Yeah. My Hebrew Sucks.

I have a confession to make. I am a member of something both so common that there are whole Israeli towns devoted to it and yet so embarrassing, every time I find myself exposed as such in public, I blush.

What is this onerous malady I bear? Only that I am yet another grand example of the very thing we were told to avoid at all costs: I am one of those Americans, living in Israel.

My official Aliyah took place over 2 years ago (Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem, Mamish Gevalt, Psssshhh) and I still struggle my way through a menu “English please!” (באנגלית בבקשה!) and somehow I still mess up asking the simple, albeit effective: ”Is it possible to speak in English” to my bank tellers, phone plan reps, and doctor’s receptionists.

Those of you who are similarly situated may not admit it to yourselves, but you could have this disorder too. Symptoms can be glimpsed when in conversation with the rare Israeli who finds patience enough to speak with you (Miracles in the Holy Land! Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem, Mamish Gevalt, Psssshhh). They just repeated their last sentence at the behest of your blank face. You precede to pause, for what seems like enough time for Israel to go from rat infested swamp land to cat infested cornucopia. Watch out! These pauses can induce said Israeli to revert into English (that could be the Queen’s compared to your own sapling of a second language) and after that its not long before you are more interested in making a friend than testing their patience with “holechet, no halachiti. No hechlatiti. Oh forget it hows the chummus?”

I am in effect a Hebrican: I want to be a player in Israeli society (and Lord knows I enjoy doing the accent) but I’m stuck in English. I also hold all of the most common reasons: “Hey, I went to Ulpan, but…”: All of my friends are Anglo! I work with Anglos! I learn with Anglos! My community in Jerusalem is Anglo! My Shul is full of Anglos! And everyone in Israel speaks Anglo!**

Luckily, Jewlicious has taken pity on me and suggested I try a new Hebrew learning program called Bereshit from learnhebrewtoday.com. (Bereshit translates to “In the beginning” so I know I have the support of Froylein Maria…and God). The online program produces a bi-weekly newspaper (they can snail mail it to you too!) on Israel’s current events in simple dimple Hebrew so that Hebricans like myself might actually read about Israeli affairs while lessening the language gap. So here it goes, Bereshit, I’m hereby placing my Aliyah success into your hands…J/K! About 5 Nefesh B Nefesh officials almost emergency interventioned me). In posts to follow I hope to share my triumphs and tribulations with the Holy Tongue.



**for those of you who don’t know what an “Anglo” is, as I didn’t before it became a part of my Hebrican vocab, I provide it’s dictionary.com definition for your convenience: “an English-speaking person in a place where English is not the language of the majority.” And yes, I live in Nachlaot. How did you guess??


  1. Lori

    1/31/2011 at 5:03 pm

  2. matthew

    1/31/2011 at 5:52 pm

  3. Menachem Lipkin

    2/1/2011 at 5:48 am

  4. froylein

    2/1/2011 at 12:25 pm

  5. Abu Zib

    2/1/2011 at 10:01 pm

  6. Michael

    2/2/2011 at 2:43 am

  7. Beri

    2/2/2011 at 3:01 am

  8. Yehudit Menucha

    2/2/2011 at 3:19 am

  9. A Weil

    2/2/2011 at 12:06 pm

  10. David

    2/3/2011 at 11:04 am

  11. Pingback: Yeah. My Hebrew Sucks. | alanceleb

  12. Mark

    9/18/2011 at 12:37 pm

  13. George

    11/3/2011 at 8:10 am

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