All posts by Mark

Ben-Yehuda The Movie

Eliezer Ben Yehudah Father of Modern HebrewThere is an exciting new movie  scheduled to be released in 2014 about the life of the creator of Modern Hebrew, Eliezer Ben Yehudah. Using his knowledge of Hebrew his family became the first Hebrew speaking family since Roman times. It hopes to gain an audience of Jews and Christians alike to tell the story this fascinating and influential man who changed the state of Israel forever.

http://yehudamovie.com/

From the production company:

CoDe Pictures presents a movie about Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew. A man born in the Russian Empire in 1858, great in intellect, small in stature and frail from a lifetime of Tuberculosis.
He believed in the symbiotic relationship between the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil and the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language. For his conviction, he was ostracized, persecuted and even imprisoned. This frail man suffered greatly, but the power of his conviction never diminished!
For everything there is needed only one wise, clever and active man, with the initiative to devote all his energies to it… one pioneer who will lead the way without leaving any possibility of turning back.”  –Eliezer Ben-Yehuda
It’s really more than a movie: it’s a movement to honor the founders of modern Israel.

 

Short History of Hebrew

Hebrew is a 3,000 year old linguistic miracle. It’s the language of the Bible, Jewish literature, Jewish lituragy, and the modern State of Israel.  While it’s essentially remained the same language it has evolved and changed significantly over time.  Hebrew is a Semitic language belonging to the Afro Asiatic family of languages.  It’s currently spoken by over 7 million people who live in Israel or are expatriates and by people who have learned it all over the world.  Hebrew is also spoken amongst Arab Israelis and Palestinians due to Israel’s tremendous economic power.

There are many different versions and dialects of Hebrew ranging from different time periods and regions.  However, there are two broad categories, Classical Hebrew (ancient Hebrew) and Modern Hebrew.  Classical Hebrew is the language of the Jewish bible, also known as the Old Testament.  Classical Hebrew is still widely used throughout the world for in Jewish communities.  It’s been preserved in the writings, prayer, and literature of Jewish communities.

When Hebrew is learnt as part of religious studies, Classical Hebrew is commonly learned.  If Hebrew is being studied as a foreign language, people study Modern Hebrew.  Knowledge of one doesn’t guarantee the ability to understand the other, normally as a result of vocabulary and usage.  Before beginning to study Hebrew one should consider which their purpose of learning Hebrew is to better determine which form they should study.

Hebrew was the language of the tribes of Israel and the language of the Bible.  It remained relatively stable as a spoken language until the Babylonian exile.  After the Babylonian exile Hebrew began to be heavily influenced by Aramaic, principally in vocabulary but also in grammar.  During this time Hebrew was also heavily influenced by Greek.  Hebrew slowly lost ground to Aramaic and was eventually supplanted by it as the spoken language of the Jews.  However, it remained the position of being the language of communication and religion for the Jewish people.

The 10th century brought many advances for Hebrew.  Jews, influenced by Arab scholars, began to formally study the grammar of the language.  Around the same time a system of representing vowels was also introduced.

The 19th century brought the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Eliezer ben Yehudah.  Hebrew spread and became the official language of the Jewish state, Israel.  Hebrew was largely influenced by foreign words and grammar by its learners.  A simplified version of Sefardi Hebrew was chosen to be the pronunciation.  Hebrew holds the unique title of being the only language to die as a spoken language and then later revived.

Today Hebrew is a unifying force amongst Jews all over the world.  The reasons of learning it are as relevant as ever, whether it is for religious purposes or as a foreign language.

Distinguishing between a Kamatz Gadol and Kamatz Katan

Background Needed to Understand this Article:

1) what a syllable is

2) what a consonant and vowel are

3) general understand of what a שוא נע נח

4) know that the accent is generally on the last syllable, and know that sometimes it changes

Introduction:

Of the twelve unique vowel signs the most misunderstood is the kamatz.  There are several factors which lead to confusion. One being that the kamatz is unique in that all other vowel signs only represent one sound but the kamatz represents two separate sounds, the kamatz gadol and kamatz katan. This factor prevents many people from realizing that this vowel sign produces two different sounds.

Another cause of confusion is that the reasons that cause a difference between the two are unfamiliar to most, even to those with a firm grasp of Hebrew grammar. Also, for those interested in learning the differences there are few clear resources.  The differences might be thought of as non-consequential and therefore trivial to learn but they’re important to know because of the role they play in correct pronunciation for all pronunciation systems and sometimes even the meaning of words.

Kamatz Katan in Print:

Some siddurim do however differentiate between the two.  One method of distinguishing the two is by printing a kamatz katan with a long vertical line.  Since this is counter intuitive to the name ‘kamatz katan,’ this method has been criticized as being confusing.  It’s also hard to discern the difference when reading quickly.  Another method used to differentiate is to bold the kamatz katan.  The advantage of this method is it easily focuses the attention of the reading to the more uncommon kamataz katan.  This method is commonly used in tikkunim.  Outside of siddurim and tikkunim the practice of differentiated in print between a kamatz gadol and kamatz katan are virtually nonexistent.

Differences in Pronunciation:

The differences in the pronunciation vary between Ashkenazi, Sefardi, and Temani pronunciation.  In the pronunciation of the vowel itself the difference is audible only for followers of the Sefardic tradition who pronounce a kamatz katan as a cholem, ‘o’ (IPA oʊ).  For Ashkenazim and Temanim there isn’t a difference in pronunciation of the letter itself, they both pronounce the kamatz katan the same as a kamatz gadol, ‘uh’. (IPA ʌ)

The type of kamatz plays a role in pronunciation of the word beyond just the vowel underneath the letter.  This is due to the fact that one of five rules which determine if a shva is a shva nach or shva na is if the based on if the preceding vowel is a long vowel or a short vowel.  The type of kamatz determines the type of shva.

A shva after the vowel will be Type of Vowel
na long
nach short

A kamatz gadol is a long vowel making the following shva a shva na.  A kamatz katan is a short vowel making the following shva a shva nach.

Open and Closed Syllables:

Any syllable can be defined as either open or closed.  The description of being open or closed isn’t limited to syllables at the end of a sentence; it can also describe syllables in the middle of a word.

A “closed syllable” refers to a syllable that has a consonant after it.  The consonant ‘closes’ the sound of the syllable.  For example the word דָּג. The gimmel closes the sound of the kamatz before it.

An “open syllable” refers to a vowel that doesn’t have a consonant after it.  There isn’t a consonant to ‘close’ the sound of the vowel.  For example the word עָשִׁיתָ ends without a consonant “closing” the kamatz under the tav.

There are two different kinds of open syllables nach nirah and nach nister.  The word nach is derived from the root נוח meaning rest, to describe how the syllable ‘rests’ i.e. how it ends.

A nach nister is a type of open syllable that doesn’t have any letters written after the vowel sound.  Referring back to our example earlier, the tav of עָשִׁיתָ lacks any thing written after the final vowel sound.

In contrast, nach nirah is a type of open vowel that has an unpronounced letter after the vowel sound which ‘closes the vowel’ in writing but not in pronunciation. For example the resh in the word בָּרָא is pronounced with an open vowel, the kamatz under the reish.  The aleph isn’t pronounced but in writing it ‘closes off’ the vowel making it a nach nirah.  It’s referred to as a nach nirah because the ‘resting’ (or finishing) of the vowel is visible, nirah, in writing.  Non-consonant letters that close a vowel making a word end in a nach nirah are א, ה, כף סופית with a קמץ, or ת with a kamatz.

Diagram of Vowels Types:

Diagram of Vowels Types

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules for Distinguishing:

After having established the difference in pronunciation and grammar it’s important to explain how one can grammatically distinguish between a kamatz gadol and kamatz katan.

In order for a kamatz to be a kamatz katan it has to meet two criteria: 1) the kamatz is closed syllable 2) the syllable is unaccented.  The following are five general rules for telling if a kamatz meets those requirements and is therefore a kamatz katan.

1.  A kamatz before a shva (and the letter with a kamatz doesn’t have a  טעםor מתג)

Example: קָרְבָּן

2.  A קמץ before a letter with a דגש

Example: שמות טו:ב עָזִּי

3.  A chataf kamatz is always a kamatz katan

Example: קֳדָשִׁים

4.  This rule only applies to two words connected by a מקף and the first word in the pair meets two conditions.  The first condition is that the penultimate letter has a kamatz and the second condition is that the word ends in a nach nirah.

Example: תִּזְכָּר-לָנוּ

5.   This rule only occurs with roots that have a ו”ו as the middle root like קום or גור or שוב. The change is a result of a ו”ו ההיפוך changing the word from future to past.  Each root letter takes a kamatz underneath and the second kamatz is a kamatz katan.

While the application of this rule would seem limited it occurs several times in the Torah like in בראשית כד:סא with the word וַתָּקָם

This form doesn’t exist in Modern Hebrew because it lacks the ו”ו ההיפוך.

What causes a Kamatz Katan:

After discussing the differences between a קמץ גדול and קמץ קטן and how to distinguish them it’s worthwhile to understand what causes a קמץ קטן.

Why Rule 1 Produces a Kamatz Katan:

Many regular nouns, mostly segolate nouns, change their spelling when put into their plural forms () or possessive suffixes are added (e.g. חַרְבּוֹ חֶרֶב+וֹ←).  This change in spelling is normally occurs without complication. A problem does arise however with spelling changes involving a cholem, the cholem changes to a kamatz.  When the cholem becomes a kamatz it comes before a shva nach and in an unstressed position, resulting in fulfilling both criteria for a kamatz katan. For example, אֹזֶן, when a possessive suffix is added forms  .אָזְנוֹ Notice how the vowel under the first letter which was a חולם is now קמץ.

Why Rule 2 Produces a Kamatz Katan:

A similar phenomenon occurs with the word עֹז changed into the possessive form becoming עָזִּי.  Notice again a letter that had a cholem now has a קמץ.  The kamatz comes before a zayin with a dagesh chazak.  A dagesh chazak acts as a doubled consonant, the first of which is nach, as if it were written עָזְזִי.  Therefore the dagesh chazak makes it as if the kamatz was before a shva nach.

We see that the second rule could be thought of as an extension of the first rule.  That by having a kamatz before a letter with dagesh it’s as if the kamatz is before a shva nach.

Why Rule 3 Produces a Kamatz Katan:

The word קֹדֶשׁ has a חולם above the ק.  When changed into the plural it becomes קֳדָשִׁים.  The kamatz underneath the kuf is a chataf kamatz, which is always a kamatz katan.  The question that logically follows is why did the cholem change into a chataf kamatz.

In short, this change is very similar to the way nekudos change when conjugating other words.  For example לוֹמְדִים ← לוֹמֵד.  The tzere becomes a shva when conjugated.  Similar verbs will follow this pattern, the second root letter will take a shva.  However, a problem occurs when the letter that is supposed to take a shva is a guttural letter (א ה ח ע), there is rule that a guttural letter can’t have a shva underneath it.  Instead, a shva combines with another symbol making a chataf, ֱ ֲ ֳ.  In the case of שׁוֹאֵל becoming שׁואֲלִים.

שׁואֲלִים ← שׁוֹאֵל

In a similar case, דַּבַר changes to דְּבָרִים.  The patach underneath the daled changed to a shva.  When a similar word such as קֹדֶשׁ is conjugated, a shva should be placed underneath the first letter.  However, since it’s guttural, the shva underneath the guttural combines with a kamatz forming a chataf kamatz.  What previously was a cholem is not a kamatz katan.

Why Rule 4 Produces a Kamatz Katan:

The first word if not connected with a מקף would be would have the accent on the last syllable.  When it’s connected to another word the accent shifts to the second word.  The fulfills the criteria of a kamatz katan occurring in an unaccented syllable.  If the first word also ends in a nach nistar it’s fulfilled both criteria and is a kamatz katan.

One still might wonder why the kamatz under the khof of כל is a kamatz to begin with.   Words often change their spelling when they are in their smichut form.  Words connected with a מקף are also put into their smichut forms.  For example, the regular spelling of ‘כֹּל,’ but when combined with a מקף changes to its smichut spelling, כָּל. For example בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ.  The kamatz of כל also fulfills both criteria, its unaccented because the accent has shifted to the second word and it ends in a nach nira, the lamed closes the sound.

Why Rule 5 Produces a Kamatz Katan:

In a word similar to וַתָּקָם the kamatz underneath the kuf is

Generally, in Hebrew the accent is on the last sound of a word.  יָקוּֽם.  But when a word has a ו”ו ההיפוך the word becomes מלעיל i.e. the accent moves to the penultimate vowel,  .וַתָּֽקָםThe last kamatz now fulfills both criteria for a kamatz katan, closed and unaccented.

The word is מלעיל (the accent isn’t on the last syllable) because of the ו”ו ההיפוך.

Other Methods of Distinguishing:

As a rule, most kamatzim are kamatzim gedolim.  Another rule is that if a trope or a meteg is on a kamatz it will always be a kamatz gadol (גר”א).  This is because a trope or meteg means the kamatz is accented and a kamatz katan can only occur in an unaccented syllable.

A trick can be used to determine the type of kamatz. If a siddur marks the difference between a shva na and shva nach by any means (a common methods are bolding the shva or by placing a symbol above a shva that is na). If the shva after a kamatz is nach the kamatz will be a kamatz katan.

Hebrew Pronouns

Hebrew                Phonetic                  Usual Transliteration                English  Translation

אֲנִי                          a-nee                                    ani                                          I

אַתָּה                        a-tah                                     ata                                          you (m. sg.)

אַתְּ                          at                                            at                                           you (f. sg.)

הוּא                         hoo                                        hu                                           he

הִיא                         hee                                        hi                                            she

אֲנַחְנוּ                      a-nakh-nu                           anakhnu                                we

אַתֶּם                       ah-tem                                  atem                                      you (m. pl.)

אַתֶּן                         ah-ten                                  aten                                       you (f. pl.)

הֵם                          hem                                       hem                                      they (m. pl.)

הֵן                           hen                                        hen                                       they (f. pl.)

Hamas Says Hebrew is the Language of the Enemy

A recent New York Times article details how Hamas plans to teach Hebrew in schools.  Hamas plans to offer a course this fall to teach Hebrew called “Know Your Enemy.”  You might have imagined that Hebrew was already being taught in Gazan schools, but in fact, it’s been nearly two decades since it was taught in Gaza’s schools.  Hebrew was chosen, after much heated debate, to be the next foreign language offered along with French.  It beat out Turkish and German.

Mahmoud Matar, the director general of the Hamas-run Ministry of Education offered his opinion on the addition of Hebrew to the curriculum.  “Through the Hebrew language we can understand the structure of the Israeli society, the way they think.”  “The Arabic language is a basic thing for the Israelis, and they use it to achieve what they want,” Dr. Matar added. “We look at Israel as an enemy. We teach our students the language of the enemy.”

Eduction is something that the Gaza Strip prides itself on.  The illiteracy rate among the youth was less than 1% in 2012, according to the World Bank, and there are five universities within its 139 square miles.  However, education hasn’t come without challenges.  Many schools are dilapidated and hold classes of 50 or mores students who meet in triple shifts.  The United Nations World Relief Agency is building eight new schools, but officials report that the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza are expected to double in a generation and need a hundred more.

The Education Ministry will most likely use photocopied worksheets instead of buying textbooks from Israel.  There will eventually be four levels of Hebrew, starting with the ninth grade offered to both boys and girls, who attend separate classes.  It will begin in 10 to 20 schools in September, depending on interest and the availability of teachers, Dr. Matar said, and expand to all of Gaza’s 180 high schools if successful.

The Palestinian Authority does not teach Hebrew in its schools and has no plans of doing so.  In Israel, Arabic has long been a staple of the curriculum.  In the middle schools it’s compulsory and about 350,000 students enrolled in it.  Recently, Arabic has been expanded as an optional course in fifth and sixth grade with 15,000 enrolled.  In Israeli high schools about 10,000 are studying Arabic, according to the Ministry of Education.

Both Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages that share as much as 40 percent of their grammar and word roots, experts say. The numbers and parts of the body sound similar — head is “ras” in Arabic, “rosh” in Hebrew — as do the words for right and left, and every day: kol yom. Both are written and read from right to left.

Rabbi Dr. Ahron Lichtenstein loves Hebrew

Found on Rabbi Nassan Slifkin’s Rationalist Judaism article The “Da’as” in Da’as Torah links to this unofficial transcript of a speech given  Rabbi Dr. Ahron Lichtenstein about Da’as Torah.

“The Sifri and the Talmud in Sanhedrin (17:A) establish that one should elect dayanim to the
Sanhedrin who are fluent in seventy languages. The Netziv explains that mastery of
numerous ‘languages’ grants a dayan exposure to various cultures and forms of wisdom. The
dayan described by the Netziv is a person who is open, well educated, and possesses broad
horizons. This stands in complete contrast to a dayan who encloses himself in the ‘four
cubits’ of halacha, to the extent that he is not even fluent in Hebrew, and when he reaches a
comment of Rashi that deals with grammatical issues, he is accustomed to skip it, and I need
not say more.

Did this dayan never learn or hear about the resolute comments of the Gra in the ‘Sifra
D’Tzniuta’ on the great importance of delving into linguistics and in praise of the study of
grammar?

There are so many rabbis and halachic scholars nowadays who do not merely lack knowledge
of ‘seventy languages’, or even two languages, but in actual fact they do not possess mastery
of their one and only language! They find grammar difficult and their speech is garbled.”

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Submitted Questions

This is the start of my new series of reader submitted questions. Questions and Answers about Hebrew I’m currently in the process of taking the questions of been asked in person and via email and formatting them to be published online.  This is just the first letter, expect more to come.  If you’d like to add to this list please feel free to contact me and ask me a question.  You can contact me via my contact form here.

Letter 1#

To whom it may concern,

Can you help me find out some information on the Hebrew language?

I’m sure that you are familiar with verb/noun tables such as those of Dr. Shaul Barclay, Asher Tammon, Barron’s, etc. As far as I know, Dr. Barclay’s tables are the most complete tables on the market. However, they have a great shortcoming: they only have an alphabetical index of lexemes that then refers you to tables. I want to see a list of tables that refers you to the lexemes that are represented by the tables. Could you please point me in the right direction?

Response: Hello (name withheld)

You’re right, Dr. Barclay’s tables are the most complete tables available.  Dr. Barclay has two different books of tables, one for verbs and the other for nouns.  The book for verbs lists verb paradigms based on verb irregularities and then lists how they would be conjugated in all their forms (present, future, past and in different genders and number).  The book of noun tables is similar in that it lists noun paradigms and then all of the different variations (present, future, past and in different genders and number) and possessive noun suffixes.

What you’ve described would be very interesting and helpful.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it exists yet.  I’ve looked for similar tables and only found the authors you mentioned.  Additionally, I haven’t found anything comprehensive in academic publications.  My guess is that it’s a lot of work and not in demand.  Also, a potential author would have to decide what vocabulary they wouldn’t want to include or not include.\ i.e. would the list include only Biblical Hebrew or also Modern Hebrew.

If you would be interested in just raw data, one option might be to contact the linguistics department at several Israeli universities and see what they can offer you.  They might have a large corpus that’s tagged according to the parameters that interest you.

I’m currently working on a table of Hebrew verb infinitives, however, it too won’t offer a list of lexemes corresponding to the items in the tables.  When it becomes available it will be sold on this site.

Learn Hebrew in Cleveland

I began my career as a Hebrew teacher in 2010 when a Rabbi at Yeshivat Ohr Someyach Jerusalem approached me to teach a Hebrew class. Initially, I was hesitant to agree to teach the course.  I pushed him off for a week or two and after some convincing I finally agreed.  The course was set to begin and I was off to prepare material.

The problem was that I wasn’t satisfied with the way most books approached teaching the Hebrew language.  I wouldn’t have been satisfied copying the same boring worksheets and lessons from books. I made some small sketches of the first lesson based on one principle, “how would I have liked to learn Hebrew?”  Thankfully, I’ve been able to prepare Hebrew lessons based on this principle ever since.

Immediately, I was thrown into the role of teacher.  At first I only had a few students in my Hebrew class, but, as word spread I soon had a decent number of people interested in understand Hebrew, especially, Hebrew grammar.

I tried to keep the Hebrew lessons short, concise, and focused.  I didn’t want students to leave the class and wonder, “we talked about so many things, what did we actually discuss?”  Thankfully, the class was extremely successful.  I was proud to hear that so many students gained a better understanding of Hebrew that allowed them more easily engage Israeli’s in colloquial Hebrew as well as read religious texts easier.

Soon after, I placed signs around Jerusalem advertising Hebrew tutoring/lessons.  I was fortunate to meet a number of interesting and talented individuals.

Soon after to moving to Cleveland Ohio I considered starting my “Individual Ulpan” here in Cleveland.  Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of interest in learning Hebrew.  Despite the strong interest, there are a number of factors that make it difficult to learn Hebrew in Cleveland.  There are only a few colleges and universities in the state that offer Hebrew.  Additionally, there are fewer Israelis/Hebrew speakers available for practice.

If you are interested in reading more of my articles about Hebrew including Book Reviews, guides etc. click here

If you are interested in contacting me about Hebrew lessons click here

 

 

Easy Hebrew Newspaper goes out of Print

Easy Hebrew Newspaper: The Gate for the Beginner – Goes Out of Print

 

History of the Newspaper

Modern Cover of Shaar LaMatchil Easy Hebrew Israeli Daily Paper

The much beloved easy Hebrew, Sha’ar La’matchil (“Gate for Beginners”) newspaper that has been used by new immigrants (olim) to Israel since 1956 has been discontinued.  The last edition was published the first week of April 2012.  The final edition included a note saying, “thank all readers, teachers, and administration staff in Israel and overseas for the love they’ve shown for the newspaper during its 50 years of existence, and also thank you to those who contacted us in recent weeks and expressed concerns and support for us.”

The Education Ministry’s “Department for Spreading the Language” created the weekly newspaper in March 1956.  The newspaper clearly stated it’s purpose in it’s first edition, “On this page we want to tell you about our life in the country, in simple language. We invite you to read this page until you are able to read a daily newspaper in Hebrew.”

One occasion of note during the newspaper’s publication was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s note to readers on the occasion of its 1000th edition in June 1988.  Her wrote, “Who, more than you, readers of Sha’ar La’matchil, know about the pains and difficulties inherent in the effort to assimilate into a new society. Despite all these difficulties, it can be said that Israel’s society has succeeded in this effort to absorb new immigrants. The newspaper Sha’ar La’matchil definitely contributed to this success. Its distribution around the world enhances another undertaking which the State of Israel has assumed, the project of teaching Hebrew in the Diaspora,”

The newspaper eventually was privatized, however, it remained edited and supervised by Education Ministry official.  Initially it was published under Davar newspaper, the publisher of the Jerusalem Post, but for the past number of years it was published by Yediot Achronot.

Who read the Paper

The paper didn’t cease to have a fan base.  In fact, it’s demise has been called a “bureaucratic failure” by ministry officials.  One Ministry official commented “Under terms described in the last tender offer for rights to publish the weekly, nobody was prepared to take responsibility for the publication,” in other words, the paper simply couldn’t manage to find a publisher.

The weekly easy Hebrew newspaper was a success with a large array of students.  From Jewish olim from North America, Latin America, and Europe to Jewish and non-Jewish Hebrew language students in colleges and universities, young and elderly.

The newspaper has long served Hebrew language ulpan classes in Israel, as well as overseas students. It was read in university classrooms overseas, and by elderly persons and young students from Israel’s Arab sector. The weekly turned into a symbol of immigration to Israel and of the revival of the Hebrew language; it featured simple Hebrew syntax, diacritic marks and a fixed vocabulary − in an effort to make Hebrew accessible to immigrants to Israel and to lovers of the ancient language overseas.

What the Newspaper Offered

Sha’ar La’Matchil includes the latest news, updates and columns, offering its readers the perfect way to improve their Hebrew language while providing them with current and up to date news from Israel in easy Hebrew with vowel marks.  (continue reading for a list of all the features in the newspaper.

Why it Failed

The closing of the newspaper could also be due to marketing failures.  There aren’t copies sitting in government offices and no one anywhere along the immigration process handed out a copy or even mentioned it to Olim. I’ve spoken to many anglo-olim (English speaking immigrants to Israel) about using the newspaper.  Most of them said that they never heard of such a newspaper but probably would be interested in reading it.

The Future

After visiting the “buy now” tab on the newspaper’s website visitors receive the following message:

Dear Sha’ar La’matchil subscriber,

On April the 1st 2012 the publication of the weekly digital newspaper will end.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading the digital newspaper and hope it was a learning experience.

Your monthly payments via credit card or any alternative method of payment will be cancelled, and you will not receive any further charges.

For inquiries and any additional information, please contact customer service at

There is no information available about buying a subscription to the archives, something they should strongly consider.  Perhaps the paper could collect digital subscriptions  funds and produce a bi-annual news compendium or short easy Hebrew articles and essays.  But I doubt there is such a strong interest in a news archive but, still, learners might be willing to overlook the outdated articles in favor of the high quality easy to read Hebrew articles.

My Personal Experience with the Paper

Language learning websites frequently advise learners to read in their target language.  Finding suitable material that is both appropriate for the level of the learner and captivates their interest is extremely challenging.  When I started learning Hebrew Sha’ar le’matchil did this beautifully.  There were several levels of difficulty in the articles.  Some contained more simple vocabulary and syntax while others almost resembled an average Israeli newspaper.  The newspaper offered reader’s who struggled with grammar and exact pronunciation nekudot.  Articles didn’t seem fully menukad or without nekudot, but rather a blend between the two, that allowed readers to easily bridge the gap between material aimed towards children and early beginners to the the entire body of Hebrew literature. For me, Shaar laMatchil embodied the Israeli Oleh spirit.  It embodied the collective Israeli spirit that embraced Jews of all backgrounds and welcomed them back to their homeland.  I will miss being able to a share this paper with people learning Hebrew.

Features in the Newspaper:

News and Current Affairs: News and headlines in extremely easy Hebrew, news and information in basic Hebrew, news for the advanced reader, the week in review.

This week 60 years ago: Newspaper headlines from the early days of the State of Israel.

Introducing: Interviews with prominent individuals from all walks of life, interviews with new immigrants and individuals engaged in immigration absorption.

Small Stories from the Big World: Images and concise articles about unique or peculiar events around the world.

Home and Family: Food, health, fashion, child education, consumerism.

Culture and Art: Classics, news and recommendations for books, poetry, music, theater, dance, artwork, photography, Hebrew songs.

All in the Family: Domestic and inter-personal problems.

Gateway to Hebrew: Words, expressions, sayings, words in the news, Hebrew grammatical phenomena, Biblical language, slang, grammar books and new dictionaries.

The Weekly Portion: The narrative of the weekly portion in easy Hebrew, a discussion on the language of the portion and topics and expressions therein.

Israeli Heritage: Holidays and commemorative dates, the Jewish circle of life.

Milestones: Events in the history of Zionism and the State of Israel.

In Israel: Nature, trips.

Education and Society: Trends and quandaries in Israeli education and society.

Immigration and Absorption: Information for new and potential immigrants.

Readers Write: Readers are welcome to comment, express their views and make suggestions.

Gateway Quiz: Crossword puzzles, riddles and jokes.

Sha’ar La’Mathil

One of the older editions:

Easy Hebrew Newpaper Shaar LaMatchil

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thousandth edition:

Easy Hebrew Israeli Newspaper Shaar LeMatchil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I Learn Hebrew by Watching Movies

Learn Hebrew by watching movies, like ShrekThere are several ways you can use movies on DVD to improve your target language. There are three ways you can watch a movie in Hebrew, starting form the hardest to the easiest.

  1. Sound and subtitled in Hebrew
  2. Sound in Hebrew but subtitled in English
  3. Sound in English with Hebrew subtitles

1. Watching a movie with sound and subtitles in your target language
Movies are hard to follow if you don’t have any subtitles. Having sound and subtitles in the target language enables you to catch what you didn’t hear.  When you’re learning a language like Hebrew it’s especially important to be able to see how words are spelled.  A word like עכשיו can be easily misspelled if you’re going by sound alone.

2. Watching a movie with sound in your target language but subtitles in English
Most people prefer watching a movie in the language it was shot in.  Even the best movies are often awkwardly dubbed.   This is a great mid-level exercise that can allow someone who still isn’t 100% confident in all of Hebrew’s structures to immerse themselves in the language.  The advantage of having subtitles in English is that you can read English much faster than Hebrew but you still benefit from hearing spoken Hebrew.  Remember, for most people the ability to speak/hear are the most crucial abilities, not necessarily reading.

3. Watching a movie in English with subtitles in Hebrew.

Most people wouldn’t think of this as a valuable exercise, but it can be very powerful.  This option only exists for DVDs bought in Israel that are dubbed in English but still have Hebrew subtitles.  The advantage of this method is it’s ease.  You can still enjoy the easy to listen to English audio while scanning the subtitles.  You can walk away from an 1 1/2 long movie with tons of new real-world phrases and not feel exhausted from studying.

DVDs are a great language learning tool that shouldn’t be ignored if you are watching movies anyway.  We these through choices you can choose a language exercise that’s appropriate for language level and desired intensity.