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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.


Dikduk – Verb Conjugator Program

This incredible free program has several very powerful features.  Firstly, it allows the conjugation of any Hebrew verb by entering root letters.  It also highlights forms that appear in Tanach. Most unique and fascinating, is compare two verbs by creating parallel conjugation charts.  While this program has a print function the charts aren’t easily copied and pasted.

An absolute gem hidden the program are two PDFs written by a Grammarian named Alan Smith.  The first is called “Fundamental Concepts of the Classical Hebrew Verb” and the second is “Semi-Regular Classical Hebrew Verbs.” The first reads like a manifesto of Grammarian in which he pleads with his readers to throw out their old paradigms of verbs and tense and adopt a new system that presents.  It’s written in a conversation style that might be abrasive to some, but the information contained within this work is truly worth the read.  The second work, “Semi-Regular Classical Hebrew Verbs” is a reference work on verb irregularities.  It’s very systematic and comprehensive.  The author warns that it’s a reference work and isn’t to be read, however,  I couldn’t help myself but read several pages in one sitting.  Both of these works are fun, informative, and in English. They alone are worth the download.  When I said “hidden gem” I was serious.  They’re hidden.  Go to the ‘help’ tab, then ‘fundamental concepts’, a window will open where you can launch the PDFs.  Additionally, they can be found by searching in the program folder.

Unfortunately, one aggravating feature of the program is that it expires instead of checking for updates.  However, it’s ease of use and functionality make returning to the program’s homepage worth the time.  With such a great program for free, I’m amazed it’s not more popular.

Go to the program’s site

Want to discuss this program in the Hebrew discussion forum?

Biblical Hebrew: A Student Grammar free PDF

Biblical Hebrew: A Student Grammar by John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt is a 244 page grammar  available in it’s draft form as free PDF at

It’s scholarly and approachable, and even though it’s unfinished form it’s fairly comprehensive.  If you’re interested in breaking into more Latin based and advanced English grammar terms I highly recommend this text. This text is great if you’d like to become more familiar with concepts and terminology like a-class,i-class,  u-class, Quiescent, jussive etc.  He uses many English terms but also uses more traditional terms like Dagesh Qal, Dagesh Chazaq etc.  If a section on “Predicative and Substantival Participles” (pg. 74) sounds like something you’d enjoy reading over a large cup of cafe au lait and possibly some aspirin, this is the book for you.  Also, concepts from Linguistics are brought in, such as grammatical words vs. lexical words, CV (consonant/vowel) patterns, something that I always enjoy.  However, he supplies adequate explanations so having a background in Linguistics isn’t a prerequisite.   It still surprises me how gently this grammar introduces, explains, and uses new terminology and grammar.  Best of all it’s free.

If you’re interested in learning more about the authors and would like to see more of their work, which is too exhaustive to list,  you can visit their pages at:



YU Torah – Shiurim on Hebrew

YU Torah is a fantastic resource that hosts thousands of mp3s.  I’ve searched the site using different keywords to find all the shiurim that relate to Hebrew, languages, and grammar.

Insights into Tanakh through the Study of Ancient Languages & Texts Part I by Professor Hayim Tawil

Insights into Tanakh through the Study of Ancient Languages & Texts Part II by Professor Hayim Tawil

Insights into Tanakh through the Study of Ancient Languages & Texts Part III by Professor Hayim Tawil

Covenant Terminologies in Biblical Israel & Ancient Mesopotamia by Professor Hayim Tawil

Hebrew & Akkadian Lexicography by Professor Hayim Tawil

West Semitic Langauges Professor Hayim Tawil

Proper Pronunciation: Ashkenazic Sephardic Litvish Galitzianer by  Rabbi Michael Taubes (check out the accompanying PDF source sheet)

Pronouncing the Hebrew Language by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz

Customs: Prayer – Pronunciation by Rabbi Aharon Kahn

Youtube Channel for Learning Hebrew Conversation

I found this YouTube channel randomly from a list of Hebrew learning links.  I believe that video can be a very powerful medium for teaching language because time spent watching video seems to fly by much faster versus traditional study.  This isn’t a review of the website, it’s a resource article for the affiliated youtube channel.  I went to the site and it seems the author has a number of videos up but they’re behind a payment wall.  However, there are 15 free video on the channel  The videos are produced by an Israeli so they’re beneficial for fine-tuning your accent during regular conversation.  The videos have accompanying English translations and transliterations, they don’t have Hebrew writing.  This isn’t a review; it’s just making people aware of this resource.

Top 500 Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Words Free PDF

For people interested in targeted vocabulary  lists there isn’t so much available for Hebrew.   The following is by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Kreuzer professor of Old Testament and Biblical Archeology at Protestant University Wuppertal-Bethel  and Bergische Universität.  This PDF has been produced by a credible person and has been around for a long time, but I’m not sure how he did his analysis for the most common words.  The layout is simple and straightforward.  A big plus is that all the Hebrew words have nekudot.  He also gives the romanized spelling albeit through a semi-confusing academic system with superscript letters and diacritics.  Unfortunately, the parts of speech aren’t listed.  He also has a German language version you can find on his website here.  Note, these are copy-written by the author.

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