Get 40% off with the Now or Never sale. Hurry! Ends soon!
Get 40% off with the Now or Never sale. Hurry! Ends soon! Blog
Learn Hebrew with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Speak Hebrew' Category

The Israeli National Anthem: Ha-Tikvah, “The Hope”


One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a culture is to learn its national anthem. In Israel’s case, the anthem is called התקווה (Ha-Tikvah), which means “The Hope.” Not only will this earn you some street cred next time you’re at a sporting event in Tel Aviv or celebrating יום העצמאות (Yom ha-’Atzma’ut) in Jerusalem, it is a wonderful lens through which to examine modern Israel’s history and dig deep into issues of identity, politics, and ethnolinguistics.

In today’s fascinating lesson, we’re going to take you on a journey through the rise and development of Zionism as a movement, the adoption of Ha-Tikvah as the unofficial hymn of the nascent nation project that was eventually to become the State of Israel, and much more along the way. We’ll talk about the key figures involved in its composition and adoption and, of course, take a look at the actual lyrics and their meaning, both semantically and culturally.

Sheet Music
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Lyrics to Ha-Tikvah, the Israeli National Anthem
  2. Ha-Tikvah’s Beginnings
  3. The Language of Ha-Tikvah
  4. Competition and Controversy Surrounding Ha-Tikvah
  5. How Ha-Tikvah Came to Be Adopted as Israel’s De Facto National Anthem
  6. When Is Ha-Tikvah Sung?
  7. Interesting Trivia about Ha-Tikvah
  8. We at HebrewPod101 Hope You Enjoyed Today’s Lesson!

1. Lyrics to Ha-Tikvah, the Israeli National Anthem

Wailing Wall

First things first! Let’s have a look at the lyrics of Israel’s national anthem, along with transliteration and translation. It is worth noting that the lyrics are part of a longer poem entitled תקוותנו (Tikvateinu), or “Our Hope,” written by the Galician Jew Naftali Herz Imber in response to the establishment of פתח תקווה (Petakh Tikvah, literally “The Gateway to Hope”), the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement in the Holy Land.

Herz Imber originally wrote his nine-stanza poem around 1878, though it was not published until 1886, when it was included in a compilation of Imber Herz’s poems titled ברקאי (Barkai, “Morning Star”) printed in Jerusalem. (Herz Imber had emigrated to Israel in 1882). The poem went through various iterations as it was circulated throughout different communities in the ארץ ישראל (Eretz Yisra’eil). It was ultimately truncated to its first two stanzas, which were set to music by Romanian immigrant to Israel Shmuel Cohen. You can hear the anthem sung below while you look over the lyrics.

עברית (‘Ivrit, “Hebrew”)TransliterationEnglish
כל עוד בלבב פנימה
נפש יהודי הומייה
ולפאתי מזרח קדימה
עין לציון צופיה.

עוד לא אבדה תקוותינו
התקווה בת שנות אלפיים
להיות עם חופשי בארצנו
ארץ ציון וירושלים
Kol od ba’levav penima
Nefesh yehudi homiyah
U’lefa’atei mizrakh kadimah
‘Ayin le-Tziyyon tzofiyah

‘Od lo avda tikvateinu
Ha-tikvah bat shenot alpayim
Lihyot ‘am khofshi be-artzenu
Eretz Tziyyon ve-Yerushalayim
As long as within our hearts
The Jewish soul sings
As long as forward to the East
To Zion, looks the eye

Our hope is not yet lost
It is two thousand years old
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem

2. Ha-Tikvah’s Beginnings

Ancient Map of Israel

As mentioned, the original poem from which Ha-Tikvah emerged was penned by Naftali Herz Imber. Herz Imber started writing poetry at a young age, even winning an award for one from Emperor Franz Josef. An adventurous youth, he set forth from his native Galicia, then under the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and now a part of Ukraine), at age 19, traveling across Europe and the Middle East.

In Turkey, Imber Herz fatefully encountered Sir Laurence Oliphant, a British Member of Parliament who was an ardent supporter of the Zionist movement’s aim to resettle Jews in the Holy Land. Imber Herz accompanied Oliphant and his family to the Holy Land in 1882, living with him in Haifa and the Druze village of Daliyat al-Carmel. Oliphant sent Imber Herz to train as a watchmaker in Beirut, Lebanon, subsequently helping him to open a watch shop in Haifa, but Herz Imber was apparently not one to settle.

He moved to Jerusalem in 1884, where, as mentioned, he published his first collection of poems. This publication gave his poem Tikvateinu wide circulation, as did Imber Herz’s own readings when he visited settlements throughout the Holy Land.

3. The Language of Ha-Tikvah

Biblical Scene

While you may certainly learn or even recognize some words from the lyrics of Ha-Tikvah, it is important to note that its composition predates the true revival of Modern Hebrew as a spoken language. In fact, the first organization dedicated to promoting the use of Hebrew as a lingua franca in the Holy Land, the שפה ברורה (Safah Berurah, “Clear Language”) society, was not founded until 1889, three years subsequent to Tikvateinu’s publication and over a decade after it was originally written.

For this reason, the language employed in the poem from which the anthem’s lyrics are derived is fairly archaic. In fact, most of it is Biblical. Beyond simply emulating the Bible’s style, the original poem actually made numerous references to Biblical passages on themes like hope, salvation, and God. However, revisions and emendations through the years removed most of these, following a secularizing trend that aligned the text with Zionism’s largely secular character.

4. Competition and Controversy Surrounding Ha-Tikvah

Torah Scroll

It is worth mentioning that Ha-Tikvah was not the only text vying for the status of national anthem in Israel’s pre-state years. Apart from Psalm 126, there were some dozen texts in competition as a national anthem for a state still in the making.

Another poem of Imber Herz’s was even among the contenders, as was Chaim Nachman Bialik’s תחזקנה (Tekhezaknah, “Be Strengthened”). Israeli newspapers even weighed in on the respective merits of the two poems! Bialik’s song was widely used as the hymn of Labor Zionism. The marchlike character of the latter, though invigorating in a vein reminiscent of Communist revolutionary hymns, ultimately could not overtake Ha-Tikvah’s emotional impact.

Apart from mere competition, Ha-Tikvah had real detractors. As mentioned previously, the Biblical and specifically religious tone of the original poem did not strike a harmonious chord with Israel’s secular founders. On the opposite side of the spectrum, many religious Zionists felt that only a text taken from the Bible itself was worthy of serving as a national anthem to the fledgling state. Furthermore, the overt Jewishness of Imber Herz’s text found opponents among the hard left, as well as Israel’s non-Jewish communities, such as Muslim and Christian Arabs. Indeed, as late as 1967 (following the Six Day War), leftist Member of Knesset Uri Avnery introduced a bill to replace Ha-Tikvah with Naomi Shemer’s ירושלים של זהב (Yerushalayim shel Zahav, “Jerusalem of Gold”), though the bill never even made it to a vote.

Lastly, in terms of the music itself, Ha-Tikvah saw push back on a number of levels. Firstly, some objected that its music was neither original nor Jewish. The opening melody of the anthem, in fact, is almost identical to Czech composer Bedřich Smetana’s movement Vltava or Die Moldau from his tone poem Má Vlast.

It is, of course, entirely possible that rather than representing piracy, Shmuel Cohen’s tune simply may share a common Central European source with Smetana’s, a phenomenon ethnomusicologists sometimes referred to as a “tune family.” Along these lines, Israel’s first preeminent musicologist, Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, considered the tune to be an ancient “wandering tune” that he identified in various songs from places as far flung as Basque, Poland, and England.

Beyond arguments over Ha-Tikvah’s originality, there were also those who objected the mere fact that the text had been set in a minor key. Such objections seemed to center around the notion that a national anthem, in particular that of a country as hard fought for as Israel, should be uplifting and inspirational rather than gloomy or pained.

5. How Ha-Tikvah Came to Be Adopted as Israel’s De Facto National Anthem

Declaration of Israeli Statehood

Amazingly, Ha-Tikvah was not officially recognized as the anthem of the State of Israel until 2004, though perhaps this is no great surprise coming from a country still without any written constitution. However, Ha-Tikvah has been sung as a Zionist national hymn at least from the Fifth Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1901. It was subsequently sung at the Sixth Zionist Congress two years later, when, with its clear celebration of Jews’ ties to Israel and Jerusalem specifically, it made the perfect reply of rejection to the British offer of Uganda as an alternative national homeland for the Jewish people.

By the Seventh Zionist Congress of 1905, it was confirmed as the unofficial national anthem of the worldwide Zionist movement. It was sung at every subsequent Zionist Congress, as well as at other Zionist functions and functions gatherings across the globe. However, the song did not attain official recognition by the Congress until the 18th Zionist Congress, which also adopted the blue and white banner we know today as Israel’s flag. It was famously sung years later, when statehood was finally declared on May 13, 1948.

The song continually gained popularity, solidifying its singular status as the Zionist rallying song throughout pre-state Israel and the Diaspora in particular during the interwar years. Beyond the beauty of its lyrics, one might attribute this to the sense of solidarity it expresses, linking world Jewry by their ties, however far removed, to a common place and history – and today, to a common present and future.

6. When Is Ha-Tikvah Sung?

Israeli Flag

Ha-Tikvah may be sung at just about any official occasion, such as national holidays, political events, memorial services, graduation ceremonies, and even sports events – much like The Star Spangled Banner. It is not typically sung as part of synagogue prayer services, though it is played at the beginning of classical concerts and other cultural events. Outside, Ha-Tikvah is commonly sung at Zionist events, its lyrics representing so powerfully the eternal connection of Jews the world over to the Land of Israel and its capital, Jerusalem.

7. Interesting Trivia about Ha-Tikvah

Israeli Flag in Speech Bubble

Now that you know all the history surrounding Ha-Tikvah (and, of course, all the words by heart), let’s end on a fun note by taking a look at some trivia related to Israel’s national anthem.

  • Naftali Herz Imber, like so many other luminaries in history, ended up in abject poverty. Having left the Holy Land in 1889 following a dispute with Sir Oliphant, he stayed for periods in England, France, Germany, and even India before arriving in the United States. Never able to achieve stability, Imber Herz died broke in New York City, in 1909, from complications arising from chronic alcoholism. Though buried in Queens, he was ultimately reinterred in Jerusalem in 1953.
  • Some historians credit not Shmuel Cohen but Nissan Belzer with penning the melody for Ha-Tikvah. Then again, as mentioned, many highly similar melodies can be found throughout Europe. Some key examples are the 17th century Italian folksong La Mantovana by Giovanni Del Biado and the Sephardi prayer תפילת טל (Tefillat Tal, “Prayer for Dew”). In any case, Cohen never received a shekel of royalties!
  • The British Mandate government banned the singing of Ha-Tikvah in 1919 in the wake of Arab anti-Zionist riots.
  • Ha-Tikvah was so meaningful to Jews prior to the establishment of the State of Israel that it was sung on numerous occasions by Holocaust inmates even as they marched to the gas chambers. It was also sung in celebration at the liberation of camps like Bergen-Belsen, a song of an eternal dream that did not die even when so many of its dreamers had. You can hear a recording of the latter example here.
  • A 2012 Peace Index poll conducted by Tel Aviv University found that 90% of Israel’s Arab citizens consider Ha-Tikvah “unsuitable” as a national anthem.
  • Some synagogues conclude their יום כיפור (Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement”) services with Ha-Tikvah. Additionally, some Jews include it at the conclusion of the סדר פסח (Seider Pesach, “Passover Seder”).

8. We at HebrewPod101 Hope You Enjoyed Today’s Lesson!

That’s all for today’s lesson. We surely hope you found it informative and interesting. And even if you already knew something about Ha-Tikvah, we’re betting you found at least one or two new facts to take away with you. More than anything, it is our wish that you find our resources useful and enriching, which is why we make sure to mix cultural and historical lessons with our grammar and vocabulary lessons.

Was there anything else you wanted to know about Ha-Tikvah or any of its related history? Would you like a lesson on some other Israeli song or any other aspect of Israeli culture? Let us know! We love hearing from our learners, and we always strive to ensure you stay interested, because an interested student is a motivated one! Reach out today. We’d love to hear from you! Until next time, shalom!

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

HebrewPod101’s Top 30 Classroom Phrases in Hebrew


Many people find themselves in Israel for educational reasons, whether it is to learn Hebrew or anything else. Beyond the fact that it’s home to a number of top-ranking universities on a global scale, Israel is a true melting pot of cultures, drawing visitors, including students, from the four corners of the Earth. Not only does Israel boast a robust choice of study abroad programs, many foreigners studying, working, or living in Israel find that teaching their own native language or some other skill they may know is a great way to make a little spending money.

Whatever the case is as far as you’re concerned, you’re likely here because you expect to find yourself in some sort of classroom setting while in Israel. If that’s true, you’re definitely in the right place. In today’s lesson, we’re going to cover the top 30 Hebrew classroom phrases for teachers and students, regardless of whether they are in the context of Hebrew language learning or any other subject. We’ll talk about classroom greetings, teacher’s instructions, how to ask for clarification from the teacher or fellow students, and explaining tardiness or absences. We will also cover subjects of study as well as common school supplies.

Empty Classroom

Now get your pencils sharpened and your apples polished, and let’s head to class for today’s lesson on useful Hebrew classroom phrases.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Hebrew Classroom Greetings
  2. Common Hebrew Teachers’ Instructions
  3. Asking Teachers and Classmates for Clarification in Hebrew
  4. Explaining Absences and Tardiness in Hebrew
  5. Talking about Academic Subjects in Hebrew
  6. Talking about Common School Supplies in Hebrew
  7. Let HebrewPod101 School You!

1. Hebrew Classroom Greetings

Student Speaking to Teacher

It’s well known that the classroom is one of the best places to make good friends, whether you are taking a Hebrew Ulpan class or an elective at university in a subject near and dear to your heart. These greetings, largely, are the same as the Hebrew words in general Israeli greetings, which you can read more about here. However, to make this context appropriate, we’ve included some examples where one might be greeting a teacher or classmate specifically. Note that in modern Hebrew, there really is no distinction between these two in terms of formality.

1. בוקר טוב / צהריים טובים / ערב טוב
Boker tov / Tzohorayim tovim / ‘Erev tov
“Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening”

*This first group of greetings is obviously time specific, so choose accordingly. Note that in modern Hebrew, we would only use לילה טוב (laylah tov, “good night”) as a farewell, not as a greeting. ערב טוב (‘erev tov, “good evening”) can be used as a greeting any time after dark, or after about 5 PM.

  • בוקר טוב, המורה. מה שלומך?
    Boker tov, ha-moreh/ha-morah. Mah shlomekh?
    Good morning, teacher. How are you?”
  • צהריים טובים, רועי. מה נשמע?
    Tzohorayim tovim, Ro’i. Mah nishmah?
    Good afternoon, Roi. What’s new”
  • ערב טוב, קסניה. עד מחר.
    ‘Erev tov, Kseniyah. ‘Ad makhar.
    “Good evening, Ksenia. Until tomorrow.”

2. שלום
“Hello / Goodbye”

*This highly useful Hebrew word can be used for either hello or goodbye. It simply depends on when you use it which defines if it is a greeting or farewell.

  • שלום, רוני. מה המצב?
    Shalom, Roni. Mah ha-matzav?
    Hello, Roni. What’s up?”
  • שלום, המורה שני. טוב לראות אותך.
    Shalom, ha-Morah Shani. Tov lirot otakh.
    Hello, Teacher/Miss Shani. Good to see you.”

3. להתראות
“Goodbye” (Literally, “See you.”)

  • להתראות, מור. עד השיעור הבא!
  • Lehitra’ot, Mor. ‘Ad ha-shi’ur ha-ba!
  • Goodbye, Mor. Until the next class!”

4. נתראה מחר.
Nitra’eh makhar.
“See you tomorrow”

5. המשך יום נעים.
Hemshekh yom na’im.
“Have a pleasant rest of the day.”

2. Common Hebrew Teachers’ Instructions

Teacher Writing on Board

Now that we’re set greeting teachers and students and bidding them farewell, let’s take a look at another important area of language related to the classroom. Specifically, we’re now going to address the issue of teachers’ instructions. Note that these typically involve basic Hebrew phrases useful in other contexts as well. In the classroom, they may or may not be couched in polite terms, with or without words like “please” or “would you please.” Don’t take the lack of such politeness as intentional rudeness. Remember that Israeli culture is a direct one!

6. בבקשה לפתוח את עמוד … בספרים שלכם.
Bevakashah lifto’akh et ‘amud … ba-sfarim shelakhem.
“Please open to page … in your books.”

  • בבקשה לפתוח את עמוד 187 בספרים שלכם.
    Bevakashah lifto’akh et amud me’ah shemonim ve-shmoneh ba-sfarim shelakhem.
    Please open to page 187 in your books.

7. שימו לב.
Simu lev.
“Listen carefully.” (Literally, “Take heart.”)

  • שימו לב. הקטע הזה חשוב מאוד.
  • Simu lev. Ha-keta’ ha-zeh khashuv me’od.
  • Listen carefully. This part is very important.”

8. שקט בבקשה.
Sheket bevakashah.
“Please be quiet.”

  • שקט בבקשה. אני לא מצליח לשמוע את השאלה.
  • Sheket bevakashah. Ani lo matzli’akh lishmo’a et ha-she’elah.
  • Please be quiet. I can’t hear the question.”

9. יש שאלות?
Yesh she’elot?
“Any questions?”

  • יש שאלות? בכל מקרה תהיה חזרה לפני המבחן.
  • Yesh she’elot? Be-khol mikreh, tihiyeh khazarah lifney ha-mivkhan.
  • Any questions? In any case, there will be a review before the exam.”

10. לא לשכוח את שיעורי הבית.
Lo lishko’akh et shi’urei ha-bayit.
“Don’t forget the homework.”

3. Asking Teachers and Classmates for Clarification in Hebrew

Confused Student

Another important category of classroom phrases for your Hebrew vocabulary is those you might use when asking for clarification. You might ask the teacher to repeat or elaborate on something s/he has just shared with the class. Alternatively, you may be asking a fellow classmate to help you understand some point, lesson, or reading you may be struggling with. Or maybe you just need help with the Hebrew! Whatever the case may be, here is some highly useful language to aid you.

11. לא הבנתי.
Lo hevanti.
“I don’t understand.” (Literally, “I didn’t understand,” or, “I haven’t understood.”)

12. תוכל/י לחזור על זה?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhazor ‘al zeh?
“Can you repeat that?”

13. יש לי שאלה. / יש לי כמה שאלות.
Yesh li she’elah. / Yesh li kamah she’elot.
“I have a question. / I have a few questions.”

14. מה אמר/ה המורה?
Mah amar ha-moreh/amrah ha-morah?
“What did the teacher say?”

15. אפשר לראות את הסיכומים שלך?
Efshar lirot et ha-sikumim shelkha/shelakh?
“Can I see your class notes?”

4. Explaining Absences and Tardiness in Hebrew

Man Rushing

Let’s face it. We all show up late to class sometimes. And at times, we may not show up at all! Whether due to traffic, an illness, or a conflicting commitment, it is bound to happen sometimes. And when it does, you’ll want to be well-prepared with some handy language to offer an explanation or justification. You probably don’t want to interrupt the class to do so, however. As in most of the world, comments to explain tardiness are best made to the teacher one on one and after class has ended. And explanations as to an absence – or an expected tardiness, for that matter – are best made before they happen, in an email if necessary.

16. אני לא מרגיש/ה טוב. לא אוכל להגיע לשיעור היום.
Ani lo margish/ah tov. Lo uchal lehagi’a la-shi’ur hayom.
“I’m not feeling well. I won’t be able to attend class today.”

17. סליחה על האיחור. היו פקקים
Slikha ‘al ha-ikhur. Hayu pekakim.
“Sorry I’m late. There was traffic.”

18. לא עשיתי את שיעורי הבית. ברח לי מהראש.
Lo ‘asiti et shi’urei ha-bayit. Barakh li me-ha-rosh.
“I didn’t do the homework. It slipped my mind.”

19. אפשר להשלים את החומר?
Efshar lehashlim et ha-khomer?
“Can I make up the work?”

20. תהיה חזרה לפני המבחן?
Tihiyeh khazarah lifnei ha-mivkhan?
“Will there be a review before the exam?”

5. Talking about Academic Subjects in Hebrew

Books of Different School Subjects

Now let’s have some useful Hebrew classroom phrases to talk about subjects you like and dislike. To help you refer to the specific subjects relevant to you, we’ve included a list of the most common school subjects. Just be sure to not the grammatical gender of whatever language you use in case you are adding any adjectives, numbers, etc. You can review the issue of grammatical gender in Hebrew here.

“foreign language”safah zarahשפה זרה
“citizenship” (cf. social studies)ezrakhutאזרחות
physical educationkhinukh gufaniחינוך גופני

21. המקצוע האהוב עליי זה …
Ha-miktzo’a ha-ahuv ‘alai zeh …
“… is my favorite subject.”

  • המקצוע האהוב עליי זה תנ”ך.
    Ha-miktzo’a ha-ahuv ‘alai zeh TaNa”KH.
    “Bible is my favorite subject.

22. … הוא/היא החוזקה שלי.
… hu/hi ha-khozka sheli
“… is my forte.”

  • ספרות זה החוזק שלי.
    Sifrut hi ha-khozka sheli.
    “Literature is my forte.

23. אני לא חזק/ה ב…
Ani lo khazak/ah be…
“I’m not too good at…”

  • אני לא חזק במתמטיקה.
    Ani lo khazak be-matematikah.
    I’m not too good at math.”

24. אני קצת חלש/ה ב…
Ani ketzat khalash/ah be…
“I’m a bit weak in / at …”

  • אני קצת חלשה בהיסטוריה.
    Ani ktzat khalasha be-historiyah.
    I’m a bit weak at history.”

25. אני מנסה להשתפר ב…
Ani menaseh/menasah lehishtaper be…
“I’m trying to improve in …”

  • אני מנסה להשתפר בגיאוגרפיה.
    Ani menasah lehishtaper be-ge’ografiyah.
    I’m trying to improve in geography.”

6. Talking about Common School Supplies in Hebrew

School Supplies

Lastly, let’s examine some useful Hebrew phrases for talking about school supplies. Just as in the previous category, we’ve provided a table with a list of common supplies you might find or need in the classroom. Again, be sure to watch the gender of the word or words you use, making sure you conjugate correctly.

“pencil / supply case”kalmarקלמר
“spiral notebook”spiralahספירלה
“plastic mini-folder”nailonitניילונית

26. האם תוכל/י להשאיל לי …?
Ha’im tukhal/tukhli lehash’il li …?
“”Could you lend me a/some …?”

  • האם תוכל/י להשאיל לי עפרון?
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli lehash’il li ‘iparon?
    Could you lend me a pencil?”

27. איבדתי את ה… שלי.
Ibadeti et ha… sheli.
“I lost my…”

  • איבדתי את המחק שלי.
    Ibadeti et ha-makhak sheli.
    I lost my eraser.”

28. אני חייב/ת לקנות …
Ani khayav/khayevet liknot …
“I need to buy …”

  • אני חייבת לקנות מספריים.
    Ani khayav/khayevet liknot misparayim.
    I need to buy scissors.

29. יש לך במקרה …?
Yesh lekha/lakh be-mikreh …?
“Do you by any chance have a/some …?”

  • יש לך במקרה ניילונית?
    Yesh lekha/lakh be-mikreh nailonit?
    Do you by any chance have a plastic mini-folder?

30. הנה … 
Hine …
“Here’s a/some …”

  • הנה סרגל. 
    Hine sargel.
    Here’s a ruler.”

7. Let HebrewPod101 School You!

We hope you found this lesson on Hebrew classroom language edifying, interesting, and fun. We do our best to think about the sorts of phrases, words, and situations likely to be most helpful to our students. That said, there are always things of a personal nature that you may wish to explore. And that’s what we’re here for!

So if there is any language we didn’t cover or anything we did cover, but which you’re still somewhat unclear about or want more information on, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our team of native-speaking Hebrew teachers is always standing by for any questions or comments our students may have, and we’d love to hear from you! Until next time, shalom!

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

An Essential Guide to Hebrew Restaurant Phrases


If you’ve ever been to a typical Israeli restaurant (i.e., not one run by Yotam Ottolenghi), you likely already know that the service is liable to be slow, the waiters brusque, and the ambiance bare bones. However, with the symphony of exotic and seemingly eclectic flavors, you’ll also have learned they more than make up for the wait or your server’s attitude. And, of course, it doesn’t get any more authentic than an Israeli restaurant in Israel! After all, that is where the inspiration for what we now call Israeli cuisine was born. Mix a magical meld of culinary styles brought into the country by so many different immigration waves along with the exquisite, vibrantly colored, incredibly fresh produce, and you’ve got a recipe for something truly special.

Street Food Vendor

This is as true about street food as it is about haute cuisine, if not more so. Indeed, one of the most common topics for discussion (which in Israel means argument) among Israelis is where to get the best hummus or falafel in any given city or region of the country. Such debates seem to spark up at every gathering you attend, but you won’t be able to understand, much less partake in, them unless you know the right phrases in Hebrew! So if you’re a foodie or just a regular old human with a hunger in your belly, you are bound to love what Israeli food has to offer. And since we know you want the full authentic experience, today’s lesson is dedicated to common Hebrew restaurant phrases so you can read and order off a menu, request for the check, ask for change, and more.

But first, what is Israeli food, anyway?

Israeli Salad

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. A Quick Introduction to Israeli Food
  2. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use before You Dine
  3. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use during Your Meal
  4. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use after Dining
  5. At HebrewPod101, There’s Always Something Cooking

1. A Quick Introduction to Israeli Food

Just like everything else in the country, Israeli food is the product of cultural fusion that is part indigenous, part hodgepodge, and part invention. Obviously, the Levant region of which Israel is a part plays a major role in the types of foods typical to Israeli cuisine today. Common dishes include חומוס (khumus, “hummus”), פלאפל (falafel, “falafel”), and קוסקוס (kuskus, “couscous”). Basic ingredients like olive oil and olives, chickpeas, lentils, grains (including wheat, barley, and bulgur), grapes and grape leaves, dates, eggplants, and plenty of other fresh and cooked vegetables are staples of the Israeli kitchen today, not to mention a unique diversity of seeds and spices like nigella and zaatar.


Coinciding with ever increasing immigrant waves from, the palette of ingredients and dishes began to expand in a range of directions along the diverse national and cultural lines of these immigrants.

Among Sephardi Jews, the Iraqis brought with them עמבה (amba), a sauce of pickled green mangoes, vinegar, salt, turmeric, chili, and fenugreek; Turkish and Balkan Jews contributed בורקס (burekas), a puff pastry or filo dough delicacy that can be filled and topped with a broad range of options; while North African Jews imported dishes like שקשוקה (shakshukah), a poached egg stew in a tomato sauce seasoned with olive oil, peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, and paprika.

The contribution of Ashkenazi Jews includes קוגל ירושלמי (kugel yerushalmi), a caramelized noodle pudding; קניידלעך (kneidelakh), what Americans called “matzah (or matzo) ball soup”; and a range of breads and baked goods, most famously חלה (khallah, “challah”), a braided and often eggy loaf or roll that is typically served on שבת (Shabbat) and חגים (khagim, “festivals / holidays”). Jews from Slavic countries brough a whole slew of fish dishes, pickled goods, and soups, while German and Hungarian Jews contributed a range of meat dishes and desserts.


The list could go on and on, especially considering that Israel’s immigrants hail from some 80 countries! And that’s not counting all the modern innovations and fusions. So whether you want a steaming bowl of חמין (khamin, “cholent”), a crunchy סלט ירקות ישראלי (salat yerakot yisra’eli, “Israeli vegetable salad,” or a savory שווארמה (shawarmah), you’re in good hands. The lesson that follows will give you all the Hebrew restaurant vocabulary phrases you need to order and enjoy a meal, schmooze with your mouth full, and complain about the check before leaving a measly tip for the poor service you got.

2. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use before You Dine

Restaurant Booths

It’s always best to start at the beginning when learning Hebrew vocabulary. In this case, let’s begin by looking at some key Hebrew words and phrases in the restaurant for before you dine, such as language for making reservations, specifying the number of people in your party, or asking general questions about a restaurant before you decide to plop down for a nosh.

  1. אפשר להזמין מקום…
    Efshar lehazmin makom…
    “Can I make a reservation…”
  • אפשר להזמין מקום לשניים לשבת, -7 למאי ב-5 בצהריים?
    Efshar lehazmin makom le-shnayim le-Shabat, ha-shvi’i le-Mai be-khamesh ba-tzohorayim?
    Can I make a reservation for two on Saturday, May 7th, at 5pm?”
  1. שולחן ל…, בבקשה.
    Shulkhan le-…, bevakashah.
    “A table for …, please.”
  • שולחן לארבעה, בבקשה.
    Shulkhan le-arba’ah, bevakashah.
    A table for 4, please.”
  1. יש לכם …?
    Yesh lakhem …?
    “Do you have …?”
  • יש לכם שולחן בחוץ?
    Yesh lakhem shulkhan bakhutz?
    Do you have a table outside?”
  • יש לכם תפריט באנגלית?
    Yesh lakhem tafrit be-Anglit?
    Do you have an English menu?”
  1. יש …?
    Yesh …?
    “Is / are there …?”
  • יש פינת עישון?
    Yeish pinat ishun?
    Is there a smoking area?”
  • יש חנייה?
    Yesh khanayah?
    Is there parking?”
  1. כמה זמן נצטרך להמתין?
    Kamah z’man nitztarekh lekhakot?
    “How long of a wait is there?”

3. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use during Your Meal

Waiter with Dishes

Now that you’ve taken your seat, let’s keep out our Hebrew dictionary out and have a look at some of the most useful language for ordering, making requests of the waiter or host/ess, and engaging in Israel’s national sport – complaining! Before we dive in, just note that you would be wise to adjust your expectations a bit as a foreigner.

Chiefly, many restaurants will adhere to the laws of כשרות (kashrut), or Jewish dietary laws, by default, even if they do not cater exclusively to religious customers. This means no mixing of meat or poultry with dairy – not just in a particular dish but in terms of what the restaurant offers as a whole. So, with some exceptions (especially in Tel Aviv), you’re not terribly likely to encounter cheeseburgers, pork, or shellfish on the menu. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump in.

  1. מה המנה הכי …?
    Mah ha-manah ha-khi …?
    “What’s your most … dish?”
  • מה המנה הכי פופולארית?
    Mah ha-manah hakhi popularit?
    What’s your most popular dish?”
  • מה המנה הכי משביעה?
    Mah ha-manah hakhi masbi’ah?
    What’s your most filling dish?”
  • מה המנה הכי דלה בקלוריות?
    Mah ha-manah hakhi dalah be-kaloriyot?
    What’s your most low calorie dish?”
  1. אני אלרגי/ת ל… אפשר לקבל …?
    Ani alergi/t l… Efshar lekabel …?
    “I’m allergic to … Can I get …?”
  • אני אלרגי לאגוזים. אפשר לקבל את סלט הבית בלי אגוזים?
    Ani alergi le-egozim. Efshar lekabel et salat ha-bayit bli egozim?
    I’m allergic to tree nuts. Can I get a house salad without nuts?”
  • אני אלרגית לתותים. אפשר לקבל פרי אחר?
    Ani alergit le-tutim. Efshar lekabel pri akher?
    I’m allergic to strawberries. Can I get some other fruit?”
  1. אפשר עוד …?
    Efshar ‘od …?
    “Can I get some more …?”
  • אפשר עוד כמה מפיות?
    Efshar ‘od kamah mapiyot?
    Can I get some more napkins?”
  • אפשר עוד סלט?
    Efshar ‘od salat?
    Can I get some more salad?”
  • אפשר עוד סט סכו”ם?
    Efshar ‘od set saku”m?
    Can I get some more silverware?”
  1. נתחיל עם …
    Natkhil ‘im…
    “We’ll start with …”
  • נתחיל עם משהו לשתות.
    Natkhil ‘im mashehu lishtot.
    We’ll start with drinks.”
  • נתחיל עם מבחר המנות הראשונות.
    Natkhil ‘im mivkhar ha-manot ha-rishonot.
    We’ll start with the appetizer spread.”
  1. יש לכם …?
    Yesh lachem …?
    “Do you have …?”
  • יש לכם תפריט יינות?
    Yesh lakhem tafrit yeiynot?
    Do you have a wine list?”
  • יש לכם מנות צמחוניות?
    Yesh lakhem manot tzimkhoniyot?
    Do you have any vegetarian options?”
  1. ה… קצת …
    Ha-… ktzat …
    “The … is/are a bit …”
  • המרק קצת מלוח.
    Ha-marak ktzat malu’akh.
    The soup is a bit salty.”
  • הפשטידה קצת קרה.
    Ha-pashtidah ktzat karah.
    The quiche is a bit cold.”

4. Hebrew Restaurant Phrases to Use after Dining

Man Signaling for Check

Your belly is full and your palate delighted. You’ve tasted some incredible flavors that you never even dreamed were possible. Now it’s time for the painful part: paying the check. While we can’t offer you any discounts, we can at least comfort you with the knowledge that the average tip percentages are 12% for decent service, 15% for great service, and 10% for when it’s only so-so.

Tipping is the social norm, though, so unless your server spilled hot soup on your lap or hurled pejoratives at you for mispronouncing ג’חנון (jakhnun, “Jachnun”), היה בנאדם (heyeh benadam, “be a decent person”) and pay up. Here are some highly useful Hebrew phrases for ordering and paying the bill in an Israeli restaurant.

  1. חשבון, בבקשה.
    Kheshbon, bevakashah.
    “Bill, please.”
    *Note that you can also make the international sign for the check by airsigning. Just make sure the waiter is looking your way when you do so, which may require some waiting and possibly some loud coughing or scraping of your chair on the floor to get his/her attention.
  1. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
    Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
    “Do you take credit cards?”
  1. אפשר חשבונות נפרדים?
    Efshar kheshbonot nifradim?
    “Can we pay separately?”
  1. מה יש לכם לקינוח?
    Mah yesh lakhem le-kinu’akh?
    “What do you have for dessert?”
  1. אפשר לקבל עודף?
    Efshar lekabel ‘odef?
    “Can I get some change?”
  1. אפשר לקבל קופסא?
    Efshar lekabel kufsah?
    “Can I get a container?”

5. At HebrewPod101, There’s Always Something Cooking

Boiling Pot

Well, that’s all for today, חברים (khaveirim, “friends”). We hope you found this lesson useful for your next culinary outing in the Holy Land, whether it’s a simple falafel joint, a fancy steak house, or any of the bazillion cafés you can find on seemingly every street in the country. If it’s the latter, by the way, we highly recommend ordering ארוחת הבוקר הישראלית (arukhat ha-bokeir ha-yisra’eilit, “the Israeli breakfast”), a veritable smorgasbord that typically comes with some sort of egg dish, a selection of fresh salads, an assortment of hard and soft cheeses, fresh bread or granola with yogurt, and coffee and/or freshly squeezed juice.

Whatever the case, you’re now armed with the language you need to navigate the ins and outs of eating out in Israel. Did we miss anything phrases in English to Hebrew about food, restaurants, or anything else? Let us know! We are always delighted to hear from our ever-growing community of Hebrew language learners, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time, shalom!

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

The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Hebrew Conversation Skills


If there’s one thing Israelis like to do, it’s talk! We’re called the People of the Book, but it would be just as legitimate to call us the People of the Word, as Jews like language any way we can get it, whether written, spoken, or even sung. Of course, regardless of the culture in question, mastering the art of conversation is a key part of acquiring a new language. But how can one actually go about improving one’s Hebrew conversation skills? And what are the relevant skills that make for good conversation in the first place?

Well, these questions are just what today’s lesson is going to address. Together, we’ll look at both general ways to improve your ability to converse in Hebrew and specific language to focus on for your own personalized linguistic profile. We’ll examine common conversation starters, questions and answers, and even filler words. Finally, we’ll have a look at some basic tips you can use to boost your conversation game.

As we look at these various aspects of Hebrew conversation, along with brief sample conversations as a reference, remember that your Hebrew speaking skills are yours. This means that part of mastering any language is learning how to use it in order to express the person you already are. While it’s definitely necessary to make some linguistic and cultural adjustments to be able to use Hebrew effectively, we hope this lesson will also empower you to really find your own unique voice, even as you translate it into another tongue.

Without further ado, let’s delve into HebrewPod101’s Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Hebrew Conversation Skills.

Two Women Talking and Laughing

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Language Profile
  2. Learn Hebrew Reactions
  3. Learn Hebrew Filler Words
  4. Learn Common Questions and Answers in Hebrew
  5. Learn Conversation Starters
  6. General Tips to Help Improve Your Hebrew Conversation
  7. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Conversation Skills

1. Make Your Own Language Profile

Different Personalities

As we mentioned in the introduction, part of mastering the art of conversation in a foreign language is identifying the language chunks you need to talk about yourself and the things you’re interested in. This notion should be fairly self-explanatory. So many conversations entail talking and answering questions about ourselves that we want to be sure we show up ready to express who we are without hesitation.

While some people even go so far as to prepare a “cheat sheet” with some phrases to talk about themselves, we highly recommend that if you do so, you use it for memorization before you try the language out in a live conversation. Israel is a rather fast-paced society, so needing to pause and refer to a cheat sheet is unlikely to leave much of an impression. Rather, take your time and pick just a few phrases at a time to add to your repertoire, and you should have little to no trouble recalling them when the time comes.

Below are some helpful language elements we hope will get you on your way, along with some contextualized examples of how to use them. Be sure to look up the words you need to describe yourself, including your profession, place of origin, hobbies, etc.

1. שלום, אני…
Shalom, ani…
“Hi, I’m/my name is …”

2. אני מ…
Ani me….
“I’m from …”

3. אני בן / בת …
Ani ben / bat …
“I’m … years old.”

4. אני רווק/ה.
Ani ravak / revakah.
“I’m single.”

5. אני נשוי / נשואה.
Ani nasui / nesu’ah.
“I’m married.”

6. יש לי … ילדים.
Yesh li … yeladim.
“I have … kid(s).”

7. אני …
Ani …
“I’m a …”

8. אני עובד/ת ב…
Ani oved / ovedet be…
“I work in / at …”

9. אני לומד/לומדת … ב….
Ani lomed / lomedet … be/ba…
“I’m studying … at …”

10. אני אוהב / אוהבת …
Ani ohev / ohevet …
“I like/love …”

  • שלום, שמי רמון. אני מקולומביה. אני בן 26. אני רווק. אני מהנדס ואני לומד הנדסה בטכניון. אני אוהב לרקוד סלסה.
    Shalom, ani Ramon. Ani mi-Kolombia. Ani ben ‘esrim ve-shesh. Ani ravak. Ani lomed handasah ba-Tekhniyon. Ani ohev lirkod salsah.
    “Hi, my name is Ramon. I’m from Colombia. I’m 26 years old. I’m single. I’m studying engineering at the Technion. I like salsa dancing.”
  • שלום, שמי שירה. אני מקנדה. אני בת 37. אני נשואה. יש לי שני ילדים. אני אחות. אני עובדת בבי”ס תיכון. אני אוהבת לנגן בגיטרה וכינור.
    Shalom, ani Shirah. Ani bat shloshim ve-sheva’. Ani nesu’ah. Yesh li shnei yeladim. Ani akhot. Ani ‘ovedet be-veit sefer tikhon. Ani ohevet lenagen be-gitarah ve-kinor.
    “Hi, I’m Shira. I’m 37 years old. I’m married. I have two kids. I’m a nurse. I work at a high school. I like to play guitar and violin.”

2. Learn Hebrew Reactions


Apart from being able to convey basic personal information about ourselves, it’s always good to be prepared to respond to anything our conversation partner may throw our way. While there are almost an infinite number of responses you could offer in any given situation, we’ve curated the most common and most useful ones for you here.

Again, this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but we do think these represent reactions that work in a broad variety of situations. We’ve also provided a few examples of how to use them in context.

1. נהדר

  • – שמעת שאנחנו נוסעים לקנדה בשבוע הבא לבקר את המשפחה שלי?
    Shama’ta she-anakhnu nos’im le-Kanadah ba-shavu’a ha-ba levaker et ha-mishpakhah sheli?
    “Did you hear that we’re going to Canada next week to visit my family?”

    – נהדר! נסיעה טובה!
    Nehedar! Nesi’ah tovah!
    “Great! Have a great trip!”
  • – אני חוגג יום-הולדת מחר ואתה מוזמן לבוא למסיבה.
    Ani khogeg yom-huledet makhar ve-atah muzman lavo la-mesibah.
    “It’s my birthday tomorrow, and you’re invited to come to the party.”

    – נהדר! תודה רבה.
    Nehedar! Todah rabah.
    “Great! Thanks a lot.”

2. נכון מאוד.
Nakhon me’od.
“Very true.”

  • – המסעדה הזאת ממש זולה!
    Ha-mis’adah ha-zot mamash zolah!
    “This restaurant is really affordable!”

    – נכון מאוד.
    Nakhon me’od.
    “Very true.”
  • – אני חושבת שמאז שהתחלפה הממשלה, המדינה משתפרת.
    Ani khoshevet she-me’az she-hitkhalfa ha-memshalah, ha-medinah mishtaperet.
    “I think that since the government has changed, the country has been improving.”

    – נכון מאוד.
    Nakhon me’od.
    “Very true.”

3. אתה צודק / את צודקת.
Atah tzodek / At tzodeket.
“You’re right.”

  • – סליחה, אבל חסר לי כאן עודף.
    S’likhah, aval khaser li kan ‘odef.
    “Sorry, but I’m missing some change here.”

    – את צודקת. הנה.
    At tzodeket. hine.
    “You’re right. Here you go.”
  • – אולי אני טועה, אבל נדמה לי שהחנייה כאן היא תת-קרקעית.
    Ulai ani to’eh, aval nidmeh li she-ha-khanayah kan hi tat-karka’it.
    “I may be wrong, but I think the parking here is underground.”

    – אתה צודק. בוא נרד למטה.
    Atah tzodek. Bo nered lemata.
    “You’re right. Let’s head down.”

4. מעניין.

  • – שמעת שיש כבר טיסות בין ישראל לאיחוד האמירויות?
    Shama’t she-yesh kvar tisot bein Yisrae’il le-Ikhud ha-Amiruyot?
    “Have you heard that there are already flights between Israel and the UAE?”

    – מעניין. בא לי לנסוע.
    Me’anyen. Ba li linso’a.
    “Interesting. I’d like to go.”
  • – למדתי סיף מאבא שלי, שבזמנו היה סייף אולימפי.
    Lamadeti sa’if me-Abba sheli, she-be-zmano hayah sayyaf Olimpi.
    “I learned fencing from my father, who used to be an Olympic fencer.”

    – מעניין. לא ידעתי.
    Me’anyen. Lo yada’ti.
    “Interesting. I didn’t know that.”

5. מה אתה אומר / את אומרת?
Mah atah omer / Mah at omeret?
“You don’t say.”

  • – אומרים שהמגפה התחילה עם עטלפים בסין.
    Omrim she-ha-magefah hitkhilah im ’ataleifim be-Sin.
    “They say the pandemic started with bats in China.”

    – מה את אומרת? לא להאמין.
    Mah at omeret? Loleha’amin.
    “You don’t say. It’s hard to believe.”
  • – אחות שלי מתכוננת למרתון בניו יורק כבר שנה וחצי.
    Akhot sheli mitkonenet la-Maraton be-Nyu York kvar shanah va-khetzi.
    “My sister has been training for the New York Marathon for a year and a half already.”

    – מה אתה אומר? שיהיה לה בהצלחה!
    Mah atah omer? She-yihiyeh la be-hatzlakhah!
    “You don’t say. Good luck to her!”

3. Learn Hebrew Filler Words

Woman Deep in Thought

Filler words, sometimes also known as crutch words, are a great way to show interest in a conversation without putting yourself on the spot to say more than you can handle. Alternatively, they can be a great way to buy a bit of time as you plan the next thing you’re going to say. Here are a few of the most common Hebrew filler words. You can find more here.

1. אממ…

  • – אז מה בא לך לאכול?
    Az mah bah lakh le’ekhol?
    “So what do you feel like eating?”

    – בא לי, אממ, שווארמה בלאפה.
    Ba li, emm, shawarmah be-lafah.
    “I feel like, um, shawarma in lafa bread.”
  • – איך קוראים לזמרת הזאת?
    Eikh korim la-zameret ha-zot?
    “What’s this singer’s name?”

    – אני חושב שזאת דואה, אממ, דואה ליפה. 
    Ani khoshev she-zot Du’ah, emm, Du’ah Lipah.
    “I think that’s Dua, um, Dua Lipa.”

2. כאילו

  • – למה אתה לא אוהב לשתות קפה?
    Lamah atah lo ohev lishtot kafeh?
    “Why don’t you like drinking coffee?”

    – לא יודע. זה כאילו ממריץ אותי יותר מדי.
    Lo yode’a. Zeh ke’ilu mamritz oti yoteir midai.
    “I dunno. It, like, gets me too worked up.”
  • – מה אמרו לך בראיון?
    Mah amru lakh ba-re’ayon?
    “What did they tell you in the interview?”

    – לא תאמיני אבל ביטלו אותו, כאילו, בלי להודיע לי!
    Lo ta’amini aval bitlu oto, ke’ilu, beli lehodi’a li.
    “You won’t believe it, but they cancelled it, like, without letting me know.”

3. יעני
“I mean”

  • – מה תרצה לאכול?
    Mah tirzeh le’ekhol?
    “What would you like to eat?”

    – ארוחת בוקר קלאסית, יעני, ביצים, טוסט, גבינה.
    Arukhat boker klasit, ya’ani, beitzim, tost, gvinah.
    “Bring me a classic breakfast, I mean, eggs, toast, cheese.”
  • – אני לא בטוחה שהבנתי את הכוונה שלך.
    Ani lo betukhah she-hevanti et ha-kavanah shelkha.
    “I’m not sure I understood what you meant.”

    – אני עייף מכל העבודה, יעני, מותש.
    Ani ‘ayeif mi-kol ha-’avodah, ya’ani, mutash.
    “I’m tired from all the work, I mean, exhausted.”

4. בצעם
“Essentially / Basically”

  • – מה זה הדבר הזה?
    Mah zeh ha-davar ha-zeh?
    “What is that thing?”

    – זה בעצם רובוט שמנקה לך את הרצפה.
    Zeh be-’etzem robot she-menakeh lekha et ha-ritzpah.
    “It’s essentially a robot that cleans the floor for you.”
  • – במה אתה עובד?
    Be-mah atah ‘oved?
    “What do you do for a living?”

    – אני בעצם מתאם בין קונים ומוכרים של ציוד משרדי.
    Ani be-etzem meta’em bein konim ve-mokhrim shel tziyud misradi.
    “I basically broker between buyers and sellers of office equipment.”

5. אז

  • – אז… נוסעים לים?
    Az… nos’im la-yam?
    “So… should we go to the beach?”

    – יאללה, בוא.
    Yallah, bo.
    “Let’s go.”
  • – אני רואה שאתה מקבל את ההודעות שלי ולא עונה, אז…
    Ani ro’ah she-atah mekabell et ha-hoda’ot sheli ve-lo ‘oneh, az…
    “I see you’re getting my messages and not answering them, so…

    – אז כלום. סתם לא ראיתי אותם.
    Az klum. Stam lo ra’iti otam.
    “So nothing. I just didn’t see them.”

4. Learn Common Questions and Answers in Hebrew

Question Marks and Lightbulb

As you surely know, and as you can clearly see from our examples, so much of conversation revolves around questions and answers. While it would be impractical if not impossible to try to prepare oneself to answer any question, it’s fairly easy to identify the more common questions one is likely to find oneself fielding. This is especially true if one is a foreigner sojourning in a distant land!

With that in mind, here are the top questions, with some sample answers, that you’re likely to encounter as a foreigner in Israel. One you’ve got these down, try expanding on them by anticipating the sorts of follow-up questions you might get in a typical conversation, along with some good answers to offer. For example, if you tell someone that you’re working or studying in Israel, it’s reasonable to assume they may ask you how long you’ve been there. You can find more on questions and answers in Hebrew here.

1. מאיפה אתה / את?
Me-eifoh atah / at?
“Where are you from?”

(You can find a list of country names in Hebrew here.)

  • אני מצרפת.
    Ani mi-Tzarfat.
    “I’m from France.
  • אני מלונדון.
    Ani mi-London.
    “I’m from London.”
  • אני ממקסיקו.
    Ani mi-Meksiko.
    “I’m from Mexico.”
  • אני מרוסיה.
    Ani mi-Rusiyah.
    “I’m from Russia.”

2. מה שלומך?
Mah shlomkha / shlomekh?
“How are you?”

(You can find more possible responses here.)

  • אני בסדר.
    Ani beseder.
    “I’m okay.”
  • אני מעולה.
    Ani me’uleh / me’ulah.
    “I’m great.”
  • אני על הפנים.
    Ani ‘al ha-panim.
    “I’m awful.”

3. איך למדת עברית?
Eikh lamadeta / lamadet ‘Ivrit?
“How did you learn Hebrew?”

  • למדתי עברית בביה”ס.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit be-veit ha-seifer.
    “I learned Hebrew at school.”
  • למדתי עברית באוניברסיטה.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit ba-universitah.
    “I learned Hebrew at university / in college.”
  • למדתי עברית בבית.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit ba-bayit.
    “I learned Hebrew at home.”
  • למדתי עברית לבד.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit levad.
    “I learned Hebrew on my own.”

4. למה אתה לומד / את לומדת עברית?
Lamah atah lomed / at lomedet ‘Ivrit?
“Why are you studying Hebrew?”

  • אני לומד עברית מתוך ציונות.
    Ani lomed ‘Ivrit mitokh Tziyonut.
    “I’m studying Hebrew out of Zionism.”
  • אני לומד עברית בשביל הלימודים / לעשות עסקים.
    Ani lomeid ‘Ivrit bishvil ha-limudim / la’asot le-’asakim.
    “I’m studying Hebrew for school / business.”
  • אני לומדת עברית כי יש לי הרבה חברים ישראלים.
    Ani lomedet ‘Ivrit ki yesh li harbeh khaverim Yisra’elim.
    “I’m studying Hebrew because I have a lot of Israeli friends.”
  • אני לומדת עברית בגלל שבעלי ישראלי.
    Ani lomedet ‘Ivrit biglal she-ba’ali Yisra’eli.
    “I’m studying Hebrew because my husband is Israeli.”
  • אני לומד עברית כדי לקרוא את התנ”ך בשפת המקור.
    Ani lomed ‘Ivrit kedei likro et ha-TaNa”Kh bi-sfat ha-makor.
    “I’m studying Hebrew in order to read the Bible in the original language.”

5. מה אתה / את עושה בארץ?
Mah ata oseh / at osah ba-Aretz?
“What are you doing in Israel?”

  • אני לומד/ת.
    Ani lomed / lomedet.
    “I’m studying.”
  • אני עובד/ת.
    Ani ‘oved / ‘ovedet.
    “I’m working.”
  • אני מטייל/ת.
    Ani metayel / metayelet.
    “I’m traveling.”
  • אני מבקר/ת אצל משפחה / חברים.
    Ani mevaker / mevakeret etzel mishpakhah / khaverim.
    “I’m visiting family / friends.”
  • אני סופג/ת קצת תרבות.
    Ani sofeg / sofeget k’tzat tarbut.
    “I’m soaking up some culture.”

5. Learn Conversation Starters


Sometimes the hardest part of a conversation is getting one started. The truth is that while this can be universally true, it’s doubly so when the language you wish to converse in isn’t your native one. With that in mind, here are some tried and true ways you can start up a conversation in different situations.

Keep in mind that not all of these will work all the time. For example, asking two passengers on a bus sitting next to one another how they met may not yield the best results. But if you meet the girl of your dreams at a party moments before her boyfriend sidles up, the same question might just help you save face! So use these judiciously.

1. איך הכרתם? / איך אתם מכירים?
Eikh hikartem? / Eikh atem makirim?
“How did you meet? / How do you know each other?”

2. מה אתה אוכל/שותה / את אוכלת/שותה?
Mah atah okhel/shoteh? / Mah at okhelet/shotah?
“What are you eating/drinking?”

3. כמה זמן לקח לך להגיע?
Kamah zman lakakh lekha/lakh lehagi’a?
“How long did it take you to get here?”

4. במה אתה עובד / את עובדת?
Be-mah atah oved / at ovedet?
“What do you do for a living?”

5. בא לך משהו לאכול/לשתות?
Ba lekha/lakh mashehu le’ekhol/lishtot?
“Would you like something to eat/drink?”

6. אתה בא / את באה לכאן הרבה?
Atah ba / At ba’ah le-khan harbeh?
“Do you come here a lot?”

7. את/ה יודע/ת מה השעה?
At/ah yoda’at/yode’a ma ha-sha’ah?
“Do you have the time?”

8. איזה מזג אוויר, אה?
Eizeh mezeg avir, ah?
“Some weather, huh?”

9. אני מכיר/ה אותך מאיפשהו?
Ani mekir / mekirah otkha / otakh mi-eifohshehu?
“Do I know you from somewhere?”

10. מישהו יושב כאן?
Mishehu yoshev kan?
“Is anyone sitting here?”

6. General Tips to Help Improve Your Hebrew Conversation

Lastly, here are a handful of choice tips to help you take your conversation game to the next level. Alongside studying the relevant language, these tips can set you up for success as you become the great Hebrew conversationalist you were surely meant to be. And we here at HebrewPod101 know you’ve got it in you! As a bonus, these tips can also help you improve your conversation in English and/or any other language you speak, assuming the linguistic culture isn’t drastically different (for instance, if eye contact is considered offensive).

That having been said, just as with any other art, the key to mastering the art of conversation lies in the hours you spend practicing. But the good news is that, as long as your conversation partner has something interesting to share – and who doesn’t? – conversation is not just an art but a very enjoyable pastime, as well! So go on and have some fun!

1. Active listening and mirroring

Mouth and Ear

Active listening means you are fully engaged in the conversation. You can show this by mirroring the other person’s language and non-verbal gestures, as well as by responding at regular intervals to keep the conversation flowing. Note that this is where filler words can really come in handy. Whatever you do, try to avoid those awkward silences, as they are just as awkward in Hebrew as they are in English!

2. Demonstrate understanding and empathy

Woman Hugging Child

No one enjoys speaking to someone who seems to just be waiting for every opportunity to turn the focus back to him- or herself. Not only is this rude, but it also turns a conversation into a monologue. Really listen to the other person, and show them that you are listening by reacting directly to things they’ve said, asking follow-up questions, and referring back to things mentioned previously in the conversation. In short, show that you actually care about what they’re telling you!

3. Focus on using the right gender

Gender Symbols

This one is obviously less relevant to non-gendered languages like English, but it’s key in Hebrew’s case. Gender may be a bit stressful to have to keep in mind, particularly if you are new to grammatically gendered languages. But think about how uncomfortable it is when people are referred to in a gender they don’t identify with, and you’ll quickly comprehend why it behooves you to pay attention to this. Remember that Hebrew genders are not just nouns and pronouns but also adjectives and verbs.

4. Invest in your pronunciation

Pronunciation Lesson

Practice the sounds of the Hebrew language, which you can find more on here. There are a number of sounds in Hebrew that will be foreign to English speakers in particular, and you may never really nail them perfectly. However, you can always approximate, and close is much better than making no effort at all! Trust us when we tell you that Israelis are both aware of the challenges Hebrew poses for non-native speakers and appreciative when non-native speakers make a conscious effort to improve their pronunciation.

5. Avoid over reliance on filler words

Bored Man

Remember when we said that filler words are also sometimes called crutches? This is true in cases of overreliance on them, and that’s something you want to avoid. We’ve all met that person who uses a particular word or phrase, often “like” or “you know,” and we all know just how tiring that can become. Overusing such words, which don’t typically convey any meaning, does not make a good impression, as it suggests a scattered focus or even a lack of something to say. So yes, use fillers, but, emm, in moderation!

6. Ask for words if you don’t know them

Man with Questioning Look

While in some cultures, people may be reluctant to admit when they don’t know something, it’s highly unlikely that any Israeli is going to look down on you if you admit to not knowing the right word for what you want to say. On the contrary, most will be happy to have the opportunity to help you! Remember that Israel is a country of immigrants, so all Israelis are experienced in speaking to foreigners, no matter how rough, or even non-existent their Hebrew may be. By asking an Israeli for the right Hebrew word for what you want to say, you will more likely than not impress them with your commitment to precision and your desire to learn.

7. Smile!

Okay, maybe not all the time. After all, sometimes the bus doesn’t even stop for you, or the babushka lady runs over your foot with her cart as you’re trying to get on board, so a frown is sometimes warranted. But a smile can go a long way in conveying what you may not yet be able to say in Hebrew. In any case, it’s a universal sign that means you’re happy to be talking to your conversation partner, so why not just flash one and see what happens?

7. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Conversation Skills

Last but not least, HebrewPod101 offers you a wide variety of tools and other resources to help you boost your powers of gab. Aside from our many blogs on all things Hebrew, you can also listen to many sample conversations where you can experience what Hebrew words, phrases, and grammar points in context and with native pronunciation. Additionally, you can take advantage of HebrewPod101’s vocabulary lists that can arm you with a more robust lexicon for a given topic or situation.

And if you really want to take your Hebrew conversation skills to the next level, you can also avail yourself of a personal teacher through our Premium PLUS offer. We at HebrewPod101 are here to help! Our expert and native teachers would love to hear from you with any questions or comments you may have, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time, shalom!

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

The Top 35 Hebrew Conversation Starters for Any Occasion


Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by another force. This would seem to apply to conversations, especially with strangers or new acquaintances, and particularly when you are trying to strike up a conversation in a language other than your mother tongue. But fear not! We here at HebrewPod101 have curated the top 35 conversation starters in Hebrew to help you get things rolling.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. First Impressions Count – So Make Your Conversation Count!
  2. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing
  3. Conversation Starters for Your First Day at School or Work
  4. Conversation Starters for a First Date
  5. Bonus: Helpful Language for Starting Up a Text or Email Conversation
  6. HebrewPod101 Is Here to Help You Get Things Rolling…and Keep Them Rolling!

1. First Impressions Count – So Make Your Conversation Count!

Group Conversation with Friends

Whether you’ve just met someone at a party, are trying to make small talk with the passenger seated beside you on a long bus ride, or are trying to leave a good impression on your first day of school or work, you always want to leave as positive an impression as possible (unless, perhaps, you’re trying to blow someone off!). Therefore, it’s a great idea to be comfortable greasing the wheels, so to speak, with some easy Hebrew conversation starters that will be sure to get things flowing.

No matter what situation you may find yourself in, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a compilation of basic Hebrew conversation starters, including both for conversing the old-fashioned way as well as for texts and emails. We’ve included language that will help you deal with new social scenes, such as parties or other events involving mingling, helpful language for first days in a new school or work setting, romantic conversation starters for a first date, and even some starters for emails and texts.

It may go without saying, but we can’t emphasize enough that to really be sure your Hebrew flows, you’ll need to be well equipped for whatever direction these conversations may take. As essential as it is to know how to get the ball rolling, it isn’t of much use knowing how to start a conversation if you can’t sustain it. With this in mind, apart from practicing the language presented in this lesson, it’s also a great idea to spend time on the grammar points and vocabulary relevant to the setting you’ll be in.

Make use of HebrewPod101’s vast library of lessons to find exactly what you need so you’re ready to face any conversational challenges that come your way!

2. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing

Party with Friends

One of the most outstanding features of Israeli culture is that Israelis are quite gregarious. Indeed, don’t be surprised if you find yourself invited to social events frequently, even if you’ve only just met someone for the first time. Every society obviously has some general rules for making a good first impression when you find yourself in a new social milieu, and Israel is no different.

Obviously, you want to converse, meaning you should try to talk in a way that invites the other party to engage. You can do this by asking questions to get to know the other people around you and follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. This helps to show you are interested and paying attention.

So why not show up to your next Israeli meet-and-greet with some well turned phrases and questions honed and ready to go, so that you can be the one to impress everyone and get the conversation flowing? Here are our top conversation starters for mingling and socializing. Note how the words change depending on whether you are addressing a male or female.

1. איך הכרתם? / איך אתם מכירים?
Eikh hikartem? / Eikh atem makirim?
“How did you meet? / How do you know each other?”

2. מה אתה אוכל/שותה / את אוכלת/שותה?
Mah atah okheil/shoteh? / Mah at okhelet/shotah?
“What are you eating/drinking?”

3. כמה זמן לקח לך להגיע?
Kamah zman lakakh lekha/lakh lehagi’a?
“How long did it take you to get here?”

4. במה אתה עובד / את עובדת?
Be-mah atah oved / at ovedet?
“What do you do for a living?”

5. בא לך משהו לאכול/לשתות?
Ba lekha/lakh mashehu le’ekhol/lishtot?
“Would you like something to eat/drink?”

Colleagues Having Lunch

6. אתה גר / את גרה קרוב?
Atah gar / at garah karov?
“Do you live nearby?”

7. יש לך חיות מחמד?
Yesh lekha / lakh khayot makhmad?
“Do you have any pets?”

8. מה למדת באוניברסיטה?
Mah lamadeta / lamadet ba-universitah?
“What did you study at university?”

9. יש לך תחביבים?
Yesh lekha / lakh takhbivim?
“Do you have any hobbies?”

10. איפה שירתת בצבא?
Eifoh shirateta / shiratet ba-tzava?
“Where did you serve in the army?”

*Note that this last one is common in Israel, as military service is obligatory for males and females.

3. Conversation Starters for Your First Day at School or Work


Just as important as your first impressions in social settings is getting things started on the right foot when you begin a new job or enroll in school. It is immensely important to put your best foot forward in these situations, so once again, you’ll want to be armed with some solid go-to phrases and questions you can draw on to strike up a conversation with your new work- or classmates, and to keep the conversation going.

Something to note is that even Israeli culture has somewhat less of a range in terms of register. This means that Israelis tend to be less formal than their counterparts from other countries in situations where formality may be expected. That having been said, gauge your surroundings and the people with you, and make every effort to adjust your register accordingly. Now, without further ado, here are the top conversation starters for school and work.

11. שלום, קוראים לי … איך קוראים לך?
Shalom, korim li … Eikh korim lekha / lakh?
“Hi, I’m … What’s your name?”

  • שלום, קוראים לי ריקי. איך קוראים לך?
    Shalom, korim li Riki. Eikh korim lakh?
    “Hi, I’m Ricky. What’s your name?”

12. סליחה, אני חדש / חדשה כאן ולא ממש מתמצא / מתמצאת. האם תוכל / תוכלי להגיד לי איפה ה…?
Slikhah, ani khadash / khadashah kan ve-lo mamash mitmatze / mitmatzet. Ha’im tukhal / tukhli lehagid li eifoh ha…?
“Sorry, I’m new here and don’t really know my way around. Could you tell me where the … is/are?”

  •  סליחה, אני חדשה כאן ולא ממש מתמצאת. האם תוכל להגיד לי איפה המדפסת?
    Slikhah, ani khadashah kan ve-lo mamash mitmatzet. Ha’im tukhal lehagid li eifoh ha-madpeset?
    “Sorry, I’m new here and don’t really know my way around. Could you tell me where the printer is?”

13. אפשר להצטרף אליך לארוחת צהריים?
Efshar lehitztaref elekha / elaikh le-arukhat tzohorayim?
“Can I join you for lunch?”

14. כמה זמן אתה לומד/עובד / את לומדת/עובדת כאן?
Kamah zman atah lomed/’oved / at lomedet/ovedet kan?
“How long have you been working/studying here?”

15. אהבתי את ה… שלך. איפה קנית אותו?
Ahavti et ha… shelkha / shelakh. Eifoh kanita / kanit oto?
“I like your … Where did you buy it?”

Group of Friends Studying
  •  אהבתי את הצעיף שלך. איפה קנית אותו?
    Ahavti et ha-tza’if shelakh. Eifoh kanit oto?
    “I like your scarf. Where did you buy it?”

16. בא לך להיפגש אחרי העבודה/השיעור?
Bah lekha / lakh lehipagesh akharei ha-‘avodah/ha-shi’ur?
“Would you like to get together after work/class?”

17. אתה יכול / את יכולה אולי לעזור לי עם …?
Atah yakhol / At yekholah ulai la’azor li ‘im…
“Might you be able to help me with…?”

  • אתה יכול אולי לעזור לי עם הפקס הזה?
    Atah yakhol ulai la’azor li ‘im ha-faks ha-zeh.
    “Might you be able to help me with this fax?”

18. אמרו לי שאתה יודע / שאת יודעת איך …
Amru li she-atah yode’a / she-at yoda’at eikh …
“I was told you know how to …”

  • אמרו לי שאת יודעת איך לחייג לחו”ל.
    Amru li she-atah yode’a eikh lekhai’eg le-khu”l.
    “I was told you know how to place an international call.”

19. אני הולך להכין לי … בא לך גם?
Ani holekh lehakin li … Ba lekha / lakh gam?
“I’m going to make myself … Would you like some, as well?”

  • אני הולך להכין לי כוס תה. בא לך גם?
    Ani holekh lehakin li kos teh. Ba lekha gam?
    “I’m going to make myself a cup of tea. Would you like some, as well?”

20. איפה אני מוצא / מוצאת את ה…?
Eifoh ani motze / motzet et ha…?
“Where might I find the …?”

  • איפה אני מוצאת את השירותים?
    Eifoh ani motzet et ha-sherutim?
    “Where might I find the bathroom?”

4. Conversation Starters for a First Date

Couple Having Dinner Date

While we at HebrewPod101 can’t claim to be world experts on romance, we do know that there’s nothing quite like burgeoning love to put butterflies in your heart and a lump in your throat. And one thing is for sure. As nervous as you may be on a first date, or even at the prospect of mustering up the courage to ask for one, practicing the right language for the moment can give you a bit of a confidence boost just where you need one.

Of course, each of us is different, and what may strike one person as a compliment can give offense to another. Therefore, use the language below with discretion, as matters of the heart are the trickiest of them all! And don’t be afraid to mention that you are still learning Hebrew, although we don’t recommend repeating it over and over, either. Just do your best, and that’s what will shine through. Don’t forget that many a couple has been forged around language learning, and much language learning seems to center around romance! Indeed, we think romance is one of the greatest motivators for learning language you’re likely to find!

21. אתה נראה / את נראית מדהימה!
Atah nir’eh / At nir’et madhimah!
“You look great!”

22. טוב לראות אותך.
Tov lir’ot otkha / otakh.
“It’s good to see you.”

23. איפה גדלת?
Eifoh gadalta / gadalt?
“Where did you grow up?”

24. יש לך אחים?
Yesh lekha / lakh akhim?
“Do you have any siblings?”

25. איזה סוג של מוסיקה אתה שומע / את שומעת?
Eizeh sug shel muzikah atah shome’a / at shoma’at?
“What kind of music do you listen to?”

26. מה הסרט האהוב עליך?
Mah ha-seret ha-ahuv ‘alekha ‘alayikh?
“What’s your favorite movie?”

27. מה האוכל שאתה הכי אוהב / שאת הכי אוהבת?
Mah ha-okhel she-atah ha-khi ohev / she-at ha-khi ohevet?
“What’s your favorite food?”

Man and Woman Having Coffee

28. מה אתה אוהב / את אוהבת לעשות בשעות הפנאי שלך?
Mah atah ohev / at ohevet la’asot be-she’ot ha-pnai shelkha / shelakh?
“What do you like to do in your free time?”

29. אתה אוהב / את אוהבת לטייל?
Atah ohev / At ohevet letayel?
“Do you like to travel?”

30. אפשר להזמין אותך ל …?
Efshar lehazmin otkha / otakh le…?
“Can I invite you (out) for a …?”

  • אפשר להזמין אותך לבירה?
    Efshar lehazmin otkha le-birah?
    “Can I invite you out for a beer?”

5. Bonus: Helpful Language for Starting Up a Text or Email Conversation


Lastly, let’s take a look at some language you can use to send off a text or email. These are obviously a bit different, as you will have neither the benefit nor the potential challenge of immediate feedback from your co-conversationalist. In any case, many language learners do find it somewhat more comfortable to write a message, as they have time to draft, revise, and rethink it before it reaches the intended person.

We recommend practicing your Hebrew via both productive skills, spoken and written, as they are complementary skills. This means that when you strengthen one, you will also find you come out stronger in the other. So go ahead and text that colleague from work or that guy or girl you met at the party last weekend. Here are the top five conversation starters for emails and texts.

31. מה התוכניות לסופ”ש?
Mah ha-tokhniyot la-sofa”sh?
“What are your plans for the weekend?”

32. מזמן לא דיברנו. שלח / שלחי הודעה כשתוכל/כשתוכלי.
Mizman lo dibarnu. Shlakh / Shilkhi hoda’ah keshe-tukhal/tukhli.
“Long time no speak. Send me a message when you can.”

Text Messages

33. אני חייב / חייבת לספר לך על משהו הזוי שקרה לי. מתי נפגשים?
Ani khayav / khayevet lesaper lekha ‘al mashehu hazui she-karah li. Matai nifgashim?
“I have to tell you something crazy that happened to me. When can we get together?”

34. אני חייב / חייבת את העזרה שלך! איזה אחד נראה לך יותר טוב?
Ani khayav /khayevet et ha-‘ezrah shelkha / shelakh! Eizeh ekhad nireh lekha / lakh yoter tov?
“I need help! Which of these looks better to you?”

35. בא לך לשמוע בדיחה?
Ba lekha / lakh lishmo’a b’dikhah?
“Want to hear a joke?”

6. HebrewPod101 Is Here to Help You Get Things Rolling…and Keep Them Rolling!

Well, there you have it. We hope you’ve found today’s lesson stimulating and useful. As you surely know, there is, in fact, no perfect formula for starting up a great conversation, nor are there any guarantees that the person you’re talking to will follow your lead. However, when you come to a situation equipped with the relevant language and can apply it with fluency, you are far more likely to find a willing conversation partner on the other side of the table.

As always, our recommendation is not to try to soak up every single phrase here all at once but rather to focus on digestible chunks of language, a bit at a time. And it’s crucial you go over these not just once but rather periodically revisit them and practice them at intervals so you can be sure they get stored in your deep memory.

If you have any questions about the language presented in today’s lesson or want to know more about how to strike up a nice Hebrew conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our professional staff of Hebrew teachers would be happy to hear from you and to help you however we can. Until next time, shalom!

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

The Top 40 Intermediate Hebrew Phrases


As you progress from a beginner to an intermediate level of Hebrew, you’ll no doubt want to expand your vocabulary so you can both understand and express more language. While anything that adds words to your repertoire is welcome, studying contextualized language based on its function or the circumstances in which it’s generally used can be greatly helpful to language students.

Rather than randomly choosing words out of the dictionary or from the pages of a newspaper or book, we here at have put together a handy list of the top forty intermediate Hebrew phrases, grouped together by category: phrases for speaking about the past, phrases for making recommendations and complaints, phrases for reacting during a conversation, and more. We’ve also included examples of how to use these phrases in realistic contexts.

While forty may not sound like a huge number, we do recommend studying these phrases in chunks. The simplest way to do so is by category, but you could organize them differently if you feel so inclined. The key is not to overwhelm yourself and to commit to periodic reviews of the new words and phrases you acquire; this will ensure long-term retention and rapid recall.

Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the top forty Hebrew phrases at the intermediate level.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Giving Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Everyday Reactions
  6. General Etiquette
  7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

1. Talking About Past Events

Cave Paintings

Did you know that human language contains a unique feature not found in animal communication systems? This feature is called “displacement,” and it refers to the ability to talk about things that aren’t concrete objects in front of our eyes. This includes not only abstract concepts like love and honor, but also points in time outside of the present. 

Hebrew is a bit simpler than many European languages in that it only really has one past tense (the simple past). That said, one could argue that Hebrew makes up for its lack of variety in tenses with its great flexibility in how the past can be discussed. For example, as you’ll see below, Hebrew has a special word that means “last night”—אמש (emesh). Let’s have a look at some other words and phrases for discussing the past.

1. היה … אתמול/אמש.
Hayah… etmol/emesh.
“It was … yesterday/last night.” / “Yesterday/last night was…” / “I had … yesterday/last night.”

  • היה כיף אמש במסיבה.
    Hayah keif emesh ba-mesibah.
    It was fun last night at the party.”
  • היה לי יום נפלא אתמול בעיר העתיקה.
    Hayah li yom nifla etmol ba-’ir ha-’atikah.
    I had a great day yesterday in the old city.”

2. לפני … ימים/שבועות/חודשים/שנים
Lifnei … yamim/shavu’ot/khodashim/shanim
“… days/weeks/months/years ago”

  • הגעתי לארץ לפני שלושה שבועות.
    Higa’ti la-Aretz lifnei shloshah shavu’ot.
    “I got to Israel three weeks ago.”
  • לפני עשרה ימים, התחלתי תוכנית אימונים חדשה בחדר הכושר.
    Lifnei ‘asarah yamim, hitkhalti tokhnit imunim khadashah be-khadar ha-kosher.
    Ten days ago, I started a new workout plan at the gym.”

3. מעולם/בחיים לא
Me’olam/Ba-khayim sheli lo
“Never” [*note the double negative in Hebrew]

  • מעולם לא עשיתי צניחה חופשית.
    Le’olam lo ‘asiti tzenikhah khofshit.
    “I have never skydived.”
  • בחיים לא הכרתי מישהו כל כך מעניין כמו המורה שלנו לעברית.
    Ba-khayim lo hikarti mishehu kol kakh me’anyein kemo ha-moreh shelanu le-’Ivrit.
    “I’ve never met anyone as interesting as our Hebrew teacher.”

4. פעם

  • פעם האמנתי לך, אבל היום כבר לא.
    Pa’am he’emanti lakh, aval hayom kvar lo.
    Once I would have believed you, but no longer.”
  • פעם חלמתי להיות עורכת דין, אבל אז גיליתי את הבלשנות.
    Pa’am khalamti lihiyot ‘orekhet din, aval az giliti et ha-balshanut.
    “I once dreamt of being a lawyer, but then I discovered linguistics.”

5. בעבר
“In the past” / “… used to”

  • קראתי המון ספרים בעבר, אבל עכשיו כבר אין לי זמן.
    Karati hamon sefarim be’avar, aval ‘akhshav kvar ein li zman.
    “I used to read a lot of books, but I don’t have the time anymore.”
  • היינו שם בעבר אבל אני לא זוכר מתי.
    Hayinu sham ba’avar aval ani lo zokheir matai.
    “We’ve been there in the past, but I don’t remember when.”

2. Making and Changing Plans

Man Looking at Schedule

Now that we’ve looked at the past a bit, let’s turn our attention to the future. Below, you’ll find some highly useful phrases for discussing plans, including changing them. Remember that Hebrew, unlike English, does not use tense to indicate intended or expected actions. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to which phrases you can use to express future plans with different connotations and in different contexts. The following intermediate phrases in Hebrew should be a great place to start. 

6. בא לך ל…
Ba lekha/lakh/lakhem/lakhen l…
“Do you feel like…” / “Are you up for…”

  • בא לך לצאת למסעדה?
    Ba lekha latzet le-mis’adah?
    Do you feel like going out to a restaurant?”
  • בא לך לראות סרט אצלי בבית?
    Ba lakh lirot seret eitzli ba-bayit?
    Are you up for watching a movie at my house?”

7. אתה מצטרף/את מצטרפת אליי ל…?
Atah mitztareif/At mitztarefet elai l…?
“Will you join me for/at…?”

  • את מצטרפת אליי למסעדה איטלקית לארוחת ערב?
    At metztarefet elai le-mis’adah Italkit le-arukhat ‘erev?
    Will you join me at an Italian restaurant for dinner?”
  • אתה מצטרף אליי להרצאה על הגשמה עצמית?
    Atah mitztareif elai lehartza’ah ‘al hagshamah ‘atzmit?
    Will you join me for a lecture on self-realization?”

8. … אתה יכול/את יכולה לבוא…?
Atah yakhol/at yekholah lavo…?
“Can … come (along)?”

  • את יכולה לבוא איתי למרכז העיר?
    At yekholah lavo iti le-merkaz ha’ir?
    Can you come downtown with me?”
  • אתה יכול לבוא לקפה עכשיו?
    Atah yakhol lavo la-kafeh ‘akhshav?
    Can you come to the café now?”

9. האם נוכל לדחות…?
Ha’im nukhal lidkhot…?
“Can we postpone…?

  • האם נוכל לדחות את הפגישה לשבוע הבא?
    Ha’im nukhal lidkhot et ha-pgishah le-shavu’a haba?
    Can we postpone the meeting till next week?”

10. בוא/י נקבע ל…
Bo/Bo’i nikba’ le…
“Let’s schedule/set a time for…”

  • בואי נקבע ליום שלישי ב-16:00.
    Bo’i nikba’ le-Yom Shlishi be-’arba ba-tzohorayim.
    Let’s schedule for Wednesday at four p.m.”

3. Giving Reasons

Woman Making Questioning Gesture

Another useful category of phrases for intermediate Hebrew learners consists of those used for giving reasons. Once you’ve gotten comfortable explaining yourself in a more basic way, you’ll want to be able to give people your reason(s) for doing or saying something—especially with such inquisitive conversation mates as Israelis! You can expect us to ask “why” about pretty much everything, in fact! Here are some of the top phrases you can use to explain your reasons or reasoning.

11. …בגלל ש…
…biglal she…

  • פניתי אליך בגלל שאת נראית לי סימפטית וקשובה.
    Paniti elaiyikh biglal she-at nir’et li simpatit ve-kashuvah.
    “I came to you because you seem agreeable and attentive.”
  • הגענו באיחור בגלל שהנהג הלך לאיבוד ולא רצה לבקש הכוונה.
    Higa’nu be-ikhur biglal she-ha-nahag halakh le-ibud ve-lo ratzah levakesh hakhvanah.
    “We arrived late because the driver got lost and didn’t want to ask for directions.”

12. התכוונתי…
“I meant/intended to…”

  • התכוונתי להגיע לתערוכה אבל האוטו שלי התקלקל.
    Hitkavanti lehagi’a la-ta’arukhah aval ha-oto sheli hitkalkeil.
    I meant to go to the exhibition, but my car broke down.”

13. חשבתי ש…
Khashavti she…
“I thought that…”

  • חשבתי שתהיה עייף אז קניתי לך קפה בדרך.
    Khashavti she-tihiyeh ‘ayef az kaniti lekha kafeh ba-derekh.
    I thought that you would be tired, so I bought you a coffee on the way.”

14. אתה חייב/את חייבת להבין ש…
Atah khayav/At khayevet lehavin she…
“You must understand that…”

  • את חייבת להבין שניסיתי להתקשר, אבל הקו היה כל הזמן תפוס.
    At khayevet lehavin she-nisiti lehitkasher, aval ha-kav hayah kol ha-zman tafus.
    You must understand that I tried calling, but the line was constantly busy.”
  • אני מבין שאתה כועס אבל אתה חייב להבין שזה לא היה בכוונה.
    Ani mevin she-atah co’es, aval atah khayav lehavin she-zeh lo hayah be-khavanah.
    “I understand that you’re upset, but you must understand that it was unintentional.”

15. לא סתם…
Lo stam…
“… for nothing” / “It’s no coincidence that…”

  • לא סתם קוראים לו דוקטור. הוא יודע על מה הוא מדבר.
    Lo stam kor’im lo doktor. Hu yode’a ‘al mah hu medaber.
    “They don’t call him ‘doctor’ for nothing. He knows what he’s talking about.”

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

Man Talking to Waiter at Restaurant

Another key category of intermediate Hebrew phrases consists of those related to making recommendations or complaints. There is no end to the situations in Israeli life where you’ll find yourself wishing to complain. And it goes without saying that part of the Israeli way is offering advice—including recommendations—whether invited to do so or not!

16. ניסית פעם…?
Nisita’/nisit pa’am…?
“Have you ever tried…?”

  • ניסית פעם אוכל קוריאני? זה טעים ממש!
    Nisita pa’am okhel Kore’ani? Ze ta’im mamash!
    Have you ever tried Korean food? It’s really tasty!”

17. אני מציע/ה…
Ani metzi’a/metzi’ah…
“I recommend/suggest…”

  • בהתחשב במזג האוויר, אני מציעה שנשאר בבית ונבשל משהו.
    Behitkhasheiv be-mezeg ha-avir, ani metzi’ah she-nisha’er ba-bayit ve-nevashel mashehu.
    “In light of the weather, I suggest that we stay at home and cook something.”

18. כדאי לך לנסות…
Kedai lekha/lakh lenasot…
“You ought to try…”

  • אם את אוהבת אתגרים, כדאי לך לנסות טיפוס הרים.
    Im at ohevet etgarim, kedai lakh lenasot tipus harim.
    “If you like challenges, you ought to try mountain climbing.”

19.לצערי / צר לי לומר ש…
Le’tsa’ari…. / tsar li lomar she-…
“I’m sorry to say that…” / “Unfortunately…”

  • לצערי הטיול שלנו לא היה מי יודע מה.
    Le’tsa’ari ha-tiyul shelanu lo hayah mi yodei’a mah.
    I’m sorry to say that our trip wasn’t that great.”
  • צר לי לומר שאתה לא הטיפוס שלי.
    Tzar li lomar she-atah lo ha-tipus sheli.
    Unfortunately, you’re not my type.”

20. אני לא ממליץ/ממליצה על …
Ani lo mamlitz/mamlitzah ‘al…
“I don’t recommend…”

  • אני לא ממליץ על כביש החוף. הוא תמיד עמוס בשעות האלה.
    Ani lo mamlitz ‘al kvish ha-khof. Hu tamid ‘amus ba-sha’ot ha-eleh.
    I don’t recommend the coastal road. It’s always backed up at this hour.”

5. Everyday Reactions

Dancer in Bewildering Pose

This category differs somewhat to the previous ones in that it’s a grab bag of reactions that you could use in everyday conversations. They are quite versatile and can take on different connotations depending on how and when you use them. But that’s all the more reason to experiment with them and see how your conversation partners respond.

21. נהדר

  • -קיבלתי 10 במבחן הסופי!
    נהדר! כל הכבוד!
    Kibalti ‘eser ba-mivkhan ha-sofi!
    Nehedar! Kol ha-kavod!
    -“I got an A on the final exam.”
    -“Great! Way to go!”

22. מעולה

  • -איך תה הצמחים שלך?
    -מעולה! טעים מאוד.
    -“How’s your herbal tea?”
    -“Wonderful! Really tasty.”

23. חבל
“What a shame”

  • -יובל אמר שבסוף הוא לא בא לאסוף אותנו.
    חבל. אז נצטרך להזמין מונית.
    -Yuval amar she-ba’sof hu lo ba le’esof otanu.
    Khaval! Az nitztareikh lehazmin monit.
    -“Yuval said that in the end, he isn’t coming to pick us up.”
    -“What a shame. Now we’ll need to order a taxi.”

24. איזה כיף
Eizeh kef
“Cool” / “What fun”

  • -אתה מוזמן לבלות את הסופ”ש אצלנו בקיבוץ.
    איזה כיף. להביא בגדי ים?
    -Atah muzman levalot et ha-sofash etzleinu ba-kibbutz.
    Eizeih kef. Lehavi beged yam?
    -“You’re invited to spend the weekend with us on the kibbutz.”
    -“What fun. Should I bring a bathing suit?”

25. איזה באסה
Eizeh ba’asah
“What a bummer”

  • -שמעת שביטלו את ההופעה בגלל המגיפה?
    -כן, איזה באסה. דווקא רציתי ללכת.
    -Shama’t she-bitlu et ha-hofa’ah biglal ha-magefah?
    -Kein, eizeh ba’asah. Davkah ratziti lalekhet.
    -“Did you hear that they canceled the show due to the pandemic?”
    -“Yes, what a bummer. I really wanted to go.”

26. מה אתה אומר/את אומרת?
Mah atah omer/at omeret?
“You don’t say.”

  • -ידעת שיש לי אח תאום?
    מה אתה אומר? אתם זהים?
    -Yada’t she-yesh li akh te’om?
    Mah atah omer? Atem zehim?
    -“Did you know that I have a twin brother?”
    -“You don’t say. Are you identical?”

27. וואלה?
“Really?” / “Is that so?”

  • -השבוע קיבלתי הצעת עבודה מחברה בלונדון.
    וואלה? מגניב.
    -Hashavu’a kibalti hatza’at ‘avodah mi-khevrah be-London.
    Wallah? Magniv.
    -“This week, I got a job offer from a company in London.”
    -“Is that so? That’s great.”

28. נו?
“So?” / “What of it?”

  • -שמעת את החדשות הבוקר?
    -כן, נו?
    -שוב הולכים לבחירות!
    -Shama’ta et ha-khadashot ha-boker?
    -Ken, nu?
    -Shuv holkhim le-b’khirot!
    -“Did you hear the news this morning?”
    -“Yeah, so?
    -“We’re having yet another round of elections.”

29. מה זה קשור?
Mah zeh kashur?
“What has that got to do with it/anything?”

  • -אתה צמחוני, נכון? אז הבאתי לך ספר על צמחים.
    מה זה קשור? אני צמחוני, לא גנן.
    -Atah tzimkhoni, nakhon? Az heveiti lekha sefer ‘al tzmakhim.
    Mah zeh kashur. Ani tzimkhoni, lo ganan.
    -“You’re a vegetarian, right? So I brought you a book on plants.”
    -“What has that got to do with anything? I’m a vegetarian, not a gardener.”

30. ומה אתה רוצה/את שאני אעשה?
Ve-mah atah rotzeh/at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
“What do you want me to do?”

  • -שוטר, הבחור שם מפצח גרעינים ברחוב.
    -נו? מה את רוצה שאני אעשה?
    -Shoter, ha-bakhur sham mefatze’akh gar’inim ba-rekhov.
    -Nu? Mah at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
    -“Officer, that guy there is spitting seeds onto the street.”
    -“So? What do you want me to do?

6. General Etiquette

Last but not least, let’s look at some intermediate Hebrew phrases that can help you with your etiquette. Granted, as anyone who knows anything about Israel is sure to be aware of, Israelis are not world-famous for being polite. But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn some brownie (or halva) points for displaying a basic degree of etiquette and manners. In fact, maybe you’ll get lucky and rub it off on some Sabras! Here are some phrases you can use to add a bit of politeness to any conversation.

35. בתיאבון!
“Bon appetit!”

36. ברוך הבא/ברוכה הבאה/ברוכים הבאים!
Barukh ha-ba/Brukhah ha-ba’ah/Brukhim ha-ba’im!

37. הרגש/י בבית.
Targish/Targishi ba-bayit.
“Make yourself at home.”

38. בשמחה.

39. נהיה בקשר.
Nihiyeh be-kesher.
“We’ll be in touch.”

40. נסיעה טובה.
Nesi’ah tova.
“Have a good trip.”

7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on intermediate Hebrew phrases. Remember to practice and review them to ensure they “stick.” By the same token, don’t overwhelm yourself. Just focus on a few phrases at a time, and soon enough, you’ll have them all under your belt.

Are you finding yourself perplexed over one of the phrases or examples we’ve provided? Are there any phrases you know that aren’t here but which you think should be? We love to hear from our learners, so please don’t hesitate to contact us; someone on our team of Hebrew pros will do his or her best to help address your concern.

Until next time, shalom!

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

The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts to Improve Your Language Skills


Most people know that the best recipe for mastering a foreign language is immersion. This means exposing yourself to the language as much as possible, and it’s typically associated with living in a country where that language is spoken so you can really live it: listening to it on the radio, reading it in the news, speaking and hearing it in cafés, etc.

But even if you don’t have the resources to move abroad, Hebrew podcasts can be particularly helpful for you. Israel is the only country where Hebrew is an official language, even though you can find Hebrew-speaking Israelis all over the world. The reality is that it’s not always feasible for Hebrew learners to travel to Israel due to its geographic distance and/or travel costs. But don’t worry! Listening to a Hebrew podcast or two can simulate language immersion by enveloping you in the Hebrew language—without you ever needing to leave home.

In Hebrew, a podcast is sometimes just called a פודקאסט (podcast), but the proper Hebrew word for it is הסכת (hesket). Not only are podcasts real, live examples of Hebrew being used in its natural habitat, but they can also be a refreshing change of pace from grammar lessons and vocabulary lists. Indeed, listening to podcasts can be a surprisingly effective method for improving your Hebrew—not in spite of their low-pressure, non-academic nature but rather because of it. As you lend your ear to the grammar, vocabulary, and speech patterns of native Hebrew speakers, you’ll find that elements of language usage just seem to seep in.

Woman with Headphones On

All that being said, there are some important considerations to bear in mind when approaching Hebrew podcasts as learning aids. Let’s have a look at some general information on how podcasts can help language learners and some tips on how best to use them to your advantage. Then, we’ll check out the top 10 Hebrew podcasts, complete with an overview of the level and focus of each one.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. How can podcasts help you learn Hebrew?
  2. What can you do to get the most out of podcasts?
  3. The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts for Language Learners
  4. It’s called HebrewPod101 for a reason!

1. How can podcasts help you learn Hebrew?

Audio Waves

As mentioned, the most effective way to acquire a foreign language is through immersion. We can define immersion in both a positive sense and a negative sense: positive in terms of exposing yourself to as much Hebrew as possible, and negative in terms of limiting how much you use your native language or any other language but Hebrew.

The best way to achieve this is simply by spending time in Israel, where Hebrew is the language of everyday life. In fact, other than particular expat enclaves, Arab neighborhoods, and other specific contexts, you would be hard-pressed not to get a vast amount of exposure to Hebrew by just placing yourself within the borders of Israel.

There’s no arguing that this is the most effective and authentic way to study Hebrew in earnest, but for many, it is simply not a possibility. Whether you cannot afford to travel or to take time off, or you simply wish to work on your Hebrew before taking a trip to Israel, you’re lucky to live in an age where, thanks to the proliferation of Hebrew media, Israel can come to you.

Elsewhere on, we’ve talked about using music, movies, and TV shows to garner more exposure to genuine Hebrew. But now, let’s see how podcasts specifically can contribute to achieving your language learning goals.

Woman in radio studio with microphone
  1. Tuning in to Hebrew podcasts is a great way to passively boost your listening skills. While it may not feel like you’re really learning in the traditional sense, as you will not be given homework or exams, trust us when we say that just listening to authentic Hebrew will go a long way toward honing your listening comprehension. And the more you listen, the more you’ll learn—much of the time without even noticing that any learning is going on! You’ll just suddenly realize that you comprehend that much more of what a speaker is saying, or that you can understand a word you thought you’d never seen before.
  1. Your vocabulary will grow by leaps and bounds. Because you’ll be listening to native speakers in a more natural context (rather than teachers in a classroom), you’ll benefit from exposure to the full range of vocabulary a native Israeli would use to express themself: slang, jargon, and other linguistic elements that you may not find in academic resources for language learners.
  1. You will get contextualized grammar to model real-life usage. While textbooks typically have examples to model the grammar points being taught, listening to podcasts means you’ll hear how Hebrew grammar works as a matter of course, but without being bashed over the head with grammar rules and repetitive drills. In other words, you’ll naturally reinforce grammar points you’ve already learned and may very well extrapolate new grammar features just by hearing them used multiple times.
  1. Your pronunciation will flourish. This one is a bit more personal, as some people struggle more than others in this regard. Depending on your native language and your own ability to mimic foreign phoneme production, you may find it more or less difficult to produce the proper pronunciation of Hebrew words. Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly strong in terms of reproducing natural-sounding pronunciation, you’ll at the very least come to comprehend it far better simply by exposing yourself to natural Hebrew speech.

2. What can you do to get the most out of podcasts?

Woman Playing Record in Studio

Now that we’ve seen how Hebrew podcasts can aid you in your language learning endeavors, let’s see some of the ways you can ensure you reap all the benefits they have to offer. Obviously, any Hebrew exposure is better than none. But there are certainly some tips that can help you pick the right podcasts for you, as well as some guidelines on how to use them effectively in the context of studying Hebrew as a foreign language.

  1. Pick the right level. This is, admittedly, somewhat trickier than choosing a study course or textbook, as most podcasts tend not to be graded by level. That said, simple common sense is your friend. For example, a podcast on general-knowledge topics or on subject matter you’re already familiar with will be easier to follow than podcasts on highly specialized topics full of jargon and esoteric information.

    Additionally, the host can have a huge impact on how easy or difficult the podcast is to follow. How fast do they speak? How clearly do they enunciate? What register are they using (e.g., formal vs. informal, academic vs. street talk, etc.)? The same is true for podcasts with guests. While multiple guests will mean more exposure to more speakers, it’s also likely to represent an additional challenge.

    You want to pick a level that feels challenging, but not overly so. Even if you can only get the gist of what’s being talked about, you’re doing fine as long as you feel you’re more or less keeping up. Don’t listen to anything that’s too easy, but also steer away from podcasts that leave you dumbfounded.

  1. Choose podcasts on topics that interest you. Podcasts should be an enjoyable learning aid rather than a frustrating one. For that reason, it’s best to seek out podcasts on themes you enjoy and maybe even know a bit about. This will help connect to top-down knowledge you already have, empowering you to focus chiefly on language acquisition without having to scratch your head over the subject matter itself. Whatever you do, don’t listen to anything that bores you!

  1. Mix it up. Whether you listen to a mix of podcasts or simply find one that’s a variety show, the important thing is to ensure you’re getting varied exposure. The reasons are obvious. The more you listen to Hebrew speakers talking about a range of topics, the more your vocabulary specifically and language knowledge in general will grow.

    Radio Tower
    1. Have a notepad handy. Just because you’re not in a classroom where you’ll be getting a grade doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the most of every chance to learn. Jotting down a few new words from each podcast to review and quiz yourself on later is a great way to ensure you’ll ultimately retain them. If you’re unsure of a word’s spelling, don’t fret. Just write it down the way you think it sounds, and ask a teacher or an Israeli friend for help later.

    1. Set a schedule, more or less. While it isn’t essential to tune in to every episode of a podcast, it’s a good idea to have some sort of regimen to go with your Hebrew podcast listening. If you can fit in a daily podcast during your commute or over breakfast, that’s great. But even three or four times a week can go a long way toward boosting your language abilities.

    3. The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts for Language Learners

    Boy with Headphones and Radio

    Now that we’ve seen how podcasts can help you learn Hebrew and discussed some of the best ways to use them, let’s check out this carefully curated list of the top 10 Hebrew podcasts for learners. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive; quite the contrary. There is a wealth of podcasts in the Hebrew language on just about every topic under the sun, so consider this a springboard to discovery.

    1. HebrewPod101
      HebrewPod101 Logo with Woman Wearing Headphones

      While we don’t mean to toot our own horn, we at HebrewPod101 diligently work to produce a broad range of podcasts on many different topics. And in our case specifically, we record every podcast episode with Hebrew learners in mind! For this reason, HebrewPod101 can be a great place to start. Our podcasts cover all levels, and they touch on everything from grammar points and vocabulary to general tips for effective learning, Israeli and Jewish culture, and much more.

    1. KAN Hesketim
    Stack of Textbooks

    This is actually not one podcast but a whole range of podcasts put out by KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. Topics span the gamut from popular culture and current events to the Bible and Jewish history, while individual episodes can be as short as 10 minutes and as long as an hour and a half. This is a great plus, as you can choose a podcast to fit whatever time you have available.

    KAN Hesketim podcasts tend to be somewhat “newsy”: hosts speak in the flowery, clearly enunciated, and rather old-fashioned style typical of mainstream Israeli newscasters. This can be helpful in terms of your comprehension, but, on the other hand, it’s not always representative of how most Israelis actually speak. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend it for a specific level. Rather, try listening to a bunch of different podcasts until you find one that feels comfortable for you.

  1. Mayeshbeze

    Mayeshbeze, or ?מה יש בזה (Mah yesh be-zeh?) in Hebrew, literally means “What’s in it?” but is something more akin to, “What’s this all about?” Described as an “historic-comic podcast series,” it’s hosted by Kobi Melamed and Elad Itzhakian. Each week, they discuss a random true event from history that is in some way comical, strange, and/or hard to believe. For example, one episode deals with the infamous case of Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants, in which Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after burning her pelvic region with a cup of its coffee.

    While they use the informal register, the hosts do tend to speak at a fast clip, so this can be challenging for beginner-level Hebrew learners. On the other hand, an extra plus to the podcast is that the hosts typically schmooze about random things for a few minutes before plunging into the historical case on tap for the day—something of a lightweight pregame before the show starts in earnest.

  1. Israel Story
    Israeli Flag

    Israel Story, or סיפור ישראלי (Sipur Yisra’eli) in Hebrew, has been self-described as an Israeli counterweight to This American Life. It focuses on “extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis” while shying away from divisive issues like politics, making this podcast all about the human angle. Indeed, it strives to portray Israeli life and Israelis with all of the diversity and color that goes with them.

    Stories are told in a fairly casual manner, so as long as you’re comfortable with the host, you don’t have to worry about sesquipedalians or arcana. Just like This American Life, the episodes in this podcast comprise multiple stories linked by a common theme. While the podcast has also been available in English since 2014, in collaboration with Tablet magazine, we recommend you challenge yourself to try it out in Hebrew before you check it out in English!

  1. Reshet Osim Historia
    Open Book

    Reshet Osim Historia, or רשת עושים היסטוריה in Hebrew, means “Making History Network” but it comprises much more than just historically minded podcasts. Like KAN Hesketim, Reshet Osim Historia is a large—according to its own website, the largest—podcast network. You can find an immense range of podcasts in Hebrew on various topics, at different difficulty levels, and of varying durations.

    The offerings are so broad that the website even includes a מדריך הפודקאסטים (Madrikh ha-Podkastim) or “Podcast Guide.” This can help you find just the right podcast for you by providing the name, link, RSS, and category for each podcast it hosts, as well as a brief description. With such a wide selection, you’re sure to find a podcast (or five) that suits you.

  1. Hebrew Podcasts

    This is one of the few Hebrew podcast websites directly aimed at language learners. As such, it offers themed lessons based on things like vocabulary categories or specific grammar points. The site labels each podcast by level, and each podcast comes with additional resources such as flashcards and quizzes. However, unlike the other sites we’ve listed so far, this one is not free but subscription-based.

  1. Hebrew Survival Phrases

    Just as its name suggests, this one is similar to those thin-spined phrasebooks printed for travelers. It offers podcast-style lessons that cover essential words and phrases for use in specific situations and contexts, such as greeting strangers or ordering at a restaurant. Though the Hebrew Survival Phrases podcast does not rank its content by level, the episodes are ordered, meaning you’ll probably get the most out of them if you follow them sequentially. You can either listen to the podcasts right on the website or download them for later.

  1. LearnHebrewPod

    Another educational site, LearnHebrewPod focuses on helping Hebrew language learners with their listening and speaking skills. All the lessons are in podcast format and cover everyday topics like family, travel, hobbies, food, and more. There’s also a separate section focused on teaching Jewish prayers, as well as guides on the Hebrew alphabet.

    The main part of the website centers on podcast episodes that follow an Israeli, Jonathan, around in his daily life, which it uses as an entrée to various learning opportunities in real-life contexts. Note that this is another subscription-based option.

  1. Streetwise Hebrew
    Israeli Shekel

    This Hebrew learning podcast, hosted by Guy Sharett, is a great option if you’re pressed for time and just want to squeeze in a quick Hebrew fix. Episodes are about five to 15 minutes long and focus on one topic, such as a specific word or expression. The podcast centers on idiomatic Hebrew, often illustrated via an interesting or funny anecdote.

  1. Criminal Record Podcast
    Man in Handcuffs

    Last but not least, let’s face it: We all love crime stories. The Criminal Record Podcast, or עבר פלילי (‘Avar Plili) “Criminal Record” in Hebrew, is a series of episodes presented by Israeli criminologist Dana Hilman. Lasting half an hour to an hour, each episode delves into the lurid details of some dark crime past or present, some in Israel and others elsewhere in the world.

    A nice advantage is that the speech used tends to be slow and clearly enunciated for dramatic effect, making it easier to follow along. An additional bonus is that episodes include interviews with people involved in investigating the crimes under discussion.

4. It’s called HebrewPod101 for a reason!

As you can see, podcasts are a fantastic learning aid that can simulate immersion from anywhere. Podcasts cover diverse topics, offer access to real native speakers, and span a broad array of difficulty levels, lengths, and registers. But what all podcasts have in common is that they are on-demand, meaning you can use them whenever and as often as you wish, at your own pace.

HebrewPod101 is called that precisely because we aim to maintain a similar attitude with the materials we offer our learners, most of which are audio-based. We know that learning a language can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it has to be stressful. Because we offer a range of materials on demand, you can study at your leisure and in the order you see fit. Additionally, you can take the reins as you progress with your own Hebrew learning trajectory, focusing on what you want and skipping whatever is irrelevant or not of interest to you.

And even as you study independently, know that our team of experts is always happy to field your questions and hear your comments. If you have any questions about podcasts or any other aspect of Hebrew learning, please reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.

Until next time, shalom!

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

The Top 40 Simple Hebrew Phrases for Beginners


Learning a new language is no small task. Between grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and even different social norms and body language, it’s easy to feel at a loss as to where to start. Today, we’ll arm you with the top 40 Hebrew phrases for beginners—simple but highly practical expressions and structures for a variety of situations.

We’ll be covering: 

  • Basic greetings and salutations
  • Courtesy phrases for making polite conversation
  • Language to use when shopping or dining out
  • Some phrases you can use to ask for help when you really need it
Woman Ordering in Shop

If you’re entirely new to Hebrew, it’s worth noting a few key features of the language that will help you along as you study the phrases below. First off, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that, like Arabic and Farsi, vowels are not actual letters but rather diacritics; think of them as dots and dashes that adorn a consonant and tell you which vowel sound goes with it.

To make matters more complicated, these diacritics are typically omitted from written and printed Hebrew, meaning you’re often looking at only consonants. This may sound daunting, but you’ll get used to it! Plus, we’ve added a pronunciation guide for each phrase and example sentence to ease things a bit.

Another key fact you should know about Hebrew is that it’s big on gender. Not only does Hebrew apply gender to living creatures based on biological gender, but all nouns and pronouns are gendered as either male or female (often without any apparent logic). In addition, all adjectives and verbs have to take into account the gender and number of the nouns they modify. Again, don’t sweat it for now! Just be aware of this as you study these Hebrew beginner phrases and their example sentences.

Last but not least, if you speak English or another European language, it’s more than likely that some of Hebrew’s sounds will be hard for you to pronounce. Don’t stress over this! It gets easier over time, especially if you practice on a regular basis. We recommend using the many resources HebrewPod101 offers, such as video lessons with pronunciation modeling from native speakers.

With all that in mind, let’s have a look at the top 40 basic Hebrew phrases for beginners!

Woman Reading Book

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Greetings & Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining & Shopping Phrases
  4. Asking for Help
  5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

1. Greetings & Self-introductions

Woman Waving

Obviously, it always makes sense to start at the beginning. While some Israelis can be somewhat abrupt at times, skipping the niceties of introductions and cutting right to the chase, you’ll still want to mind your manners, right? The following phrases should give you a solid place to start as you work on meeting and greeting native Hebrew speakers.

1. מה שלומך?
Mah shlomkha/shlomekh?
“How are you?”

  • מה שלומך, דן?
    Mah shlomkha, Dan?
    How are you, Dan?”
  • מה שלומך, דנה?
    Mah shlomekh, Danah?
    How are you, Dana?”

2. איך הולך?
Eikh holekh?
“How’s it going?”

  • איך הולך? מה שלום המשפחה?
    Eikh holekh? Mah shlom ha-mishpakhah?
    How’s it going? How’s the family?”

3. מה חדש?
Mah khadash?
“What’s new?”

  • מה חדש, אחי? מזמן לא דיברנו.
    Mah khadash, akhi? Mi-zman lo dibarnu.
    What’s new, brother? We haven’t spoken for a long time.”

4. בוקר טוב.
Boker tov.
“Good morning.”

  • בוקר טוב. כבר אכלתם ארוחת בוקר?
    Boker tov. Kvar akhaltem arukhat boker?
    Good morning. Have you already had breakfast?”

5. צהריים טובים.
Tzohorayim tovim.
“Good afternoon.”

  • צהריים טובים. בא לך ללכת לים?
    Tzohorayim tovim. Ba lakh lalekhet la-yam?
    Good afternoon. Do you want to go to the beach?”
Cartoon of Man with Sun

6. ערב טוב.
‘Erev tov.
“Good evening.”

  • ערב טוב. כרטיס אחד, בבקשה.
    ‘Erev tov. Kartis ekhad bevakashah.
    Good evening. One ticket, please.”

7. לילה טוב.
Laylah tov.

  • לילה טוב. חלומות פז!
    Laylah tov. Khalomot paz!
    Goodnight. Sweet dreams!”

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

  • היי, טל. אני רוברט. נעים להכיר.
    Hai, Tal. Ani Robert. Na’im lehakir.
    “Hi, Tal. I’m Robert. Nice to meet you.”

9. שמי…
“My name is…” / “I’m…”

  • שמי רונן. איך קוראים לך?
    Shmi Ronen. Eikh korim lekha?
    I’m Ronen. What’s your name?”

10. אני מ…
Ani mi/mei…
“I’m from..”

  • שלום. שמי רונדה. אני משיקגו.
    Shalom. Shmi Rondah. Ani mi-Shikago.
    “Hi. My name is Ronda. I’m from Chicago.”

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions


Now let’s take a look at some useful Hebrew phrases for courteous and polite conversation. Think of this as an emergency kit for most social interactions you’ll have in Israel. It is worth noting that Israelis are typically rather informal compared to people of some other cultures, but don’t mistake that for lack of courtesy—we just show it in our own special way, of course!

To make things easier, we’ve chosen only phrases that do not require any modification based on the gender of the speaker or the addressee. Basically, these are stock phrases, so feel free to use them liberally, wherever appropriate.

11. תודה.
“Thank you.” / “Thanks.”

  • תודה על הפרחים!
    Todah ‘al ha-prakhim.
    Thank you for the flowers.”

12. בבקשה.
“You’re welcome.” / “Please.”
*Note that this one can mean either “you’re welcome” or “please,” depending on the context, as illustrated by the example below.

  • אפשר כוס תה בבקשה?
    -Efshar kos teh bevakashah?
    -“Could I have a cup of tea, please?”
  • -בטח. הנה, קחי.
    -Betakh. Hineh, k’khi.
    -“Of course. Here you go.”
  • -תודה.
    -“Thank you.”
  • בבקשה.
    -“You’re welcome.”

13. סליחה.
“Sorry.” / “Pardon.”

  • סליחה, איפה השירותים?
    Slikhah, eifoh ha-sherutim?
    “Pardon, where is the bathroom?”

14. אין בעיה.
Ein ba’ayah.
“No problem.”

  • -תודה שאספת אותי מהתחנה המרכזית.
    -Todah she-asafta oti me-ha-takhanah ha-merkazit.
    -“Thanks for picking me up from the bus station.”
  • אין בעיה.
    Ein be’ayah.
    -“No problem.”

15. ברשותך
Bi-rshutkha / Bi-rshuteikh
“If you wouldn’t mind”

  • ברשותך, הייתי רוצה לחנות כאן.
    Bi-rshutkha, hayiti rotzeh lakhanot kan.
    If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to park here.”

Silhouette of People Waving

16. להתראות.
“Goodbye.” / “See you later.”

  • תודה שבאתם. להתראות!
    Todah she-batem. Lehitra’ot!
    “Thanks for coming. Goodbye!”

17. עד מחר.
‘Ad makhar.
“See you tomorrow.”

  • עד מחר. שיהיה לך ערב נעים.
    ‘Ad makhar. She-yehiyeh lakh ‘erev na’im.
    “See you tomorrow. Have a pleasant evening.”

18. עד הפעם הבאה
‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah
“Till next time”

  • היה אחלה אימון! עד הפעם הבאה, גבר.
    Hayah akhlah imun! ‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah, gever.
    “That was a great training session. Till next time, buddy.”

19. כל טוב.
Kol tuv.
“Be well.”

  • נסיעה טובה! כל טוב.
    Nesi’ah tovah! Kol tuv.
    “Have a good trip! Be well.”

20. ד”ש ל…
Dash le…
“Regards to…”
*ד”ש is an acronym for דרישת שלום (drishat shalom), literally “demanding/seeking peace.” It is equivalent to “regards” in English.

  • ד”ש לכל המשפחה.
    Dash le-khol ha-mishpakhah.
    Regards to the whole family.”

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

Chef Seasoning Dish

Our next set of beginner phrases in Hebrew consists of expressions and sentence patterns you’ll need when you’re at the store, the market, or a restaurant. Obviously, this is just a crash course in shopping and dining out in Israel. After all, the art of negotiation is so powerful and omnipresent in Israeli culture that many restaurants don’t even display prices for the dishes on the menu. This leaves room for them to work you up on the price, or—if you know how—for you to work them down.

21. אדוני? / גברתי?
Adoni? / Gvirti?
“Sir?” / “Miss?”

  • אדוני, אני רוצה להזמין שולחן לשלוש.
    Adoni, ani rotzah lehazmin shulkhan le-shalosh.
    Sir, I’d like to reserve a table for three.”

22. האם אפשר…?
Ha’im efshar…?
“Could I have…?”

  • גברתי, האם אפשר לקבל תפריט באנגלית?
    Gvirti, ha’im efshar lekabel tafrit be-Anglit?
    “Miss, could I have an English menu?”

23. יש לכם…?
Yeish lakhem…?
“Do you have…?”

  • יש לכם תפריט יינות?
    Yesh lakhem tafrit yeinot?
    Do you have a wine list?”

24. אשמח…
“I’d love…”

  • אשמח לקבל אספרסו כפול.
    Esmakh lekabel espreso kaful.
    I’d love a double espresso.”

25. כמה זה עולה?
Kamah zeh oleh?
“How much is it?”

  • הכובע הזה ממש יפה. כמה זה עולה?
    Ha-kova’ ha-zeh mamash yafeh. Kamah zeh oleh?
    “This hat is really nice. How much is it?”

Woman Checking Out at Bookstore

26. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?
“Could I get some change, please?”

יש לי רק שטר של מאה. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Yesh li rak shtar shel me’ah. Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?“I only have a one-hundred shekel bill. Could I get some change, please?”

27. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“Do you accept credit cards?”

אין עליי מזומן. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Ein alai mezuman. Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“I don’t have any cash on me. Do you accept credit cards?”

28. אפשר למדוד?
Efshar limdod?
“Can I try this/it on?”

אהבתי את השמלה הזאת. אפשר למדוד?
Ahavti et ha-simlah ha-zot. Efshar limdod?
“I like this dress. Can I try it on?”

29. יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Yeish lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“Do you have this/it in another color?”

הארנק הזה הוא בדיוק מה שחיפשתי אבל יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Ha-arnak ha-zeh hu bidiyuk mah she-khipasti aval yesh lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“This wallet is just what I was looking for, but do you have it in another color?”

30. אני אקח את זה.
Ani ekhakh et zeh.
“I’ll take it.”

אני אקח את זה. כמה זה ביחד?
Ani ekhakh et zeh. Kamah zeh be-yakhad?
I’ll take it. How much is that altogether?”

4. Asking for Help

People Holding Out Puzzle Pieces

Finally, here are some absolutely essential basic Hebrew phrases for beginners, namely phrases you can use when you’re in need of assistance. While Israelis can sometimes come across as a bit hard-edged, most of us are quite happy to help someone in need. Especially if you make the effort to learn how to ask for help in Hebrew, you should expect someone to come to your aid.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask police officers, border patrol, soldiers, and the like for help, especially if your situation is urgent. Just be sensitive to the reality of Israel, where real and present danger does often exist. Therefore, be sure not to exaggerate!

31. איפה…?
“Where is/are…?”

  • איפה תחנת הרכבת?
    Eifoh takhanat ha-rakevet?
    Where is the train station?”

32. איך מגיעים ל…?
Eiykh megi’im le/la…?
“How do I get to…?”

  • איך מגיעים לקניון?
    Eiykh megi’im la-kanyon?
    How do I get to the mall?”

33. אתה מדבר/את מדברת אנגלית?
Atah medabeir/At medaberet Anglit?
“Do you speak English?”

  • סליחה, את מדברת אנגלית?
    Slikhah, at medaberet Anglit?
    “Pardon, do you speak English?”

34. איך אומרים … בעברית?
Eiykh omrim … be-Ivrit?
“How do you say … in Hebrew?”

  • איך אומרים cell phone בעברית?
    Eiykh omrim cell phone be-Ivrit?
    How do you say cell phone in Hebrew?”

35. תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על זה?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhazor ‘al zeh?
“Could you repeat that?”

  • איך? תוכל לחזור על זה?
    Eikh? Tukhal lakhazor ‘al zeh?
    “Come again. Could you repeat that?”

Man Helping Other Man Rock Climb

36. סליחה. שוב?
Slikhah. Shuv?
“Sorry. Once more?”

  • סליחה. פלאפון? שוב?
    Slikhah. Pelefon? Shuv?
    Sorry. Pelefon? Once more?”

37. לא הבנתי.
Lo hevanti.
“I don’t understand.”
*Literally: “I haven’t understood.”

  • ישר ישר ואז ימינה? לא הבנתי.
    Yashar yashar ve-az yeminah? Lo hevanti.
    “Just go straight and then left? I don’t understand.”

38. אני צריך/צריכה לראות רופא.
Ani tsarikh/tsrikha lir’ot rofeih.
“I need a doctor.”

  • אני צריכה לראות רופא. כואב לי הבטן ממש.
    Ani tsrikha lir’ot rofeh. Ko’evet li ha-beten mamash.
    I need a doctor. My stomach really hurts.”

39. האם תוכל/תוכלי לעזור לי?
Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li?
“Could you help me?”

  • האם תוכל לעזור לי? אני אבוד.
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li? Ani avud.
    Could you help me? I’m lost.”

40. הצילו!
*This one is pretty much a standalone expression. Don’t use it unless you really need it, as Israelis will come rushing to your aid. No crying wolf!

5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. While these are the top 40 simple Hebrew phrases for beginners, there is much, much more to learn. And that’s exactly why we’re here! HebrewPod101 is proud to offer content covering a variety of topics and designed for every difficulty level. 

If you’ve been reading this lesson, chances are you’re at a beginner level. Be sure to check out all the beginner materials we offer, such as practice conversations, grammar and pronunciation guides, and plenty more words and phrases to bolster your beginner Hebrew vocabulary.

While taking on a new language is definitely a challenge, we believe that there is no reason to suffer while you do so. That’s why we strive for lessons that are not only useful and informative, but also fun. Is there any topic you’d like us to cover? Feel free to get in touch and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you.

Until next time, shalom!

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

Level Up with the Top 150 Advanced Hebrew Words


American writer and lexicographer Wilfred Funk, of the publishing house Funk & Wagnalls, once said: “The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think…and the more ideas you will invite into your mind.” This is just as true when acquiring a second (or third or fourth) language as it is in your mother tongue.

As you progress in your language studies, learning more advanced Hebrew words is a logical—albeit unavoidable—next step. The more words you can acquire and use in Hebrew, the better you will be able to express yourself with precision and eloquence. A wider vocabulary will also allow you to understand written and spoken language with greater ease. 

Of course, advanced words are not the most monosyllabic in the dictionary. Rather, think of them as secondary and tertiary colors that expand your palette, allowing you greater expressivity and imagination. These can be literary or poetic words, idioms, colloquialisms, or specialized terminology.

In today’s lesson, we’ll look at the top 150 advanced Hebrew vocabulary words to help you expand your linguistic repertoire. We will draw from the academic and business worlds, the field of medicine, and legal language, concluding with some essential words to help you with academic and other formal writing.

Table of Contents
  1. מילים אקדמיות (Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words”)
  2. מילים מעולם העסקים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words”)
  3. מילים מתחום הרפואה (Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words”)
  4. מילים מעולם המשפטים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology”)
  5. מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, “Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)
  6. Level up with HebrewPod101!

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

מילים אקדמיות (“Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words)

Student in Library

Let’s begin our list of advanced Hebrew words with some academic vocabulary. These are words you’re likely to encounter and use in the context of academic studies or in written and spoken material from the world of research, philosophy, the arts, etc. This language can be particularly useful if you plan on studying at an Israeli academic institution or if you’re interested in reading the wealth of Hebrew-language research that exists in just about every field of study.

1.     אלטרנטיבה

2.     הערכה

3.     תועלת

4.     מורכב

5.     קונספט

6.     מסקנה

7.     התנהלות

8.     עקבי

9.     הקשר

10.  תיאום

11.  סביבה
“environment” / “surroundings”

12.  לשער
“to estimate”

13.  גורם

14.  תפקוד

15.  זיהוי

16.  רושם

17.  להצביע
“to indicate”

18.  השקעה

19.  חוג
“academic department/major”

20.  שיטה

21.  להתרחש
“to occur”

22.  פוטנציאל

23.  חיוני

24.  טווח

25.  משמעותי

מילים מעולם העסקים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words)

Coworkers Looking at Laptop

Now let’s have a look at some business vocabulary. These words can be very helpful if you have to deal with any finances in Hebrew. This includes things like banking, investments, and even the stock market. As an economic powerhouse, Israel is home to plenty of business dealings—especially startups—so these words will definitely be an essential part of your advanced Hebrew toolkit!

26.     לארגן
“to organize”

27.     הנהגה

28.     להרחיב
“to expand”

29.     סעיף

30.     בטל ומבוטל
batel u-mevutal
“null and void”

31.     מתחרה

32.     חשבונית

33.     הצעת נגד
hatza’at neged

34.     סימן מסחרי
siman miskhari

35.  קונצנזוס

36.  יחסי ציבור (יח”צ)
yakhasei tzibur (yakhats)
“public relations”
*Note that the abbreviation יח”ץ is pronounced “yakhatz.”

37.  סדר יום
seder yom
“agenda” (literally “order of the day”)

38.  עזר חזותי
‘ezer khazuti
“visual aid”

39.  שירות לקוחות
sherut lekokhot
“customer service”

40.  אסטרטגיה

41.  ציוד

42.  חומר גלם
khomer gelem
“raw material”

43.  סניף
“branch” (as in the branch of a business, bank, etc.)

44.  קוד לבוש
kod levush
“dress code”

45.  אחריות

46.  חקר שוק
kheiker shuk
“market research”

47.  אישור

48.  קנס

49.  מטה

50.  מסחרי
“commercial” (adj.)

מילים מתחום הרפואה (“Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words)

Surgeon Performing Operation

In this section, we’ll cover some advanced vocabulary in Hebrew from the medical realm. These words can be useful whether you plan to study medicine or simply want to be prepared for any medical emergencies that may come up. You’ll notice that our list features a mix of unique Hebrew words and cognates, or words that share a common root with their English equivalents. These cognates should be more familiar to you, even if the pronunciation throws you for a loop.

51.     רופא מנתח/רופאה מנתחת
rofe menate’akh/rof’ah menatakhat

52.     אשפוז
“inpatient treatment”

53.     חדר מיון
khadar miyun
“ER” / “triage”

54.     טיפול נמרץ
tipul nimratz
“intensive care”

55.     כירורגיה

56.     בית מרקחת
beit mirkakhat

57.     מרשם

58.     זריקה

59.     בדיקה רפואית
b’dikah refu’it
“medical test”

60.  גבס

61.  אבחנה

62.  שפעת

63.  פצע

64.  שבר
“break” / “fracture”

65.  תסמונת

66.  שבץ

67.  התקף לב
hetkef lev
“heart attack”

68.  להתעלף
“to faint”

69.  פרכוס

70.  שיתוק

71.  נמק

72.  זיהום

73.  עורק

74.  וריד

75.  מטופל/ת

מילים מעולם המשפטים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology)

Scales of Justice and Law Books

Next up, let’s review some legalese. As in any language, there is a lot of legal terminology in Hebrew designed only for lawyers to understand. That said, you definitely want to arm yourself with some basic knowledge so that you can understand things like rental and other contracts. Knowing these words will also help you follow any legal stories you may see on the news, such as the perennial trials of Israeli politicians—even the prime minister himself!

76.     להאשים
“to accuse”

77.     לתבוע
“to sue”

78.     לטעון
“to charge” / “to claim”

79.     ערעור

80.     לעצור
“to arrest”

81.     תיק

82.     בית משפט
beit mishpat

83.     להרשיע
“to convict”

84.     עונש מוות
‘onesh mavet
“death penalty”

85.  פשע

86.  זיוף

87.  בית כלא
beit kele

88.  עבריין צעיר/עבריינית צעירה
‘avaryan tza’ir/’avaryanit tze’irah
“juvenile delinquent”

89.  עוון

90.  שבועת שקר
shvu’at sheker

91.  פסק דין
pesek din

92.  הברחה

93.  עד

94.  הסגת גבול
hasagat gvul

95.  תקופת מבחן
tkufat mivkhan

96.  מאסר בית
ma’asar bayit
“house arrest”

97.  רצח

98.  רשלנות

99.  עורך/עורכת דין
‘orekh/’orekhet din

100.  הונאה

מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)

Students Writing in Classroom

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most useful words for academic writing. Most of these words are considered linkers (in Hebrew מילות חיבור, milot khibur), which you can think of as the mortar that holds the bricks—the main words of your writing—together in a solid structure. We have included here a broad array of linkers, including linkers of time, comparison, addition, causality, and more. You’ll definitely want to learn these advanced-level Hebrew words if you plan on studying at any Hebrew institution of higher learning, but they are just as useful for writing emails and even longer texts.

101.     במרוצת
“during” / “throughout”

102.     בשלהי
“at the end of”

103.     טרם
“prior to” / “before”

104.     על מנת
‘al menat
“in order to”

105.     מפני ש…
mipnei she…
“due to the fact that”

106.     לאור
“in light of”

107.     היות ש…
heyot she…
“considering that”

108.     בעקבות
“due to”

109.     עקב

110.  במילים אחרות
be-milim akherot
“in other words”

111.  בניסוח אחר
be-nisu’akh akher
“to put it another way”

112.  כלומר
“which is to say”

113.  יתרה מזאת
yeterah mi-zot
“in addition”

114. בנוסף לכך
be-nosaf le-khakh

115.  כמו כן
kmo khen

116.  בדומה לכך
be-domeh le-khakh

117.  מעבר לכך
mei-‘ever le-khakh
“what is more”

118.  כפי ש…
k’fi she…
“just as”

119.  אולם

120.  בניגוד לכך
be-nigud le-khakh
“in contrast”

121.  במקרה ש…
be-mikreh she…
“in the case of”

122.  אלמלא
“were it not for”

123.  אילו
“if (only)”

124.  בתנאי ש…
bi-tnai she…
“as long as”

125.  אלא אם כן
ela im ken

126.  כידוע
“as is known”

127.  כאמור
“as stated”

128.  כנזכר לעיל
ka-nizkar le-‘eil
“as mentioned previously”

129.  כלומר
“which is to say”

130.  משמע
“that is” / “meaning”

131.  דהיינו

132.  למשל
“for example”

133.  כגון
“such as”

134.  פירושו של דבר
perusho shel davar
“which means that”

135.  אכן

136.  אומנם
“while” / “although”

137.  בייחוד

138.  יש להדגיש
yesh lehadgish
“it should be emphasized”

139.  ללא ספק
lelo safek

140.  ראשית

141.  שנית

142.  תחילה
“first of all”

143.  לבסוף

144.  לאור כל זאת
le-or kol zot
“in light of all the above”

145.  לסיכום
“in conclusion”

146.  נראה אפוא ש…
nir’eh eifo she…
“it would seem that indeed”

147.  משתמע מכך
mishtame’a mi-kakh
“as such”

148.  על אחת כמה וכמה
‘al akhat kamah ve-khamah
“all the more so”

149.  כל שכן
kol she-ken
“much less”

150.  קל וחומר
kal va-khomer
“let alone”

Level up with HebrewPod101!

We hope you’ve found our list of advanced Hebrew vocabulary words helpful and interesting. While 150 words is a lot to digest, as long as you take it a morsel at a time and make sure to practice and review, you’ll find yourself retaining quite a lot. As we always suggest, it is best to focus on a single set of words rather than attempting to tackle the whole list at once. You can do this by category, by starting letter, by part of speech, or by any other method that feels comfortable. As long as it works for you, go for it!

Just don’t forget to practice the vocabulary frequently, whether you do this using flashcards, lists, or other means. Practice makes perfect, and nowhere is that truer than when expanding your vocabulary in a foreign language. For some expert tips on building and retaining vocabulary, check out this article. You can also continue learning by heading over to our curated collection of advanced Hebrew lessons

Are there any other advanced Hebrew word categories you’d like for us to add? Any words you’ve come across that you’re unsure how to use? Feel free to get in touch with us, and our friendly team of Hebrew experts will be happy to help you out. 

Until next time, shalom!

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

Learn the Names of Animals in Hebrew


Does a whole lesson on animals in Hebrew seem like a bunch of monkey business to you? Well, we’re not horsing around today! As any schoolchild knows, animal names are a basic component of any language. And in Hebrew, there are some particular reasons this is true. First, as a country that engages heavily in agriculture, Israel is full of domesticated animals (particularly in the country, as well as in kibbutzim and moshavim). Secondly, Israel’s natural fauna abounds, including some animals that are indigenous to Israel. And finally, the Bible itself mentions over 120 species of animals, so many of the Hebrew animal names go back thousands of years.

An additional reason to learn Hebrew words for animals is that Israelis are big pet lovers. Around a third of Israelis have some sort of pet, with dogs and cats taking the lead. Still, there is no shortage of other animals, like birds, reptiles, and rodents, to be found in Israeli homes. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s always good to rest the brain from grammar and other serious linguistic endeavors once in a while and to just have fun!

Today’s lesson will cover the top 80 Hebrew animal names and words related to animals, including some key animal body parts and a few common expressions related to animals. Don’t chicken out now! You don’t have to learn all 80 at once. Just pick a handful at a time, and stay focused on those. The lion’s share of these words are easy enough to pronounce and remember, so let’s jump in and grab this bull by the horns!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Pets (חיות מחמד, khayot makhmad)
  2. Farm Animals (חיות משק, khayot meshek)
  3. Wild Animals (חיות בר, khayot bar)
  4. Marine Life (החיים הימיים, Ha-Khayim ha-yamiyim)
  5. Insects (חרקים, kharakim)
  6. Birds (ציפורים, tziporim), Reptiles (זוחלים, zokhalim) & Amphibians (דו-חיים, du-khayim)
  7. Animal Body Parts (חלקי גוף של בעלי חיים, khelkey guf shel ba’aley khayim)
  8. Animal-Related Idioms & Slang
  9. No need to go lone wolf with your Hebrew! Let HebrewPod101 get you to the head of the pack.

1. Pets (חיות מחמד, khayot makhmad)


The most obvious place to start is with pets. After all, these are the animals most of us are likely to encounter on a daily basis. Israel is very much a pet-friendly society, with Tel Aviv even hosting a festival just for dogs! Israelis’ top choices for pets won’t strike you as much of a surprise, as they’re pretty much in line with Western pets. 

Now, let’s have a look at the most common pets in Hebrew. Note that in many cases, these words are gendered, so you want to try to use the correct form—either masculine or feminine—depending on the gender of the animal.

1. כלב/ה

2. חתול/חתולה

3. דג

4. אוגר

5. עכבר

6. ציפור
* Note that this word is always feminine.

7. תוכי

8. יונה

9. צב

10. נחש

2. Farm Animals (חיות משק, khayot meshek)

Man Plowing with Oxen

Are you interested in singing Israel’s equivalent of Old MacDonald (לדוד משה היתה חווה – Le-Dod Mosheh haytah khavah – “Uncle Moshe Had a Farm”)? Or are you considering spending some time in a kibbutz? In either case, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common domesticated animals you’re likely to find in a farm setting. 

Israel is a heavily agricultural country, so you can expect to see little farms anywhere outside of the big cities. Here are the top farm animals in Hebrew. Note that in some cases, the masculine and feminine words are completely different (like “cow” and “bull” in English).

11. פרה

12. שור
* Note that the word for livestock in Hebrew is בקר (bakar).

13. חזיר/חזירה

14. חמור/אתון

15. תרנגול/תרנגולת

16. ברווז

17. סוס/סוסה

18. תיש/עז
tayish/ ‘ez

19. כבש/כבשה
* Note that the word for “flock(s)” of sheep or goats in Hebrew is צאן (tzon).

20. תרנגול הודו
tarnegol Hodu
“turkey” (literally: “Indian chicken” – There would seem to be some disagreement over the geographical origins of this bird!)

3. Wild Animals (חיות בר, khayot bar)

Lion hunting zebras

Now let’s have a look at some of the most popular wild animals. You can see some of these at Israel’s various nature reserves (such as Ein Gedi) or at the singular Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Unfortunately, due to the density of its population, many species indigenous to Israel—such as mountain gazelles and ibexes—are less common a sight than in times past. Hopefully, conservation efforts will manage to preserve these species not only in zoos and safaris but also in the wild. 

Here are the names of common wild animals in Hebrew:

21. נמר/ה

22. פיל/ה

23. דוב/ה

24. שועל

25. תן

26. היפופוטם

27. ג’ירפה

28. אריה/לביאה

29. צבי/איילה

30. יעל

4. Marine Life (החיים הימיים, Ha-Khayim ha-yamiyim)

Sea Shells

As you probably know, Israel enjoys access to two different coastlines—the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Eilat (a.k.a. the Gulf of Aqaba)—as well as the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, both of which are actually large lakes. Going to the beach is a huge part of Israeli culture, so it’s a good idea to brush up on some of the top words for marine animals. Let’s have a look!

31. כריש

32. לוויתן
* Note that this Hebrew word is the root of English’s leviathan.

33. דולפין

34. תמנון

35. חסילון

36. סוסון ים
suson yam

37. סרטן
* Note that this word also means cancer.

38. אלמוג

39. מדוזה

40. אצות

5. Insects (חרקים, kharakim)


No examination of Hebrew animal words would be complete without a discussion of insects and other creepy-crawlies. Israel is no stranger to bugs, whether in terms of the locusts and lice mentioned in the Bible, the malarial mosquitoes that plagued modern settlers in the pre-state years, or the ticks that our dogs and cats bring home from the woods. Here are the top words you need to know for naming insects in Hebrew.

41. מקק
* Note that the word ג’וק (juk) can also be used to refer to cockroaches.

42. עכביש

43. זבוב

44. יתוש

45. קרציה

46. שפירית

47. גחלילית

48. עקרב

49. דבורה

50. צרעה

6. Birds (ציפורים, tziporim), Reptiles (זוחלים, zokhalim) & Amphibians (דו-חיים, du-khayim)

For our last category of animal names in Hebrew, let’s take a glance at the most common birds, reptiles, and amphibians you’re likely to encounter in the Holy Land. 

Because of Israel’s location smack-dab in the middle of where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet, countless birds fly through the country each year on their migration paths—apart from the many native bird species living in Israel. In fact, Israeli aircraft are even forbidden from interfering with the flight paths of migratory birds!

Israel is also no stranger to reptiles, with 97 distinct species represented in the country. Though extinction rates have been relatively low for reptiles, crocodiles, which are mentioned in the Bible as being indigenous to Israel, are today no longer among Israel’s wild species—for better or worse!

A- Birds

Birds Silhouetted in Sky

51. שחף

52. ינשוף

53. נשר

54. נקר

55. עיט

B- Reptiles & Amphibians


56. צפרדע

57. לטאה

58. שממית

59. צב יבשה
tzav yabashah

60. סלמנדרה

7. Animal Body Parts (חלקי גוף של בעלי חיים, khelkey guf shel ba’aley khayim)

Vet Examining Dog

Now that we’ve covered the more common animal species to be found in Israel, let’s have a look at some words for describing animal anatomy. As in English and most other languages, Hebrew has unique words to refer to the body parts of fauna, distinct from those used to describe the human body. Here are the ones you are most likely to use:

61. כנף
* Note that the plural for this word uses the dual form suffix -יים, and is כנפיים (kenafayim).

62. זנב

63. טופר

64. קרן
* Note that the plural for this word uses the dual form suffix -יים, and is קרניים (karnayim).

65. נוצה

66. פרסה

67. חוטם

68. מקור

69. קשקש

70. צדף

Want more? See our word list Sounds That Animals Make

8. Animal-Related Idioms & Slang

Black and White Sheep

Last but not least, let’s see some idioms, slang words, and other expressions that use animal names in Hebrew. Like English, the Hebrew language has a slew of such words and phrases. This should come as no surprise, considering the Jewish people’s ancient roots in farming and husbandry. In fact, animal-related language is probably one of the most colorful categories of Hebrew. Let’s see some choice examples.

71. כבשה שחורה
kivsah sh’khorah
“black sheep”

  • כולנו במשפחה למדנו באוניברסיטה חוץ מאחותי, הכבשה השחורה, אשר עובדת בבסטות בחו”ל כבר חמש שנים.
    Kulanu ba-mishpakhah lamadnu ba-universitah khutz me-akhoti, ha-kivsah ha-sh’khorah, asher ‘ovedet be-bastot be-khul kvar khamesh shanim.
    “All of us in the family studied at university except for my sister, the black sheep, who has been working in market stalls abroad for five years now.”

72. כמו דג במים
k’mo dag ba-mayim
“like a fish in water”

  • כל פעם שאני חוזר לקיבוץ, אני מרגיש כמו דג במים.
    Kol pa’am she-ani khozer la-kibbutz, ani margish k’mo dag ba-mayim.
    “Every time I go back to the kibbutz, I feel just like a fish in water.”

73. להשתפן
“to chicken out” (literally: “to act like a rabbit”)

  • אל תשתפן! קפוץ כבר! המים עמוקים.
    Al tishtafen! Kfotz kvar! Ha-mayim ‘amukim.
    “Don’t chicken out! Jump already! The water is deep.”

74. דיר חזירים
dir khazirim

  • אמרתי לכם לנקות כבר את דיר החזירים הזה!
    Amarti lakhem lenakot kvar et dir ha-khazirim ha-zeh!
    “I told you to clean up this pigsty already!”

75. מבט ממעוף ציפור
mabat mi-me’of tzipor
“bird’s eye view”

  • איזה נוף! יש לנו מבט ממעוף הציפור על כל העיר.
    Eyzeh nof! Yeish lanu mabat mi-ma’of ha-tzipor al kol ha-’ir.
    “What a view! We’ve got a bird’s eye view of the entire city.”

76. כמעוף הדבורה
ke-ma’of ha-devorah

  • מתחיל כבר להחשיך. רוצי הביתה כמעוף הדבורה!
    Matkhil kvar le-hakhshikh. Rutzi ha-baytah ke-ma’of ha-devorah!
    “It’s getting dark already. Run and make a beeline for home!”

77. חזק כשור
khazak kmo shor
“strong as an ox”

  • ראית את העובד החדש במחסן? הוא חזר כשור!
    Ra’it et ha-’oved ha-khadash ba-makhsan? Hu khazak kmo shor!
    “Have you seen the new employee in the warehouse? He’s strong as an ox!”

78. שעיר לעזאזל
sa’ir la-’Azazel

  • אל תנסו לעשות ממני שעיר לעזאזל. מה שקרה זה לא באשמתי.
    Al tenasu la’asot mimeni sa’ir la-’Azazel. Mah she-karah zeh lo be-ashmati.
    “Don’t try to make a scapegoat out of me. What happened isn’t my fault.”

79. נחש בעשב
nakhash ba-‘esev
“snake in the grass”

  • אני לא סומך עליו בכלל. הוא סתם עוד נחש בעשב.
    Ani lo somekh ‘alav bikhlal. Hu stam ‘od nakhash ba-’esev.
    “I don’t trust him at all. He’s just another snake in the grass.”

80. החלק הארי
ha-khelek ha-ari
“the lion’s share”

  • בואו נודה בכך שדפנה עשתה את החלק הארי של העבודה.
    Bo’u nodeh be-khakh she-Dafnah ‘astah et ha-khelek ha-ari shel ha-’avodah.
    “Let’s just admit that Dafna did the lion’s share of the work.”

9. No need to go lone wolf with your Hebrew! Let HebrewPod101 get you to the head of the pack.

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on animals in the Hebrew language. We here at HebrewPod101 know that sometimes studying a new language can make you feel like you’re a fish out of water, but that’s why we’re here: to make sure you’ve got a school to swim with. Our lessons are carefully crafted to cover all the topics you’ll need to master on your language learning journey while having a whale of a time.

So don’t sweat it! Just remember that mastering a language, like any large and long-term project, is best done a bit at a time. Whether it’s vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation, we always encourage our students not to bite off more than they can chew in one sitting. Just pick a reasonable amount of language and, once you’ve gone through it, make sure to review everything! 

Have fun checking out our thousands of other written and audiovisual lessons, where we cover a broad range of topics and situations, from ordering at a restaurant to the top Hebrew-language music artists and TV shows.

Before you go: What’s your favorite animal? Do you remember its name in Hebrew?

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