plates for the symbolic items that get served during the Passover Seder
  • Illustrated marriage contracts known as כתובות (ketubot)

Apart from Judaica, Jews have made an immense contribution to the visual arts in modern times. Some of the more famous examples of this include Camille Pissarro, Amedeo Modigliani, and Marc Chagall. There have also been a number of noteworthy Jewish photographers, such as André Kértesz, Annie Leibovitz, and Alfred Eisenstaedt. And, of course, in the genre of filmmaking, the list of prominent Jewish cinema stars is virtually endless. Some of the more famous names include directors Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski, and Steven Spielberg, and actors Dustin Hoffman, Richard Dreyfuss, James Caan, Lauren Bacall, Natalie Portman, and Gal Gadot.

Harp

Music is another art of great importance to Jewish ritual, such as in sung prayers and in the cantillation system for chanting the Torah. There is also a great deal of traditional Jewish music that revolves around weddings and other celebrations, such as the klezmer music of Eastern Europe and the Ladino music of the Iberian Peninsula, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin. 

Jews have also contributed immensely to many different music genres outside of the strictly Jewish aesthetic. In classical music, names such as Felix Mendelssohn, Joseph Joachim, Arthur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz, and Leonard Bernstein are but a few on the seemingly infinite list of famous Jewish classical musicians. In the world of popular music, George Gershwin, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Benny Goodman, and David Lee Roth are but a handful of famous and influential Jewish figures.

Modern Israel has its own vibrant and diverse music scene, taking elements from both traditional Jewish music from the many countries of its immigrants, as well as from Arabic, Western, and other non-Jewish sources. For instance, there is a strong industry of מוזיקה מזרחית (muzikah mizrakhit), or “Eastern music,” based on the quarter-tone-infused strains of musical cultures from countries like Yemen, Morocco, and Iraq. 

There is likewise an ever-growing Hebrew-language mainstream music industry. Its music sounds similar to rock, pop, and other international musical styles, but in Hebrew and tinged with the Mediterranean sun. Israeli artists have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 42 times (winning four times), and a number of Israeli artists—such as David Broza, Yael Naim, and Balkan Beat Box—have done crossover work in English (and to a lesser extent, in other languages).

5. Food Traditions

Challah Bread

There is a Yiddish saying according to which the home is like a body, and the kitchen is its heart. 

In Jewish culture, food is an absolutely vital part of both daily life and special occasions, with its unique ability to both nourish and signify. Typical Jewish foods include braided loaves of חלה (khallah), or “challah bread,” served at Shabbat and matzah ball soup. The latter is famous for using the unleavened Passover bread, מצה (matzah), to make dumplings that can either sink or float depending on the chef. There is also babka, a yeasted sweet bread.

Culinary traditions are one aspect in which Jewish communities differ from one another. This is largely because local dishes traditionally depended on the availability of ingredients, though influences from local non-Jewish cuisine have also played a role. For example, Hungarian Jews are likely to have a grandmother famous for making csirke paprikas, or chicken with paprika (holding back the sour cream, which non-Jewish Hungarians would almost invariably add, so as to keep it kosher), whereas a French Jewish cook might serve chopped liver or papeton d’aubergines, an eggplant gratin.

Shakshukah

In Israel, all of these different culinary cultures meet and mix. This means there are both remnants of (more or less) authentic regional traditions from the many mother countries from whence Jews immigrated to Israel, as well as fusion cuisine influenced by places as distant from each other as Bulgaria, Morocco, and Poland. One thing you can be sure of is that if you visit a Jewish home, no matter the geographical origins of its inhabitants, someone should be asking you pretty soon if you’re hungry!

6. Jewish Holidays

Jewish Holiday Items

There are many Jewish holidays throughout the year, each with its own distinct flavor. Apart from the Sabbath, which is observed every week from Friday night to Saturday night, there are major and minor חגים (khagim), or “holidays.” There are also several fast days and numerous modern Israeli holidays instituted since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Note that Judaism uses a lunar calendar, so the Gregorian dates of Jewish holidays will vary from year to year. The main Jewish holidays are as follows:

  1. ראש השנה
    Rosh ha-Shanah
    “New Year” (literally: “Head of the Year”)

This is the Jewish New Year, which falls somewhere between September and October. It celebrates the creation of the universe as recounted in Genesis.

  1. יום כיפור
    Yom Kippur
    “Day of Atonement”

This is the holiest day of the year, coming nine days after the New Year. It commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is a fast day and, at least for religious Jews, a day of solemn prayer and reflection on which they ask God for forgiveness for their sins of the previous year.

  1. סוכות
    Sukkot
    “Feast of Booths”

This holiday falls around September-October and lasts a week. It commemorates the Israelites’ forty-year voyage from Egypt to Canaan as recounted in Exodus, as well as their itinerant lifestyle during this time. The holiday is celebrated by building a makeshift outdoor home similar to a shack, though they can get pretty fancy. Religious Jews live in these shacks for the entire week, eating, talking, and even sleeping in them. Sukkot ends with שמחת תורה (Simkhat Torah), or “Rejoicing with the Torah,” which is a joyous celebration marking the end of the Torah’s annual reading cycle and the beginning of a new one.

  1. חנוכה
    Khanukkah
    “Hanukkah”

This is the Festival of Lights, celebrating the victory of the Jewish Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire in the second century BCE. Falling more or less around Christmastime, it is a joyous holiday in which special candelabras are lit for eight nights in a row, parties are held, and gifts are typically exchanged.

  1. פורים
    Purim
    “Purim”

Celebrating the Jews’ narrow escape from annihilation at the hand of the Persian Empire, thanks to the intervention of the Jewish heroine Queen Esther, this holiday is celebrated with costume parties and the exchange of gift baskets brimming with food and drink. It falls sometime around March.

  1. פסח
    Pesakh
    “Passover”

This holiday, lasting a week and falling near Easter, celebrates the Exodus story. Its highlight is an elaborate and symbol-laden meal called the סדר (Seder), literally meaning “Order.” It tells the story of slavery and liberation using numerous foods and rituals to recount the different elements of the tale. Religious Jews eat only an unleavened bread called מצה (matzah) for the entire week, abstaining from other flour-based foods.

  1. שבועות
    Shavu’ot
    “Feast of Weeks”

Falling seven weeks after the beginning of Passover, this holiday continues the Exodus story, this time commemorating the Israelites’ reception of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is customary to eat dairy foods, such as blintzes and cheesecake, on this holiday.

  1. יום השואה
    Yom ha-Sho’ah
    “Holocaust Remembrance Day”

This solemn day, usually falling in April, commemorates the millions of victims murdered in an attempted genocide during the Holocaust, as well as the heroism of those who lost their lives fighting against Nazism and Facism in the resistance movements.

  1. יום הזיכרון
    Yom ha-Zikaron
    “Memorial Day”

This day commemorates those who fell in military service defending the State of Israel, as well as those murdered by terrorist acts.

  1. יום העצמאות
    Yom ha-’Atzma’ut
    “Independence Day”

The day after Memorial Day, this is Israel’s celebration of its independence as a modern state, declared in 1948. It is celebrated with grand firework displays, barbecues, and other festive get-togethers, in addition to military parades and displays.

7. Continue Exploring the Hebrew Language and Culture with HebrewPod101!

We hope you found this lesson interesting and informative. There is no better way to master a language than through immersion, which includes an understanding of the culture surrounding and underpinning the language. In the case of Judaism, the language and culture are inextricably woven together. And in view of the fact that Israel is the one and only Jewish state in the world, it is a great idea to learn about that culture if you are planning to visit. This will make your time that much more interesting, enjoyable, and meaningful.

Are there any aspects of Jewish or Israeli culture you’d like to know about that we didn’t cover here? Is there anything you’d like to know more about? We’re always happy to receive your feedback, as it’s our goal to always provide you with interesting and engaging lessons that speak to your needs and interests. We look forward to hearing from you. 

For now, shalom!

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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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A Concise Hebrew Grammar Guide

Thumbnail

British linguist David Wilkins once said of language, “Without grammar, little can be conveyed; without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed.” 

This captures succinctly the fact that, while it is essential to have sufficient knowledge of a language’s vocabulary in order to describe and express what we wish, we won’t get very far using individual words without knowing how to organize them in logical ways. This logic is dictated by a language’s grammar.

As we look now at Hebrew grammar, you should know that it’s particularly logical and orderly. For example, the most common way to express that everything is okay in Hebrew is to say, הכל בסדר (hakol be-seder), or “everything is in order.” 

A useful Hebrew language grammar guide must take into account that Hebrew is both synthetic, meaning it changes words’ meanings or relationships to other words by adding prefixes and suffixes (and, in Hebrew’s case, also by changing vowels), as well as analytic, meaning it uses helping words to indicate meaning and relationship.

A good command of Hebrew also requires proficiency in using grammatical gender and number correctly, as nouns, verbs, and adjectives are all gendered and must agree in terms of number. This can be particularly tricky for English speakers, who are lucky enough to not have to worry about grammatical gender, except in cases of biological gender (i.e. boy vs. girl or chicken vs. rooster). 

A final prominent grammatical feature of Hebrew is the fact that its word order is sometimes—but not always—parallel to that of English. 

In today’s lesson, we’ll take a look at some of the general features of Hebrew grammar so you can get acquainted with the structure of the language and identify any particular grammar points you’d like to work more on. Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. General Hebrew Grammar Rules
  2. Gender and Number (For Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs)
  3. Nikkud (Diacritical Marks)
  4. Hebrew’s Root System
  5. Synthetic Grammar
  6. HebrewPod101 is Your One Stop For All the Hebrew Grammar Help You Need

1. General Hebrew Grammar Rules

A good way to broach the subject of Modern Hebrew grammar is to look at how it compares to what we know about English grammar. We’ll cover three key points by way of comparing and contrasting Hebrew with English.

1. Basic Word Order

Filing Cabinet

Let’s start by examining something basic that will generally look familiar when compared to English: the general word order you can expect in Modern Hebrew. 

But before we jump in, let’s first define the words subject, verb, and object. In the context of grammar, the subject is the agent or the noun (a person, place, thing, or idea) that is responsible for whatever the verb describes. The verb is a word describing an action or a condition or state that’s being met. The object is the noun that the subject is acting upon or affecting through the verb.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a simple example of how this plays out:

אני לומד עברית.
Ani lomed Ivrit.
“I study Hebrew.”

Here you can see the same syntax, or word order, as you would expect in English: SVO (Subject + Verb + Object). Luckily, most sentences will indeed follow this structure, though not always. One notable exception is the case of present tense sentences using the verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be.” This verb is omitted—in fact, does not even exist—in present form. So don’t think something is missing if you see a sentence with just two words, like this one:

אני שרון.
Ani Sharon.
“I [am] Sharon.”

Or even one word, like this one:

חם!
Kham!
“[It’s] hot!”

2. Tenses

Sign Post with Tenses

Speaking of tenses, there’s more good news. In Hebrew grammar, tenses are one aspect where Hebrew is immensely easier than English. This is because there are only three of them! That’s right. There are no progressive tenses (e.g. -ing verbs like going), nor are there any perfect tenses (I have gone or I have been going). There are only simple tenses: past, present, and future. 

Here are some examples to illustrate:

A. Present

  • אני הולכת הביתה עכשיו.
    Ani holekhet habaytah akhshav.
    “I am going home now.” [Literally: “I go home now.”]

B. Past

  • אני הלכתי הביתה בעשר.
    Ani halakhti habyatah be-’eser.
    “I went home at ten.”

    Note that because the verb conjugation itself tells us not only the tense of the verb, but also the person and number of the subject (in this case, first person singular), we often omit the pronoun in Hebrew. This is the more common way to say the same sentence:
  • הלכתי הביתה בעשר.
    Halakhti habaytah be-’eser.
    “I went home at ten.”

C. Future

We also tend to omit the pronoun for future tense. You can find both forms below, one with the pronoun and the other without.

  • אני אלך הביתה בעוד שעה.
    Ani elekh habaytah be-’od sha’ah.
    “I’m going home in an hour.” [Literally: “I will go home in an hour.”]
  • אלך הביתה בעוד שעה.
    Elekh habaytah be-’od sha’ah.
    “I’m going home in an hour.” [Literally: “I will go home in an hour.”]

3. Verb Conjugations

Hand with Dominoes

Israelis are famous for their blunt honesty. In that vein, the honest truth is that verb conjugation is one of the most difficult aspects of Hebrew grammar for beginners. 

This is because Hebrew uses the system of בניינים (binyanim), a word literally meaning “structures,” to pattern verb conjugation—and there are a whopping seven different בניינים. To make matters more complex, all verb conjugations are gendered and numbered as singular or plural, in addition to having different forms for different speakers (e.g. first person singular [“I”] versus first person plural [“we”] or second person singular [“you”]).

On the bright side, these patterns are very structured, as their name suggests, with few exceptions. Also to your advantage as a student of Hebrew is the fact that verbs are categorized logically into different בניינים based on the verb’s function. For instance, they are classified based on whether they are active verbs, passive verbs, or reflexive verbs.

Additionally, all of Hebrew is built on the שורש (shoresh), or “root,” system, which forms related words using the same cluster of two, three, or sometimes four consonants. This means that you will see most verbs represented in different בניינים (binyanim) to apply a meaning related to the שורש (shoresh) in different relationships. 

For example, you can see how this works with the verb לשמוע (lishmo’a), meaning “to listen” or “to hear.” Here you can see how changes to the letters and vowels around the root consonants—ש (shin), מ (mem), and ע (‘ayin)—change the meaning from listening to something or someone, to being listened to or heard, to playing something (like a CD) or making it sound, etc.

  • שמעתי שיר יפה ברדיו.
    Shamati shir yafeh ba-rad’io.
    “I heard a lovely song on the radio.”
  • השיר שנשמע ברדיו הוא מאת אריק איינשטיין.
    Ha-shir she-nishma ba-rad’io hu me’et Arik Aynshteyn.
    “The song that was heard on the radio is by Arik Einstein.”
  • בוא, אני אשמיע לך את השיר.
    Bo, Ani ashmi’alekha et ha-shir.
    “Come, I’ll play the song for you.

The bottom line is that, yes, verb conjugations are one of the tougher things to learn in Hebrew, but they do have a very clear system of patterns. Once you crack that code, you’re home free.

Important Things to Know From Day 1

Times Table on Chalkboard

To sum up our general overview of Modern Hebrew grammar, let’s look at three golden rules for English speakers to keep in mind when embarking on any serious study of Hebrew grammar.

  1. Rule #1: As we mentioned earlier, unlike in English, there is no verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be,” in the present tense. This means we often encounter very terse-looking sentences, sometimes with just one or two words.
  1. Rule #2: Unlike in English, there are only three tenses: simple present, simple past, and simple future. We can still express many of the same temporal states as English does, but we depend more on contextual words, such as time markers, to do so.
  1. Rule #3: Unlike in English, verb conjugations are quite systematic. They convey meaning beyond just person, number, and tense, based on the בניין (binyan), or conjugation pattern, used. As there are seven such conjugation patterns, don’t expect to master them all in one go. Little by little is the name of the game.

2. Gender and Number (For Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs)

Abacus

It’s very important to recognize that, unlike English, Hebrew is grammatically gendered, even when words are referring to something with no biological gender. This is similar to the Romance languages, such as Italian and French, as well as other languages like German and Russian. However, Hebrew works a bit differently, as it does not have separate masculine and feminine articles. In fact, ה (ha or he) is the only article in Hebrew, used whether a noun is masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

Hebrew has both masculine and feminine forms of many nouns, as well as nouns that only have a masculine form or a feminine form. Most, but not all, feminine nouns end in either ה (heh) or ת (tav). Another helpful tip is that, in plural form, most—but not all—masculine words end in -ים (-im); most, but not all, feminine words end in -ות (-ot).

Moreover, adjectives must agree with the gender of the noun they describe, and verbs must be conjugated according to the number and gender of their subject.

Here are just a few examples of how this affects words.

1. Nouns with both a masculine and a feminine form

Male and Female Ice Skaters
  • Masculine
    • אני רופא.
      Ani rofeh.
      “I am a doctor.”

    • אני רופא ילדים.
      Ani rofeh yeladim.
      “I am a pediatrician.”
  • Feminine
    • אני רופאה.
      Ani rof’ah.
      “I am a doctor.”
    • אני רופאת ילדים.
      Ani rof’at yeladim.
      “I am a pediatrician.”

2. Nouns which are either masculine or feminine

Dining Table
  • Masculine
    • זה סוס.
      Zeh sus.
      “This is a horse.”
    • זה כיסא.
      Zeh kise.
      “This is a chair.”
    • זה אוטו.
      Zeh oto.
      “This is a car.”
  • Feminine
    • זאת צלחת.
      Zot tzalakhat.
      “This is a plate.”
    • זאת קערה.
      Zot ke’arah.
      “This is a bowl.”
    • זאת כוס.
      Zot kos.
      “This is a cup.”

3. Gender and number with adjectives

Paper Cut-Outs of People

As mentioned, in Hebrew grammar, adjectives must be in agreement with the number and gender of the nouns they describe. Here are some examples:

  • Masculine
    • הוא רופא טוב.
      Hu rofeh tov.
      “He is a good doctor.”
    • הם רופאים טובים.
      Hem rof’im tovim.
      “They are good doctors.”
    • זה סוס גדול.
      Zeh sus gadol.
      “This is a big horse.”
    • אלה סוסים גדולים.
      Eleh susim gedolim.
      “These are big horses.”
  • Feminine
    • היא רופאה טובה.
      Hi rof’ah tovah.
      “She is a good doctor.”
    • הן רופאות טובות.
      Hen rof’ot tovot.
      “They are good doctors.”
    • זאת צלחת גדולה.
      Zot tzalakhat gedolah.
      “This is a big plate.”
    • אלה צלחות גדולות.
      Eleh tzalakhot gedolot.
      “These are big plates.”

4. Gender and number with verbs

Figurines in Arrow Formation

As we mentioned earlier, Hebrew verbs also need to be in agreement with their respective subjects in terms of number and gender. Here are some examples of how verbs change to accommodate this:

  • Masculine
    • הרופא עובד בבית החולים.
      Ha-rofe ‘oved be-veyt ha-kholim.
      “The doctor works at the hospital.”
    • הרופאים עובדים בבית החולים.
      Ha-rof’im ‘ovdim be-veyt ha-kholim.
      “The doctors work at the hospital.”
  • Feminine
    • הרופאה עובדת בבית החולים.
      Ha-rof’ah ‘ovedet be-veyt ha-kholim.
      “The doctor works at the hospital.”
    • הרופאות עובדות בבית החולים.
      Ha-rof’ot ‘ovdot be-veyt ha-kholim.
      “The doctors work at the hospital.”

3. Nikkud (Diacritical Marks)

Fountain Pen

Another key point of both Hebrew grammar and Hebrew orthography is that of ניקוד (nikkud), or diacritical marks. 

Because Hebrew is an abjad, written Hebrew letters are restricted to consonants or placeholders for vowels, while vowels themselves are represented by lines and dots above, below, or next to these letters. To make the ride even more exciting, written and printed Modern Hebrew—as well as, incidentally, the Torah, or Hebrew Bible—almost always omit these diacritical marks. This means that learners will need to first learn to read with them, and then wean themselves off of the written vowels, eventually learning to infer them as native Hebrew speakers do. Think of it like learning to ride a bicycle with training wheels, which are eventually taken off so you can ride freely.

As for the grammatical significance of ניקוד, there are two key points you should know.

1. Consonant Homonyms

Woman Reading with Confused Look

Firstly, there are consonant homonyms. These are words whose letters (which, if you recall, are only consonants and vowel placeholders) look identical, but which are not actually homophones (words that sound the same). This is because the vowels make all the difference. We obviously need to know which word we’re dealing with if we want to get the rest of our grammar right.

Here’s an example of three letters that can spell out three totally different words, based on the vowels employed. Just remember that you would normally see these all written without the diacritical marks as דוד (equivalent to dvd), and would have to infer the right word based on the context. Tricky, I know. But the fun is in the challenge!

  • דָּוִד
    David
    “David,” as in the proper name
  • דּוֹד
    Dod
    “Uncle”
  • דּוּד
    Dud
    “Boiler”

2. Construct States

Boy Handing Girl a Book

Another way that ניקוד is related to grammar is in the case of construct states. 

In Hebrew grammar, construct states are where two nouns work together to form either a compound noun or a genitive (possessive) phrase. In a construct state, the first noun will be the genitive of the second noun, making the second noun “possessed” by the first. In most cases, the words involved will see some change to their letters and their ניקוד, and in some cases only to their ניקוד. In the latter cases, considering that the vowels are generally omitted, you will once again have to learn to infer them. 

Here are some examples:

  • עוּגָה
    ‘Ugah
    “Cake”
  • עוּגַת שׁוֹקוֹלָד
    ‘Ugat shokolad
    “Chocolate cake” (Literally: “Cake of chocolate”)
  • מִלְחָמָה
    Milkhamah
    “War”
  • מִלְחֶמֶת הָעַצְמָאוּת
    Milkhemet ha-Atzma’ut
    “The War of Independence”
  • סְפָרִים
    S’farim
    “Books”
  • סִפְרֵי יְלָדִים
    Sifrey yeladim
    “Children’s books”
  • בַּיִת
    Bayit
    “House”
  • בֵּית סֵפֶר
    Beyt sefer
    “School” (Literally: “House of the book”)

4. Hebrew’s Root System

Tree Roots

Another key aspect is Hebrew’s root system. 

One of the most interesting and unique aspects of the Hebrew language is its use of שורשים (shorashim), a system of using consonant roots to form words. Not only do these roots help you to acquire, recognize, and even infer new vocabulary, but they also make for a very systematic learning experience. 

If you visually and sonically contrast Hebrew words belonging to one root with their English counterparts, you will see just how much more inviting Hebrew’s system is. Instead of having to memorize words that have no apparent connection other than their meanings, the relationships between Hebrew words is evident in both their look and their sound.

This root system applies to all parts of speech, as we’ve already seen. 

Let’s have just a quick glimpse at some examples of words derived from a single root to better understand how this works in Hebrew. We’ll use the triconsonantal root אמר (equivalent to amr) here, but keep in mind that the patterns you see here can be applied to almost any root to express almost anything.

  1. לומר
    Lomar
    “To say”
  1. להיאמר
    Lehe’amer
    “To be said”
  1. אמירה
    Amira
    “Saying”
  1. מאמר
    Ma’amar
    “Article”

As you can clearly see, by identifying the root consonants, you can get some idea of the “family” a word is in, even if you’re unsure of its exact meaning. In this case, each of these words have to do with speaking or expressing oneself. Moreover, once you begin to recognize set patterns, you’ll be even better prepared to grasp a word’s meaning. For instance, the מ (mem) in מאמר (ma’amar) is a common prefix added to a root to create a noun form.

In addition to using this root system to form different but related words, Hebrew uses suffixes and prefixes to provide further information about words. This is particularly true for the genitive form. For instance, מאמרי (ma’amari) would be “my article,” מאמרו (ma’amaro) “his article,” and מאמרנו (ma’amarenu) “our article.”

5. Synthetic Grammar

Man Speaking to Woman with Letters and Question Mark Floating

A final, crucial grammar point to be aware of is that Hebrew is largely synthetic, meaning that it uses different morphologies, or physical forms of the same word, to convey meaning, relationships, and other information. We already saw this in terms of the genitive, but there are other cases where this is true as well. 

Let’s look at some common situations, along with examples.

1. Prefixes for articles and prepositions

Books

One way in which words can change is by gaining a prefix or prefixes in order to accommodate an article, a preposition, or both. Note how all of these look, visually, like single words, but (apart from the first example) they all consist of two or three elements.

  • ספר
    Sefer
    “Book”
  • הספר
    Ha-sefer
    “The book”
  • מִסֵּפֶר
    Mi-sefer
    “From a book”
  • מהספר
    Me-ha-sefer
    “From the book”

2. Suffixes for plurals and genitives

Twins with Book and Computer

We also saw that suffixes are used, as in English, to form plurals. They can also be used to indicate that a noun is genitive, or both genitive and plural. 

Here are some examples:

  • ספר
    Sefer
    “Book”
  • ספרי
    Sifri
    “My book”
  • ספרו
    Sifro
    “His book”
  • ספרים
    Sfarim
    “Books”
  • ספריו
    Sfarav
    “His books”
  • אהבה
    Ahavah
    “Love”
  • אהבות
    Ahavot
    “Loves”
  • אהבותיהם
    Ahavoteyhem
    “Their loves” (with “their” referring to masculine or mixed gender)

6. HebrewPod101 is Your One Stop For All the Hebrew Grammar Help You Need

As you can see, while Hebrew grammar does share some elements in common with English, there is plenty of new territory to be explored when learning this unique language. HebrewPod101 is here to help you every step of the way with clear and engaging lessons that break things down, step-by-step, with plenty of examples and usage in context.

Our lessons include both text- and audio-based units to keep your learning diverse and interesting. As you can see by the examples we linked to throughout the article, we have a truly vast wealth of materials at your disposal so that you can pick and choose as you wish based on your needs and interests.

We hope you’ve found this overview helpful, and we look forward to guiding and encouraging you along the way as you progress with your Hebrew studies. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any questions about what we covered today.

Shalom!

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The Top 25 Hebrew Quotes

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In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “It is a pleasure to be able to quote lines to fit any occasion.” 

While this may be a truism, the unique allure of the aptly chosen and well-timed quote is something many of us give little thought to. The famous actress and singer Marlene Dietrich offers one insightful quote about quotes to help sum up this common phenomenon: “I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”

Now, how does this apply to Hebrew quotes specifically?

While slipping in a pithy quote would seem to be a universal practice, one might argue that Jewish culture prizes it more so than other cultures. This may be because, as the People of the Book, Jews have historically viewed specific—and often encyclopedic—knowledge of Scripture and the ensuant body of legal and literary works as a special badge of erudition. In fact, the phenomenon of citing a well-turned, previously coined phrase is already ingrained in the Hebrew Bible itself, which contains multiple instances of self-reference (i.e. quoting verses in one part of the Bible from another part). 

It comes as no surprise that the Bible should be such a common source of quotes, widely read as it is the world over. Moreover, there are numerous works in the Bible that are quite clearly consciously preoccupied with the shaping of eloquent language to express the variety of life’s experiences with concision and panache. Indeed, by way of example, the Book of Proverbs is so named because it is just that: a sententious anthology of aphorisms beautifully shaped to the unique economical lines of the Hebrew language.

Indeed, Hebrew quotes from or about the Torah have long dominated the quotation scene, so to speak. This is largely due to the fact that, though Hebrew continued to be used more or less continuously in the post-Biblical era to produce religiously themed works of poetry and prose, there was no real secular Jewish culture or literature until relatively recently in history. On this note, it’s important to keep in mind that integration and assimilation were, for the most part, not possible throughout most of Jewish history, particularly in Europe. As a result, with a few notable exceptions, Jews didn’t really participate in secular culture even where it had taken root in the broader societies in which they lived.

Moreover, beginning from the Roman Exile around the year 70 BCE, Jews largely abandoned Hebrew as a spoken language. During this time, Yiddish (a blend of Hebrew and German) was the lingua franca of most European Jewish communities—or Ashkenazi Jews—and Ladino (a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish) was the preferred tongue among Sephardic Jewish communities, namely those from Spain. Indeed, outside of Israel, Hebrew was generally deemed inappropriate for use in describing lay matters; it became consciously reserved as לשון הקודש (leshon ha-kodesh), or “the language of holy matters.”

Thus, the vast majority of literary endeavors in Jewish communities were restricted to religious texts throughout most of history. However, particularly from the Haskalah movement of the late nineteenth century onward, European Jews (and later their brethren elsewhere) found entry into the secular, enlightened world. They henceforth began both partaking of and contributing to it, including through secular writings on all manner of topics. Many of these texts were, however, not in Hebrew, but rather in European languages like German, French, and English. One need only think of a few representative luminaries, such as Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Arthur Miller, and Ayn Rand to realize that the Jewish contribution to modern-world literature has been nothing less than immense.

Apart from opening doors to the literary worlds of other languages, the Haskalah movement also gave rise to a new, secularized Jewish culture that emphasized the revival of Hebrew writing as a vehicle to express worldly (as opposed to religious) matters. The movement also marked a division between Yiddish- and Hebrew-language literature, the latter of which also represents a fairly broad corpus of secular (as well as religious) works.

With the expansion of the Zionist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, and with the return of ever-increasing numbers of Jews to their historical home in the Land of Israel, a new Hebrew literature flourished, as did the language’s lexis and range of expression. Hebrew novels, poems, and songs, as well as journalistic, academic, and technical texts, abounded with each passing year. Fast-forward to the modern State of Israel today, and Hebrew as a written language is not only alive and well, but more robust than ever. It’s also ever-evolving, with countless works published in every possible genre and field each year. 

As a result of all this rich history, today’s Hebrew-speaking world has a broad and varied corpus of literature—both historical and new—to draw on when looking for the right quote for any given occasion. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at the top 25 Hebrew quotes, covering a range of topics from love to learning, and everything in-between. Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Life
  2. Quotes About Love
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Work
  5. Quotes About Family and Friendship
  6. Quotes About Wisdom and Foolishness
  7. Quotes About Food and Drink
  8. Quotes About Happiness and Health
  9. Quotes About Language
  10. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Life

Earth from Space

We’ll start by looking at some Hebrew quotes about life that cover topics such as the passage of time, the pace of life, life’s different stages, and the difficulties that life puts before us.

1. ואבא תמיד אומר, תעזבנו יום, יעזבך יומיים. העגלה נוסעת, אין עצור. קפצת ממנה היום, חלפו שנתיים והנה נשארת מאחור.

-מאיר אריאל, “נשל הנחש”

Ve-Abba tamid omer, ta’azvenu yom, ya’azvekha yomayim. Ha-agalah nosa’at, eyn atzor. Kafatzta mimenah hayom, khalfu sh’natayim ve-hine nish’arta me-akhor.

-Me’ir Ari’el, Neshel ha-Nakhash

“And father always says, leave it a day, it will leave you for two. The wagon travels on; there is no stopping. Jump off it today, two years go by. And look, you’ve been left behind.”

-Meir Ariel, The Skin of the Snake

This quote comes from a famous song by modern Israeli singer-songwriter Meir Ariel. The lines cited speak to the notion that life can easily pass us by if we don’t keep up with the pace of things. The quote itself actually paraphrases a passage from the Talmud, the main corpus of Jewish legal interpretations. The original Talmud passage means, essentially, that if you leave something undone, don’t expect it to hang around waiting for you.

2. הכל עבר כל כך מהר וקצת קשה להיזכר איך פעם זה היה פשוט לשיר לחיות ולא למות.

-יהונתן גפן, “אתם זוכרים את השירים”

Ha-kol avar kol kakh maher u-ktzat kasheh lehizakher eykh pa’am zeh hayah pashut lashir likhyot ve-lo lamut.

-Yehonatan Geffen, “Atem Zokhrim et ha-Shirim”

“Everything went by so quickly, and it’s a bit hard to remember how once it was simple to sing, to live, and not to die.”

-Yehonatan Geffen, You Remember the Songs

This quote about life is from author, poet, and songwriter Yehonatan Geffen. It comes from a song that embodies the feeling of nostalgia for one’s lost youth and the innocence of days gone by. The line cited captures the particular poignancy of such nostalgia from an Israeli perspective: the loss of youth goes hand in hand with the realization of the dangers and difficulties of life in a world in constant war.

3. כל ההתחלות קשות, אך קשה מהן היא ההתמדה.

-חיים נחמן ביאליק

Kol ha-hatkhalot kashot, akh kasheh me-hen hi ha-hatmadah.

-Khayim Nakhman Bialik

“All beginnings are hard, but harder yet is perseverance.”

-Khayim Nakhman Bialik

This is indeed an oft-cited quote in Israel, coming from the pen of one of modern Israel’s greatest poets. Bialik was so influential as a pioneer of Hebrew language poetry—apart from his prominence as a Yiddish writer—that for a long period, much poetry from other Hebrew writers was essentially derivative of his style. This is another quote that paraphrases an earlier Rabbinic precept, according to which beginnings are particularly difficult. The quote goes further by pointing out that it’s even more difficult to stick to something over time.

2. Quotes About Love

Pages Folded in Heart Shape

Now, let’s take a look at a topic we all love: love! We’ll examine three Hebrew quotes on love, each quote representing one of the three general periods of Hebrew: modern, Rabbinic, and Biblical.

4. בין האפל לנסתר בעולמנו המר, אומרים שיש עוד תקווה. קוראים לזה אהבה ומחכים לבואה.

-ארקדי דוכין, “יש בי אהבה”

Beyn ha-afel la-nistar be-olamenu ha-mar, omrim she-yesh od tikvah. Kor’im le-zeh ahavah u-mekhakim le-vo’ah.

-Arkadi Dukhin, “Yesh Bi Ahavah”

“Between the hazy and the hidden in our bitter world, they say there is still hope. It’s called love, and we await its coming.”

-Arkadi Duchin, I Have Love

This quote by famous singer-songwriter Arkadi Duchin is a beautiful encapsulation of both the need for love in a broken world and the deep yearning we all feel for it.

5. כל אהבה שהיא תלויה בדבר, בטל דבר בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר אינה בטלה לעולם.

פרקי אבות ה’:י”ט

Kol ahavah she-hi tluyah be-davar, batel davar batlah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah tluyah be-davar eynah batlah le-olam.

-Masekhet Avot 5:19

“All love that is reliant upon a thing annuls that same thing. Love that is not reliant upon a thing will last forever.”

-Chapters of the Fathers 5:19

This pearl of wisdom comes from a famous compilation of ethical teachings from the Rabbinic sages. It gives eloquent expression to the notion that true love is not dependent on material matters, and that any love that does depend on something material is bound to be lost if that material thing is lost. This is similar to, though more analytical and specific than, the English adage, “True love lasts forever.”

6. אני לדודי ודודי לי, הרעה בשושנים.

-שיר השירים ו’:ג’

Ani le-dodi ve-dodi li, ha-ro’eh ba-shoshanim.

-Shir ha-Shirim 6:3

“I belong to my beloved, and he belongs to me, he who pastures his flock among the lilies.”

-Song of Songs 6:3

This is one of the more famous Hebrew Biblical quotes from the seminal love song known as Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. The theme of שושנים (shoshanim), or “lilies” (sometimes translated as “roses”), is recurrent in this work. A flower surrounded by sharp thorns serves to emphasize the contrast of beauty versus pain, as well as the fragility of love and perhaps the care we must show in how we treat our beloved.

3. Quotes About Time

Sun Dial

Though it’s often said that time is an illusion, it certainly is a pervasive aspect of life and a common theme in literature and art the world over. Hebrew culture is no exception. Here are a couple of Hebrew quotes about time.

7. גדול הוא האומץ לחכות מן האומץ לשפוך את הלב.

-נתן זך, “גדול הוא האומץ לחכות”

Gadol hu ha-ometz lekhakot min ha-ometz lishpokh et ha-lev.

-Natan Zakh, “Gadol Hu ha-Ometz Lekhakot”

“Greater is the courage to wait than the courage to spill one’s heart out.”

-Natan Zach, Greater is the Courage to Wait

This quote speaks on both the difficulty and the importance of holding out for the right moment rather than jumping the gun. The quote focuses specifically on the value of holding one’s tongue and speaking in the most opportune moment, rather than saying too much too soon. Of course, one can also apply these words to broader contexts.

8. לבל יהי יומי עליי כתמול שלשום. לבל יהי עליי יומי הרגל.”

-לאה גולדברג, “למדני אלוהי”

Leval yehi yomi alay ke-tmol shilshom. Leval yehi alay yomi hergel.

-Le’ah Goldberg, “Lamdeni Elohay”

“Lest my day be for me as yesterday or the day before. Lest my day be a habit to me.”

-Leah Goldberg, Teach Me, My Lord

This quote, from a poem by one of Israel’s most renowned poets, speaks on the importance of seeing each day with open eyes, renewing our energy, and making each day count. Here, in the form of a prayer, the poet asks God to help her avoid falling into a dull and repetitive routine so that she can remain engaged and excited about life each day.

4. Quotes About Work

Farmer Plowing

Jews are well-known the world over for being hard workers. Indeed, the image of the חלוצים (khalutzim), or “pioneers,” who drained the swamps, planted the forests, and generally built a flourishing country out of deserts and wastelands is deeply ingrained in the Israeli psyche. These pioneers are regarded as the nation’s early heroes. On that note, let’s now have a look at some Hebrew language quotes about work.

9. היום קצר והמלאכה מרובה.

-פרקי אבות ב’:ט”ו

Ha-yom katzar ve-ha-melakhah merubah.

-Pirkey Avot 2:15

“The day is short, and the work abounds.”

-Chapters of the Fathers 2:15

This terse quote, attributed to the sage Rabbi Tarfon, is another gem from Chapters of the Fathers. In an inimitable style, it encompasses the notion that time is short but the labor before us is great, such that we must take advantage of the time we have to get things done before it’s too late. A rough parallel in English might be: “Make hay while the sun shines.”

10. העבודה הראשונה העומדת עתה לפני האנושות היא עבודה של חינוך עצמי.

א.ד. גורדון, “האדם והטבע”

Ha-’avodah ha-rishonah ha-’omedet ‘atah lifney ha-enoshut hi ‘avodah shel khinukh ‘atzmi.

-A.D. Gordon, “Ha-Adam ve-ha-Teva’”

“The first order of business facing humanity today is that of self-education.”

-A.D. Gordon, Man and Nature

This wonderful quote comes from A.D. Gordon, a חלוץ (khalutz), or “pioneer,” who moved to the Land of Israel at an advanced age to live on a kibbutz. He was somewhat akin to an Israeli Henry David Thoreau, emphasizing in his writings the importance of doing an honest day’s work (particularly in terms of agriculture), living in harmony with nature, and, as this quote reflects, ensuring one’s own self-education through life experience.

5. Quotes About Family and Friendship

Siblings

Now let’s look at a theme of universal importance, namely that of family and friends. Here are some choice Hebrew quotes about family and friendship for you to ponder.

11. אני ואתה נשנה את העולם. אני ואתה, אז יבואו כבר כולם.

אריק איינשטיין, “אני ואתה”

Ani ve-atah neshaneh et ha-’olam. Ani ve-atah, az yavo’u kvar kulam.

-Arik Aynshteyn, “Ani ve-Atah”

“You and I, we’ll change the world. You and I, the rest will soon follow.”

-Arik Einstein, You and I

This is a lovely quote from iconic Israeli singer-songwriter and actor Arik Einstein. It speaks of the eternal hope of changing the world for the better, something that’s possible as long as we have just one person we can count on. The song doesn’t specify if the other person is family or a friend, but it clearly speaks of someone with whom there is a strong bond.

12. לא טוב היות האדם לבדו.

-בראשית ב’:י”ח

Lo tov heyot ha-adam levado.

-Bereyshit 2:18

“It is not good for man to be alone.”

-Genesis 2:18

This is, interestingly, the first piece of advice God offers Man in the creation story found in Genesis. God speaks these words to Adam just before informing him that He will create a partner for him (namely, Eve).

13. כשתשאל על אדם, שאל מי רעהו.

-רבי שלמה אבן גבירול, “מבחר הפנינים”

Ke-she-tish’al ‘al adam, she’al mi re’ehu.

-Rabi Shlomoh ibn Gabirol, “Mivkhar Pninim”

“Should you ask about a man, ask who his friends are.”

-Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, Choice Pearls

This pearl of wisdom comes from a brilliant eleventh century poet and scholar whose influence on Hebrew culture has been profound over the centuries. Here, he eloquently expresses the notion that we are to be judged not only for our own merits and faults, but for those of the people with whom we choose to associate.

6. Quotes About Wisdom and Foolishness

Human Head and Brain

The theme of wisdom versus foolishness is a common one throughout Hebrew literature of every era, such that there are seemingly endless quotations to draw on in this category. Let’s have a look at a few popular Hebrew quotes that touch on this topic.

14. זו שסיימה בית ספר יתר על המידה, שהוציאה את כל השפה על נסיונות. תחת חלון על השלחן מנחת תעודה: ‘עברה את כשלונותיה’.

נורית זרחי, “שיעורי העונות”

Zu she-siymah beyt sefer yeter ‘al ha-midah, she-hotzi’ah et kol ha-safah ‘al nisyonot. Takhat khalon ‘al ha-shulkhan munakhat te’udah: ‘’Avrah et kishlonoteyhah.’

-Nurit Zarkhi, “Shi’urey ha-’Onot”

“She who finished school and then some, who spent all her language on experience. Beneath a window on the table lies a diploma: ‘She passed her failures’.”

-Nurit Zarchi, Seasons’ Lessons

This quote, from Israeli poet Nurit Zarchi, may be considered a parallel to Mark Twain’s famous quip, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Both authors draw our attention to the fact that there is much wisdom to be gleaned outside the confines of the classroom. In Zarchi’s case, she focuses specifically on the need to go through hardships—to fall and pick oneself up again—in order to fully “graduate.” This is more or less what we mean when we refer to the School of Hard Knocks in English.

15. מן המקום שבו אנו צודקים לא יצמחו לעולם פרחים באביב‭.

-יהודה עמיחי, “המקום שבו אנו צודקים”

Min ha-makom she-bo anu tzodkim lo yitzmekhu le-’olam prakhim ba-Aviv.

-Yehudah ‘Amikhay, “Ha-Makom she-Bo Anu Tzodkim”

“From the place where we are right, no flowers will ever bloom in spring.”

-Yehuda Amichai, The Place Where We Are Right

This is a particularly apt poem for Israel, considering the endless polemics wrapped up in the Israeli reality over so many different things, including existence itself. Here, soldier-turned-poet Yehuda Amichai, widely considered modern Israel’s most important poet, poignantly reminds us that excessive insistence on being right very often comes at the expense of growth and peace.

16. אין שכל, אין דאגות.

-עממי

Eyn sekhel, eyn de’agot.

-’Amami

“No brains, no worries.”

-Popular saying

This one, though not attributed to any particular author, is a very common saying in Israel. The gist of it is that people who think less worry less, much like the English saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” In the Hebrew version, this is both a blessing and a curse. People who enjoy the tranquility of ignorance are also often unaware of problems, even when such awareness might be to their benefit or when their ignorance may affect others negatively.

7. Quotes About Food and Drink

Set Table

Anyone who knows the first thing about Judaism knows that food and drink are a central theme in our culture. In fact, there’s even a popular dark joke in Israel, according to which all Jewish holidays can be classified as either feast days to celebrate the Jewish people surviving an attempted massacre, or fast days to commemorate the Jewish people falling victim to such a massacre. Let’s look at some representative quotes in the Hebrew language on food and drink.

17. על טעם וריח אין להתווכח‎.

-אברהם שלונסקי

‘Al ta’am ve-reyakh eyn lehitvake’akh.

-Avraham Shlonski

“One should not argue over taste and smell.”

-Avraham Shlonsky

This aphorism is a fairly ubiquitous one in Israeli life, and is something like a combination of the English sayings, “There is no accounting for taste,” and “To each his own.” Ironically (or perhaps not!), Israelis love to argue about food, drink, and other matters of taste. An altogether common conversation (or argument) topic in Israel, for instance, is where one can get the best hummus; agreement over one particular hummus shop is a rare creature, indeed!

18. למדני את השיר הפשוט של הלחם ופרוס לי חלק משלומך.

-רחל שפירא, “למדני את השיר הפשוט”

Lamdeni et ha-shir ha-pashut shel ha-lekhem u-fros li khelek mi-shlomekha.

-Rakhel Shapira, “Lamdeni et ha-Shir ha-Pashut”

“Teach me the simple song of bread, and slice me a piece of peace.”

This line comes from a beautiful song by poet and songwriter Rachel Shapira, who composed many of the most famous classics in Israeli music. This quote speaks of the importance of appreciating the simpler pleasures of life, such as a humble slice of bread. This sentiment is similar to what Walt Whitman meant when he wrote, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”

19. ויין ישמח לבב אנוש.

-תהלים ק”ד:ט”ו

Ve-yayin yesamakh levav enosh.

Tehilim 104:15

“And wine shall gladden the heart of man.”

Psalms 104:15

This ancient passage from the Book of Psalms is often cited even in modern Hebrew to express, with eloquence and economy, the unique pleasures afforded by wine.

8. Quotes About Happiness and Health

Happy Older Couple

Health and happiness are common themes in Hebrew culture, with connections often being made between the two. Let’s see some good examples of Hebrew quotes about happiness and health. 

20. כי השמחה שלי היא המחאה שלי.

נעמי שמר, “על ראש שמחתי”

Ki ha-simkha sheli hi ha-mekha’ah sheli.

-Na’omi Shemer, “‘Al Rosh Simkhati”

“For my happiness is my protest.”

-Naomi Shemer, My Chiefest Joy

Naomi Shemer, often labeled the “First Lady” of Israeli music, was a prolific singer-songwriter particularly famous for her song ירושלים של זהב (Yerushalayim shel Zahav), meaning “Jerusalem of Gold.” This quote perhaps serves to help explain how Israel, despite the constant strain and strife of daily life under fire, is consistently reported among the happiest countries according to surveys. Not only is happiness a necessary answer to hardship, but a form of peaceful protest against violence.

21. אין עושר כבריאות, ולא נעימות כמו לב הטוב.

-רבי שלמה אבן גבירול, “מבחר הפנינים”

Eyn ‘osher ke-vri’ut, ve-lo ne’imut kmo lev ha-tov.

-Rabi Shlomoh ibn Gabirol, “Mivkhar Pninim

“There is no joy like health, and no pleasure like a heart of goodness.”

-Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, Choice Pearls

Another wonderful quote from ibn Gabirol, this one almost seems to sum up the entirety of life! Indeed, it simply speaks for itself.

22. תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב ועץ חיים תאוה באה.

-משלי י”ג:י”ב

Tokhelet memushakhah makhalah lev ve-’etz khayim ta’avah ba’ah.

-Mishley 13:12

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a tree of life is a longing fulfilled.”

Proverbs 13:12

This pithy maxim from Proverbs touches on the power of following one’s dreams and ensuring they are realized, rather than waiting too long and letting them fade.

9. Quotes About Language

Dictionary and Key

What better way to end our list of Hebrew quotes than to enjoy some quotes about language itself? Here they are.

23. בארץ הלוהטת הזאת, מילים צריכות להיות צל.

יהודה עמיחי, “שיר אהבה”

Ba-aretz ha-lohetet ha-zot, milim tzrikhot lihiyot tzel.

-Yehudah ‘Amikhay, “Shir Ahavah”

“In this blazing land, words must be shade.”

-Yehuda Amichai, Love Song

This quote speaks of the essential power of language to comfort and shelter us, and how vital that function of language is in a place as infernal as Israel has been.

24. מות וחיים ביד לשון, ואהביה יאכל פריה.

משלי י”ח:כ”א

Mavet ve-khayim be-yad lashon, ve-ohavehah yokhal piryah.

-Mishley 18:21

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

-Proverbs 18:21

This passage from Proverbs speaks of the power of language for both good and evil. It also sheds light on the fact that those who truly love language and use it wisely will reap the benefit from their own words accordingly.

25. לעזאזל השיר וכל אשר בו. אני צריכה 120 שקל חדש בחשבון אחרון.

-דליה רביקוביץ, “פרנסה”

La-’Azazel ha-shir ve-khol asher bo. Ani tzrikhah me’ah-’esrim shekel khadsh be-kheshbon akharon.

-Daliyah Ravikovitz, “Parnasah”

“To hell with poetry and everything that goes with it. I need 120 new Israeli shekels, when all is said and done.”

-Dalia Ravikovitch, Livelihood

To end on a lighter note, here’s a quote that captures the sardonic use of language so typical of much Israeli humor. Here, a writer ironically mocks her own craft, at once affirming (through the very fact of having written these lines) and dismissing (through the content of the lines) the art of poetry.

10. Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our compilation of Hebrew quotes! Remember that learning Hebrew doesn’t just mean learning grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation—it also means tapping into an entire culture, rich in wisdom gleaned over millennia of reflection. As you can now attest to, much of this wisdom is captured in the vast Hebrew library of literary works, both old and new. In that vein, which of these Hebrew quotes was your favorite, and why?

We at HebrewPod101 are convinced that learning a language is as much a cultural endeavor as it is a linguistic one, and we hope today’s lesson has enriched your understanding of Hebrew from a new perspective. Check out our wealth of resources on many other aspects of Jewish and Israeli culture to learn even more. When you learn Hebrew with HebrewPod101, you’ll always be prepared to say the right thing at the right time!

Shalom!

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Take Care of Business with Hebrew Business Phrases

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In Israel, business is booming. It’s well-known that Israel is one of the most advanced and dynamic economies the world over. The country has, in fact, been dubbed the Startup Nation for the immense number of businesses launched in or from Israel. Having only sparse natural resources, Israel has, since its inception, wisely invested in its human resource through extensive research and development. In particular, Israel is a world leader in technology pertaining to communications, computers, aviation, the military, agriculture, and medicine, among many other sectors.

Amazingly, Israel has more companies listed on NASDAQ than any other country, except the U.S. and China! So, if you’re planning on doing business with Israelis or in Israel, it’s wise to prepare; Israeli businesspeople are no slouches when it comes to making a deal! With that in mind, there’s no better way to simultaneously make a good impression and position yourself for a favorable outcome than to arm yourself with a handy toolkit of Hebrew business words and phrases.

Like any language, Hebrew has its own lingo for conducting business. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at essential words and phrases for interviewing for a job, interacting with coworkers, impressing at business meetings, and fielding business-related phone calls and emails. So, get your pencils sharpened and your coffee ready to go, and let’s get to work!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Nailing a Job Interview
  2. Interacting with Coworkers
  3. Sounding Smart in Meetings
  4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails
  5. Let HebrewPod101 Get You Ready for Business

1. Nailing a Job Interview

Man In Suit Covering Face with @ Sign

If you’re planning on working for Israelis, it’s essential that you’re able to get your foot in the door. The first step is, of course, the oft-dreaded job interview. To make matters more intense, the Israeli business world is extremely competitive, as Israel is a small country filled with highly qualified people. (In fact, Israel’s citizens are the third-most educated in the world, after those in Canada and Japan!)

To ensure you give yourself a competitive edge, you’ll need to impress your prospective employer with your command of business Hebrew phrases. In this section, we’ll talk about how to introduce yourself, elaborate on your professional background, and respond to any questions the employer may have for you. 

Let’s have a look at some of the key words and phrases for nailing a job interview in Hebrew.

1. Introducing Yourself

Businesspeople Shaking Hands

You obviously want to start with a greeting. Here are the two most common ways to say hello in Hebrew.

a. שלום
Shalom
“Hello”

שלום (shalom), which literally means “peace,” is the most classic greeting in Hebrew. It also has the advantages of being appropriate in any situation, whether formal or informal, and not requiring any verb conjugations or gender-specific words. This makes it an easy-to-use greeting that will definitely be appropriate for your job interview.

b. היי
Hay
“Hi”

You can also use this less-formal greeting in a pinch. Next, let’s look at how to provide your name.

2. Self-Introduction

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to offer your name, and to ask for the other person’s name. We covered this topic in depth in our article about introductions, but here are the basic elements:

c. אני
Ani
“I [am]”

d. שמי
Shmi
“My name [is]”

e. השם שלי הוא
Ha-shem sheli hu
“My name is”

f. קוראים לי
Kor’im li
“I am called/named”

For example:

  • שלום, שמי דניאל.
    Shalom, shmi Dani’el.
    “Hello, my name is Daniel.”
  • היי, קוראים לי מישל.
    Hay, kor’im li Mishel.
    “Hi, I am named Michelle.”

Remember, none of these require any conjugation, so just practice until you memorize them, and you’re good to go!

3. Talking About Professional Experience

Different Occupations

There are some business terms in Hebrew that you should know to talk about your professional experience. These include key verbs and phrases to describe your studies, previous employment, and job duties. Let’s have a look.

a. למדתי
Lamadeti
“I studied/learned”

This is a very useful verb for describing things you’ve learned, whether at an institution of higher learning, on the job, or otherwise.

  • למדתי הנדסה חמש שנים.
    Lamadeti handasah khamesh shanim.
    I studied engineering for five years.”
  • למדתי עבודה בצוות בעבודה הקודמת שלי.
    Lamadeti avodah be-tzevet ba-avodah ha-kodemet sheli.
    I learned teamwork at my previous job.”
  • למדתי לתואר שני במנהל עסקים באוניברסיטת שיקגו.
    Lamadeti le-to’ar sheni be-minhal asakim be-universitat Shikago.
    I studied for my Masters degree in business management at the University of Chicago.”

b. יש לי
Yesh li
“I have”

You may have learned that Hebrew has no verb for “to have” and instead uses the form יש לי (yesh li), which is literally equivalent to, “There is/are to me.” We can use this phrase to describe experience, credentials, and more. Here are some examples:

  • יש לי תואר בחשבונאות.
    Yesh li to’ar be-kheshbona’ut.
    I have a degree in accounting.”
  • יש לי תעודה בתכנות JAVA.
    Yesh li te’udah be-tikhnut JAVA.
    I have a certificate in Java programming.”
  • יש לי הרבה ניסיון בשירות מול לקוחות.
    Yesh li harbeh nisayon be-sheyrut mul lekokhot.
    I have a lot of experience in customer service.”

c. התמחיתי ב ___.
Hitmakheti be ___.
“I specialized in ___.”

  • התמחיתי במיזוגים ורכישות בתפקיד הקודם שלי.
    Hitmakheyti be-mizugim ve-rekhishot ba-tafkid ha-kodem sheli.
    I specialized in mergers and acquisitions in my previous job.”
  • התמחיתי בפיתוח שווקים במסגרת התואר השני שלי.
    Hitmakheyti be-fitu’akh shvakim be-misgeret ha-to’ar ha-sheni sheli.
    I specialized in market development during my Master’s studies.”

4. Asking the Interviewer to Repeat His/Her Question

During the course of an interview, you may find yourself unsure of what you’ve been asked, or needing clarity for some other reason. In such a case, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking the interviewer to repeat a question. Let’s see how to do so.

  • האם תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על השאלה, בבקשה?
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli lakhzor al ha-she’elah be-vakashah?
    “Could you repeat the question, please?”

5. Thanking the Interviewer for the Opportunity

Thank You Written Out

At the conclusion of a job interview, it’s considered polite—and therefore, in your interest—to thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you and for the opportunity to present your candidacy for the position. Let’s see how to do that in Hebrew.

  • תודה על ההזדמנות.
    Todah al ha-hizdamnut.
    “Thank you for the opportunity.”

6. Closing the Interview

Lastly, it’s a good idea to express your enthusiasm for the job. Here are a couple of good ways to do so.

a. אשמח להיות בקשר.
Esmakh lihiot be-kesher.
“I look forward to being in touch.”

b. אני מְקַוֶּה/מְקַוָּה להיות בקשר.
Ani mekaveh/mekavah lehiyot be-kesher.
“I hope to be in touch.”

*Note the need to properly conjugate the last one, depending on your gender!

2. Interacting with Coworkers

Now, let’s assume you got the job you interviewed for, and are looking to build some rapport with your coworkers. In the following section, we’ll take a look at a number of important Hebrew business phrases for communicating with your colleagues.

1. Asking Someone’s Name

Girl with Question Mark Covering Face

The easiest way to ask for the other person’s name, assuming they haven’t shared it with you on their own (though many Israelis will give their name without needing to be asked), is to use the verb לקרוא (likro). This is the same form we just looked at for stating your own name, but this time we’ll be using it in question form.

The good news is that we only need to conjugate one word; in this case, it’s the second person pronoun “you.” Specifically, if we’re talking to a male, we ask, איך קוראים לְךָ? (Eich korim lekha?), while if speaking to a female, we ask, איך קוראים לָךְ? (Eich kor’im lakh?).

  • איך קוראים לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Eikh korim lekha/lakh?
    “What is your name?”

Here are some ways you could respond after getting their name.

a. נעים מאוד.
Naim me’od.
“Nice to meet you.”

b. נעים להכיר.
Na’im lehakir.
“Nice to meet you.”

2. Asking Others for Help

Hands Reaching Out

Especially if you’re new to a job, you may well find yourself in need of a bit of help, whether it’s to get the copier working or to find the nearest takeout joint for lunch. Here are the most common ways to ask for help. Pay attention to gender and how it changes the verb’s conjugation.

  • סליחה, האם תוכל/תוכלי לעזור לי?
    Slikha, ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li?
    “Excuse me, could you possibly help me?”
  • סליחה, אפשר לבקש מִמְּךָ/מִמֵּךְ עזרה?
    Slikha, efshar levakesh mimkha/mimekh ezrah?
    “Excuse me, could I ask you for some help?”
  • סליחה, אפשר לשאול אוֹתְךָ/אוֹתָךְ שאלה?
    Slikha, efshar lish’ol otkha/otakh she’elah?
    “Excuse me, could I ask you a question?”

3. Apologizing

Woman Apologizing

Although obviously something you want to avoid, you may also find yourself in need of apologizing if, say, you jam up the printer or unwittingly take someone’s parking spot. Here are the most common phrases related to saying sorry in Israel, though keep in mind that Israelis aren’t typically very touchy about small stuff.

a. סליחה.
Slikha.
“Sorry.” / “Excuse me.”

b. אני מבקש/מבקשת סליחה.
Ani mevakesh/mevakeshet slikha.
“I have to apologize.”

c. עשיתי טעות.
Asiti ta’ut.
“I made a mistake.”

d. טעות שלי.
Ta’ut sheli.
Mea culpa. / “My bad.”

4. Saying Thank You

This one is pretty straightforward. There are certainly many situations in which you may find yourself wanting to say thank you. Let’s look at a number of constructs using the word תודה (todah), or “thanks.”

a. תודה על + noun
Todah al + noun
“Thanks for” + noun

  • תודה על העזרה.
    Todah al ha-ezrah.
    Thanks for the help.”
  • תודה על הטיפ.
    Todah al ha-tip.
    Thanks for the tip.”

b. תודה ש… + verb
Todah she… + verb
“Thanks for” + verb

  • תודה שעזרת לי.
    Todah she-azart li.
    Thanks for helping me.”
  • תודה שהראית לי איפה לחנות.
    Todah she-herayta li eyfoh likhnot.
    Thanks for showing me where to park.”

*Note the need to conjugate the verb with the correct gender and count here.

You can also intensify your thanks. Here are a few common ways to do so:

c. תודה רבה.
Todah rabah.
“Thank you very much.”

d. המון תודה.
Hamon todah.
“Thanks a ton.”

5. Inviting Coworkers Out After Work

If you’re looking for ways to form positive relationships with your coworkers, you should consider inviting them to join you in after-work activities. In this section, we’ll look at a couple of ways you can do this.

a. בא לְךָ/לָךְ לצאת אחרי העבודה?
Ba lekha/lakh latzet akharey ha-avodah?
“Do you feel like going out after work?”

b. אפשר להזמין אוֹתְךָ/אוֹתָךְ לצאת אחרי העבודה?
Efshar lehazmin otkha/otakh latzet akharey ha-avodah?
“Can I invite you to go out after work?”

3. Sounding Smart in Meetings

Many workplaces have meetings, and you may well be asked to participate in them. Therefore, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with some basic Hebrew for business meetings so you’re prepared to not only speak, but to impress, in such situations. Let’s have a look at a few key phrases that can help you sound smart in meetings.

1. Giving Your Opinion

Woman Speaking at Meeting

Let’s start with some phrases you can use to effectively express your opinions during a meeting.

a. אני חושב/חושבת ש ___.
Ani khoshev/khoshevet she ___.
“I think that ___.”

  • אני חושב שהמספרים לא משקפים את המציאות.
    Ani khoshev she-ha-misparim lo meshakfim et ha-metzi’ut.
    I think that the numbers do not reflect the reality.”
  • אני חושבת שדני צודק.
    Ani khoshevet she-Dani tzodek.
    I think that Danny is right.”

b. לדעתי ___.
Le-da’ati ___.
“In my opinion ___.”

  • לדעתי, אנחנו צריכים להשקיע בציוד חדש.
    Le-da’ati, anakhnu tzrikhim lehashki’a be-tziyud khadsh.
    In my opinion, we need to invest in new equipment.”
  • זה לא יהיה מספיק, לדעתי.
    Zeh lo yihiyeh maspik, le-da’ati.
    “That won’t suffice, in my opinion.”

c. אני סבור/סבורה ש ___.
Ani savur/svurah she ___.
“I am of the opinion that ___.”

  • אני סבורה שאנו מוכנים לפגישה עם הלקוח החדש.
    Ani svurah she-anu mukhanim la-pegishah im ha-lako’akh he-khadash.
    I am of the opinion that we are ready for the meeting with the new client.”
  • אני סבור שהדולר יתחזק.
    Ani savur she-ha-dolar yitkhazek.
    I am of the opinion that the dollar is going to strengthen.”

2. Making Suggestions

While making suggestions is a crucial part of business meeting engagement, in Israeli culture, it’s wise to make a polite suggestion rather than a blunt one; you don’t want to risk sounding too aggressive or condescending.

a. אני מציע/מציעה ש ___.
Ani metzi’a/metzi’ah she ___.
“I suggest that ___.”

  • אני מציעה שננסה מחדש.
    Ani metzi’ah she-nenaseh mekhadash.
    I suggest that we try again.”
  • אני מציע שנחכה עד לרבעון הבא.
    Ani metzi’a she-nekhakeh ad la-riv’on haba.
    I suggest that we wait until next quarter.”

b. הרעיון שלי הוא ___.
Ha-ra’ayon sheli hu ___.
“My idea is ___.”

  • הרעיון שלי הוא למכור רק למדינות אסייתיות בינתיים.
    Ha-ra’ayon sheli hu limkor rak le-medinot Asiyatiot beynatayim.
    My idea is to sell solely to Asian countries at the moment.”

3. Agreeing and Disagreeing

Woman Giving OK Sign

To successfully negotiate in a business meeting, you must know how to express that you agree or disagree with others. Note that in Hebrew, the structure for many opposing forms is the same, save for the absence or presence of the word לא (lo), meaning “no” / “not,” for negation. This is true for the first two phrases here.

a. אני (לא) מסכים/מסכימה.
Ani (lo) maskim/maskimah.
“I agree/disagree.”

  • אני לא מסכים שאנו צריכים מחשבים חדשים.
    Ani lo maskim she-anu tzrikhim makhshevim khadashim.
    I disagree that we need new computers.”
  • אני מסכימה שהגיע הזמן להיות יותר פרואקטיביים.
    Ani maskimah she-higi’a ha-zman lihiyot yoter proaktiviyim.
    I agree that the time has come to be more proactive.”

b. אני (לא) חושב/חושבת כמו ___.
Ani khoshev/khoshevet k’mo ___.
“I am of a like mind with ___.”

  • אני חושב כמו בני.
    Ani khoshev k’mo Beni.
    “I am of a like mind with Benny.”
  • אני חושבת כמו עמיתי לעבודה כאן.
    Ani khoshevet k’mo amiti la-avodah kan.
    “I am of a like mind with my coworker here.”

c. אני חולק/חולקת על דַּעְתְּךָ/דַּעְתֵּךְ.
Ani kholek/kholeket al da’etkha/da’etekh.
“I differ with you.”

*Note that the last form is a bit more formal and emphatic.

4. Responding to Others

To close this category, let’s look at some ways you can politely and professionally open a response to something another person said. These are a bit formal, especially in Israeli society where niceties are not terribly common. Nevertheless, when used correctly, they can effectively get people’s attention and lend an air of seriousness to your comments.

a. בנוגע למה ש ___ אמר/אמרה ___.
Be-noge’a le-mah she___ amar/amrah ___.
“Regarding what ___ said ___.”

  • בנוגע למה ששרון אמרה, אני חושב שיש לחכות קצת לפני שנשיק מוצרים חדשים.
    Be-noge’a le-mah she-Sharon amrah, ani khoshev she-yesh lekhakot ktzat lifney she-nashik motzarim khadashim.
    Regarding what Sharon said, I think we need to wait a bit before launching new products.”
  • בנוגע למה ששמוליק אמר, זה נדמה לי קצת מרחיק לכת.
    Be-noge’a le-mah she-Shmulik amar, zeh nidmeh li ktzat markhik lekhet.
    Regarding what Shmulik said, it strikes me as a bit far-fetched.”

b. הייתי רוֹצֶה/רוֹצָה להגיב למילים של ___.
Hayiti rotzeh/rotzah lehagiv la-d’varim shel ___.
“I would like to respond to ___’s comments.

  • הייתי רוצה להגיב לדברים של רם. אני חושבת שהוא צודק אבל יש עוד כמה נושאים רלוונטיים כאן.
    Hayiti rotzah lehagiv la-d’varim shel Ram. Ani khoshevet she-hu tzodek aval yesh od kamah nos’im relevantiyim kan.
    I would like to respond to Ram’s comments. I think he is right, but there are a few other relevant issues here.”
  • כמנהל המחלקה, הייתי רוצה להגיב לדברים של תומר ומיכל.
    Ke-menahel ha-makhlakah, hayiti rotzeh lehagiv la-d’varim shel Tomer ve-Mikhal.
    “As department head, I would like to respond to Tomer’s and Michal’s comments.”

c. התרשמתי ממה ש ___ אמר/אמרה.
Hitrashamti mi-mah she-amar/amrah ___.
“I was impressed by what ___ said.”

  • התרשמתי ממה שאמר דימה, ואני לגמרי בעד הרעיון שלו.
    Hitrashamti mi-mah she-amar Dimah, va-ani legamrey be’ad ha-ra’ayon shelo.
    I was impressed by what Dimah said, and I am completely in favor of his idea.”
  • למען האמת, די התרשמתי ממה שאסנת אמרה.
    Le-ma’an ha-emet, dey hitrashamti mi-mah she-Osnat amrah.
    “To be honest, I was pretty impressed by what Osnat said.”

4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails

Finally, we’re going to look at Hebrew business words and phrases for handling phone calls and emails, both of which are a part of many jobs. 

1. Business Phone Calls

Woman on Phone

a. Answering the phone

  • שלום, מדבר/מדברת ___.
    Shalom, medaber/medaberet ___.
    “Hello, this is ___ speaking.”
  • שלום, מדבר אלון רוט.
    Shalom, medaber Alon Rot.
    Hello, this is Alon Roth speaking.”
  • שלום, מדברת רוני אזולאי.
    Shalom, medaberet Roni Azulay.
    Hello, this is Roni Azulai speaking.”
  • הִגַּעְתָּ/הִגַּעְתְּ ל ___.
    Higata/Higa’t le/la ___.
    “You have reached ___.”
  • הִגַּעְתָּ למשרד של איתי ריבלין.
    Higata la-misrad shel Itay Rivlin.
    You have reached the office of Itai Rivlin.”
  • הִגַּעְתְּ למעבדת מיקרו-מק.
    Higat le-Ma’abadat Mikro-Mak.
    You have reached Micro Mac Laboratories.”

b. Offering to help

  • במה אוכל לעזור לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Ba-meh ukhal la’azor lekha/lakh?
    “How can I help you?”
  • לאן להעביר את שִׂיחָתְךָ/שִׂיחָתֵךְ?
    Le’an leha’avir et sikhatkha/sikhatekh?
    “How may I direct your call?”

c. Signing off

  • שמחתי לעזור.
    Samakhti la’azor.
    “I was happy to help.”
  • אנחנו נהיה בקשר.
    Anakhnu nihiyeh be-kesher.
    “We will be in touch.”
  • אל תהסס/תהססי להתקשר.
    Al tehases/tehasesi lehitkasher.
    “Don’t hesitate to call.”
  • אנחנו עומדים לְשֵׁרוּתְךָ/לְשֵׁרוּתֵךְ.
    Anakhnu omdim le-sherutkha/sherutekh.
    “We are at your service.”

2. Business Emails

Man Writing Email

The art of writing an effective business email, or any type of letter for that matter, is clearly a topic unto itself. It’s certainly a skillset worth developing, but a bit much to cover in today’s lesson. For today’s discussion, then, let’s limit ourselves to some key words and phrases you can use when drafting business emails.

a. לכל מאן דבעי
Le-khol man dab’i
“To Whom It May Concern”

b. אג”ן (אדון, גברת נכבדים)
AG”N (Adon, Geveret nekhbadim)
“Dear Mr./Mrs.”

c. בתגובה לְבַקָּשָׁתְךָ/לְבַקָּשָׁתֵךְ
Be-teguvah le-vakashatkha/le-vakashatekh
“In response to your request”

d. מצ”ב (מצורף בזה)
MTz”B (Metzoraf ba-zeh)
“Enclosed”

e. בברכה
Bi-vrakhah
“Sincerely”

f. נ”ב (נכתב בצד)
N”B (Nikhtav ba-tzad)
“P.S.”

5. Let HebrewPod101 Get You Ready for Business

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson. It goes without saying that preparing yourself to do business and/or work in a foreign culture is a complex endeavor. However, with some essential vocabulary under your belt, you’ve already got the ball rolling. Practice these phrases, as well as any relevant grammatical or lexical points, and build the confidence you need to succeed working or doing business in Israel.

Is there a related topic we didn’t cover, or are you still unclear about something we did discuss? We at HebrewPod101 love hearing from you so that we can custom-tailor our lessons to your needs. Get in touch today, and let us know how we’re doing! In the meantime, Shalom!

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