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May 30, 2010

how do you say "stage" in Hebrew?

שלב, במה

There's the stage that people perform on, and the stage that is similar in meaning to rung, level, etc.

The stage where plays and concerts take place is a בָּמָה (bah-MAH). Likewise, a director of a show, or a film for that matter, is a בַּמַּאִי (bah-MAH-ee). The plural is בָּמוֹת (bah-MOHT).

A stage, as in "We have arrived at the final stage of the plan," is שָׁלָב (shah-LAHV). Like many nouns in many languages, this abstract idea of a chronological stage actually comes from a much more concrete word: the rung of a ladder. The plural is שְׁלָבִים (shlah-VEEM).

The sentence above, "We have arrived..." is הִגַּעְנוּ לַשָּׁלָב הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל הַתָּכְנִית (hee-GAH-noo lah-shah-LAHV hah-ah-khah-ROHN shel hah-tokh-NEET).

A level, however - as in, "Ulpan La-Inyan has five fun-filled, highly-effective levels of conversational Hebrew classes to choose from" - is רָמָה (rah-MAH), like the flagship camp of the Conservative movement. The plural is רָמוֹת (rah-MOHT).

May 29, 2010

to... "chase after" - in Hebrew


My house-mate Josh suggested this word. Josh grew up in the UK and now chases down terrorists - he's a soldier in the IDF, preparing to be a commander.

The Chapters of the Fathers (פִּרְקֵי אָבוֹת - peer-KAY ah-VOHT) lists appropriate ages for various milestones in the life of the Jewish male: 9 for education, 13 for mitzvot (hence the Bar Mitzvah), 18 for marriage (what!?)... and 20 for, well, לִרְדּוֹף (leer-DOHF). The book goes on to list other such milestones (Chapter 5, Mishnah 22).

What is that milestone for the twenty-year-old man?

The word itself - לרדוף - means to chase. Presumably, the man is spending his third decade chasing after a living. 

The word for a chase or a pursuit is מִרְדָּף (meer-DAHF).

You can learn how to use this and many other words at Ulpan La-Inyan. We've got a new six-week session starting June 6.

In the meantime, listen and repeat...

May 27, 2010

Level 1 Hebrew evening class opening up in Tel Aviv

We're opening up an evening Level 1 class (essential Hebrew conversation) at AACI Tel Aviv, starting June 6. 

That makes three classes in Tel Aviv (Levels 2 and 4 in the mornings), and five classes in Jerusalem.

At our Ulpan, you won't feel like this guy.

Have you thought about signing up? What are you waiting for?

how do you say "lazy" in Hebrew?


My bed has clothes, CDs, envelopes and all kinds of other stuff on it, and I don't feel like putting it all away so I can go to... bed.

Instead, I'm going to do what I've done more than one night over the past couple of weeks. I'm going to sleep on the sofa on my "chill" Jerusalem balcony:

That's because I'm an עַצְלָן (ahts-LAHN) - I'm lazy. If I were a woman, I'd be an עַצְלַנִית (ahts-lah-NEET). Listen and repeat.

Another reason is that the air is cool and pleasant (קָרִיר וְנָעִים - kah-REER ve-nah-EEM).

The root of the word עצלן shows up in the Bar Mitzvah dance favorite, Yo Ya: (can't see the video?)

Ulpan La-Inyan announcement

We're opening up an evening Level 1 class (essential Hebrew conversation) at AACI Tel Aviv, starting June 6. 

That makes three classes in Tel Aviv (Levels 2 and 4 in the mornings), and five classes in Jerusalem.

May 26, 2010

how do you say "challenge" in Hebrew?


This one's for Devorah N. Thanks for the request. Keep them coming, people!

A challenge in Hebrew is an אֶתְגָר (eht-GAHR). I'm not sure of the origin. It's not Biblical Hebrew - I know this because I did a search. Perhaps it's from Greek, or Ancient Persian... If anyone knows the origin, send it to us using the comment form.

There's a writer for Jerusalem Post named Etgar Lefkowitz.

So that's how to say a challenge. What about the verb and adjective?

To challenge someone is לְאַתְגֵּר מִישֶׁהו (le-aht-GEHR MEE-sheh-hoo). A challenging problem is בְּעָיָה מְאַתְגֶּרֶת (be-ah-YAH meh-aht-GEH-ret).

Hebrew used to be שָׂפָה מְאֹד מאתגרת (sah-FAH me-OHD me-aht-GEH-ret) - a very challenging language, for English speakers. Now that there's Ulpan La-Inyan, it's less challenging. 

By the way, we've got a host of courses starting on June 6 at AACI Jerusalem and Tel Aviv... So sign up.

In the meantime... Listen and repeat!

how do you say "prescription" in Hebrew?


This one's for שלום (Shalom) - thanks for the idea mate.

If you know a bit of Hebrew, you surely know the word for to write - לִכְתּוֹב (leekh-TOHV).

To jot down, however, is לִרְשׁוֹם (leer-SHOHM). For example, אֲנִי אֶרְשׁוֹם אֶת מִסְפָּר הַטֶּלֶפוֹן    שֶׁלָּך (ah-NEE ehr-SHOHM et mees-PAHR hah-TEH-leh-fohn sheh-LAKH) means, I'll jot down your phone number, when speaking to a female. The word ארשום is a proper future-tense verb.

Physicians are notorious for illegible handwriting. Maybe that's why a prescription in Hebrew is a מִרְשָׁם (meer-SHAHM) - that which is jotted down. No offense, doctors.

May 24, 2010

how do you say "barber" in Hebrew?


If you've taken Level 1 of Ulpan La-Inyan, you know the Hebrew word for book - סֵפֶר (SEH-fehr). You may also know the word for number - מִסְפָּר (mees-PAHR), though, if I'm not mistaken, that comes up in Level 2. These words carry the same root; the core concept is counting, or recounting.

The root ס.פ.ר., in Modern Hebrew, is also used to describe the act of barbering. A barber is a סַפָּר (sah-PAHR). To barber is לְסַפֵּר (le-sah-PEHR). A barber's salon is a מַסְפֵּרָה (mahs-PEH-rah).

Check out the video below - listen and repeat. (click if you can't see the video)

May 23, 2010

how do you say "unique" in Hebrew?


I've been blessed to work with great people at Ulpan La-Inyan.

Caron our instructor, one of these such people, sent me this video clip, which I invite you all the watch. If you can't see the clip, you'll need to go to the Ktzat Ivrit blog.

One of the key words in the song is יִחוּדִי (yee-khoo-DEE), which means unique. It's chosen to rhyme with the masculine form of the word Jew - יְהוּדִי.

Listen and repeat the word ייחודי as you hear it in the song. If you're starting out in Hebrew, try identifying words you know. If you've got more background, try to understand the lyrics without having to rely on the captions.


how do you say "developing" in Hebrew?


Perhaps you know the word לִפְתּוֹח (leef-TOH-ah) - to open. If you're familiar with Jewish prayer, you more than likely know the verse פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חָי רָצוֹן (poh-TEH-ah et yah-DEH-khah oo-mahs-BEE-ah le-KHOL khai rah-TSOHN) - You open your hand and satiate all those that live with favor.

The Hebrew word for develop as in, this child is developing fast, is לְהִתְפַּתֵח (le-heet-pah-TEH-ah).

However, to develop something else, it's לְפַתֵּח (le-fah-TEH-ah). For example, אֲנִי מְפַתֵּחַ קוּרְסִים בְּעִבְרִית (ah-NEE me-fah-TEH-ah KOOR-seem be-eev-REET) - I develop courses in Hebrew (language).

May 21, 2010

the Golan... Height(s) - in Hebrew


In English, we call it the Golan Heights. In Hebrew, however, it's רָמַת הַגּוֹלָן (rah-MAHT hah-goh-LAHN) - the Golan Height. Geographically, the Golan is a single plateau.

Zevitan Wadi, a really cool place

The Golan is one of Israel's most popular hiking and tourist spots, and a most important military strategic point.

Sunset, picture taken from רמת הגולן overlooking the Sea of Galilee

The word רמה also means level. For example at Ulpan La-Inyan we offer five רָמוֹת (rah-MOHT) - Levels 1-5, taking the English speaker with little-to-no background at all in Hebrew from zero to the ability to hold an intelligent conversation... in five courses of six weeks each, with classes that last about an hour a day.

How do we do this? Check us out. We've got a brand new session of our highly-acclaimed courses starting on June 6 - in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in cooperation with AACI.

May 19, 2010

to "pick someone up" (from school or something)... in Hebrew


לֶאֱסוֹף (leh-eh-SOHF) means, literally, to gather. In Hebrew, it's also to mean to pick someone up (i.e. from work, not on a date - that's לְהַתְחִיל עִם... - le-haht-HEEL eem... - to start with...).

An American mother might say I need to pick up the kids.

An Israeli mother would say אֲנִי צְרִיכָה לֶאֱסוֹף אֶת הַיְּלָדִים (ah-NEE tsree-KHAH leh-eh-SOHF et hah-yeh-lah-DEEM).

May 18, 2010

how do you say "to wear" in Hebrew?

ללבוש, לחבוש, לנעול, לגרוב, וכו

Actually, it's not so simple - Hebrew has specific verbs for wearing many different types of clothing.

The most common word is לִלְבּוֹש (leel-BOHSH). For example, אֲנִי אוֹהֵב לִלְבּוֹש חוּלְצוֹת יָפוֹת (ah-NEE oh-HEV leel-BOHSH hool-TSOHT yah-FOHT) - I like to wear nice shirts.

But there are other terms:

לַחֲבוֹש כּוֹבַע (lahkh-BOHSH KOH-va) - to wear a hat;

לִנְעוֹל נַעֲלָיִים (leen-OHL nah-ah-LAH-yeem) - to wear shoes;

לִגְרוֹב גַּרְבָּיִים (leeg-ROHV gahr-BAH-yeem) - to wear socks, etc.

I'd like to alert you all to a win-win-win situation that involves לְבִישַׁת חוּלְצוֹת (le-vee-SHAHT hool-TSOHT) - wearing shirts. It's called the NU Campaign. The idea is that people buy great-looking t-shirts, each of which displays a story connected to a particular cause. Proceeds go to help fund this cause, as well as build the private business running the campaign.

So the private company wins, the non-profit certainly wins... and the customer gets both a stylish shirt as well as the knowledge that they've helped a good cause.

Check out NU Campaign's Jewish Heart for Africa video:

May 17, 2010

saying "human being" in Hebrew

בן אדם

The full term for human being in Hebrew is בֶּן אָדָם (ben ah-DAHM) - literally, son of Adam. The term refers to males and females alike, such that you might correctly say הִיא בֶּן אָדָם טוֹב (hee ben ah-DAHM tohv) - she is a good person.

Oftentimes, בן אדם gets shortened to simply אדם. You might also say, היא אדם טוב - she is a good Adam

In English it sounds really awkward. But in Hebrew it's natural.

Important Announcement

Today is the final day to register at regular price for this upcoming session (June 6 - July 15) of Ulpan La-Inyan classes. Courses will be taking place at AACI in both Jerusalem (Levels 1-5) and Tel Aviv (Levels 2 and 4).

So if you're planning to register, now's the time!

Also, happy birthday to my brother, Danny!

May 16, 2010

"entertainment" in Hebrew


Though Israel is now my home, I'm proud of my roots in LA, the entertainment capital of the world.

How do you say entertainment in Hebrew? בִּדּוּר (bee-DOOR).

The word is the noun form of the verb לְבַדֵּר (le-vah-DEHR), which means, to entertain.

Here's a video that is מְבַדֵּר (me-vah-DEHR - entertaining) for all ages (especially really young ones). Brings back memories for me... I dedicate it to my brother Danny.

May 14, 2010

Hebrew for wisdom


This one's to my friend Mark Whelan from... England, LA, Germany, etc. Thanks for the request (the rest of you can request words as well!)

הוּא אִישׁ חָכָם (hoo eesh hah-KHAHM) means he is a wise man. It's used also to mean he is a smart man. So, for instance, if a man were to take a class with Ulpan La-Inyan, he'd be considered איש חכם.

But to mean he is intelligent, it's more common to say הוּא אִינְטֶלִגֶנְטִי (hoo een-TEH-lee-GHEN-tee).

This guy looks pretty smart.

Or to mean she's an educated woman, you'd say הִיא אִשָּׁה מַשְׂכִּילָה (hee ee-SHAH mahs-kee-LAH).

Anyway, the word for
wisdom itself is חָכְמָה (hohkh-MAH). Note that it's not hahkh-MAH, but hohkh-MAH.

שבת שלום (Shabbat Shalom) to all.

Listen and repeat.

May 12, 2010

the C word (commitment) - in Hebrew:

מחויבות, התחייבות

So there's Commitment with an upper-case C, and commitment with a lower-case c.

The upper-case one (i.e. the one men are accused of not being prepared to make) is מְחֻיָּבוּת (me-khoo-yah-VOOT). For example, יֵשׁ לִי מחויבות כְּלַפֵּי בֵּיתַ"ר יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (yesh lee me-khoo-yah-VOOT klah-PAY bay-TAHR yeh-roo-shah-LAH-yeem) - I have a commitment to(wards) Beitar Jerusalem. (I don't really have such a commitment, barring my affinity to my place of residence - this is just an example)

The lower-case one, commitment as in "I have other commitments today", is הִתְחַיְּבוּת (heet-khah-yeh-voot). For example, I may decline a dinner offer on the basis of התחייבויוֹת קוֹדְמוֹת (heet-khah-yeh-voo-YOHT kohd-MOHT). - prior commitments - such as teaching my Level 5 Ulpan La-Inyan class.

the sun also (?) over Jerusalem:


When I was fourteen, I spent the school year with my family in Raanana, Israel. On יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן (yohm hah-zee-kah-ROHN - Memorial Day), I was hooked on the country.

A few weeks later, on יוֹם יְרוּשָׁלַים (yohm yeh-roo-shah-LAH-yeem -
Jerusalem Day), I traveled with my youth movement to Jerusalem, where, at one in the morning, we started marching with thousands of others from the Merkaz Harav yeshiva to the Old City.

We sat around enjoying the crisp air as well as each others' company, and waited for the sunrise - הַזְּרִיחָה (hah-zree-KHAH).

יום ירושלים at sunrise last year - not nearly as many people as I recall from 1994.

That's more like it.
The word זריחה comes from the root ז.ר.ח (z.r.h.), which refers specifically to the rising of the sun. One of Hebrew's words for east is מִזְרַח (meez-RAKH) - since the east is where the sun rises.

A similar story with מַעֲרָב (mah-ah-RAHV) - west. It's where the sun sets and creates evening - עֶרֶב (EH-rehv).

Happy יום ירושלים!

May 11, 2010

How do you say... Jerusalem?


The letter J makes the j sound in English. But in most other languages using the Latin alphabet, J makes the y sound.

That's how יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (ye-roo-shah-LAH-yeem) became Jerusalem.

So what does ירושלים actually mean? Well, the most likely explanation (according to Wikipedia) is that the name combines two Semitic roots: י.ר.ה (y.r.h.), meaning instruction and ש.ל.מ (sh.l.m.), meaning completeness. The ש.ל.מ root also carries the connotation of peace.

Therefore, ירושלים is the place of instruction (as in "From Zion comes forth Torah/ instruction") as well as peace, or completeness. To my mind and heart this description couldn't be more accurate: Jerusalem, in its potential (not in actuality... yet), is the world capital of morality, goodness... and peace of mind. Also, Ulpan La-Inyan is headquartered in ירושלים - what could be better?

I've posted two videos (can't see them?). The first I found when searching for Naomi Shemer's  ירושלים שֶׁל זָהָב (ye-roo-shah-LAH-yeem shel zah-HAHV) - Jerusalem of Gold. It touched me deeply - somehow the Holocaust led to the present day, where Jerusalem is finally in the hands of the one and only people in the world that has yearned for her alone.

The second video (more of an audio piece) plays Idan Raichel's arrangement of "Blessings for a New Year," capturing the excitement of the Beta Israel's (Ethiopian Jewry) arrival in Israel. 

Why do I post this second video today? Because יום ירושלים (yohm) - Jerusalem Day - is also designated as the memorial day for those Beta Israel who perished on the weeks' long trek-by-foot through the forests, plains and deserts of Ethiopia and the Sudan... on their way to the land that they dreamed about for millenia, ኢየሩሳሌም (Jerusalem).

May 10, 2010

what would you call a "nice person" in Hebrew? this may come as a surprise.


A conventional way of saying "she's a nice person" is הִיא אָדָם נֶחְמָד (hee ah-DAHM nekh-MAHD). Note that אדם is used to mean person and stays masculine even though we're talking about a woman.

Another way of saying it that taps into the person's nature more deeply, is היא אדם סִמְפָּתִי (hee ah-DAHM seem-PAH-tee). Literally, this translates as she is a sympathetic person. If you've studied literature, you may be familiar with sympathetic characters - those characters with whom the reader identifies with, feels warm and fuzzy about...

Interestingly enough, that's exactly what Ulpan La-Inyan does with the Hebrew language - our students feel warm and fuzzy inside when they study with us.

May 9, 2010

value in Hebrew -


The Hebrew word for value, as in "Ulpan La-Inyan courses are an excellent value", is עֶרֶך (EH-rekh). 

To express that you respect a person - that you evaluate this person positively - you'd use the word לְהַעֲרִיך (le-hah-ah-REEKH). For example, you might say מְנַחֵם בֶּגִין הָיָה קָל לְהַעֲרִיך (meh-NAH-khem BEH-gheen hah-yah kahl le-hah-ah-REEKH) - Menachem Begin was easy to respect.

Don't confuse להעריך with להאריך (with an alef), which means to lengthen.

Listen and repeat...

May 7, 2010

lending a helping hand - in Hebrew:


Perhaps you've called up one of Israel's phone companies seeking technical support. The phrase in Hebrew for this is תְּמִיכָה טֶכְנִית (te-mee-KHAH TEKH-neet).

You can also support a friend - לִתְמוֹךְ בְּחָבֵר (leet-MOKH be-khah-VEHR) - or an organization - לִתְמוֹךְ בְּאִרְגּוּן (leet-MOKH be-eer-GOON).

Why this word now? 

Because this week's Torah portion is all about people supporting one another in difficult times. This is the essence of of the Jewish people living in their promised land - we are here to stand up straight... and help our friends (i.e. the whole Jewish people) up when they need it.

May 5, 2010

how do you "business card" in Hebrew?

כרטיס ביקור

Today at AACI, the executive director's teenage son (who may be one of the counselors on our summer program for preteen new immigrants) handed me the most innovative business card I've seen in a while, perhaps ever:

I scribbled over the phone number so that he doesn't get swamped.
The Hebrew term for business card is כַּרְטִיס בִּקּוּר (kahr-TEES bee-KOOR). It means, literally, card of visit (like the French carte de visite).

The plural is כַּרְטִיסֵי ביקור (kahr-tee-SAY bee-KOOR) - cards of visit.

May 4, 2010

to nurture... in Hebrew:


This is a nice word.

Suppose you've got a garden full of greens and flowers. To really appreciate the garden (גִּנָּה - ghee-NAH) means to nurture it - לְטַפֵּחַ אֶת הַגינה (le-tah-PEH-akh et hah-ghee-NAH).

Likewise, you might wish to nurture a boy - לטפח יֶלֶד (le-tah-PEH-akh YEH-led) - or a girl לטפח יָלְדָה (le-tah-PEH-akh yahl-DAH).

my brother Danny מְטַפֵּח his child,
newborn Adina Rose

exhausted - in Hebrew:

מותש, מותשת

Perhaps you know the Hebrew word for tired - עָיֵּף, עָיֵּפָה (ah-YEHF - masculine; ah-yeh-FAH - feminine). It's a word we teach in Level 2 of Ulpan La-Inyan.

Here's how a man would say, I'm exhausted: אֲנִי מוּתָש (ah-NEE moo-TAHSH).

Here's how a woman who say it: אֲנִי מוּתֶשֶׁת (ah-NEE moo-TEH-shet).

Ask your friendly Israeli neighbor to pronounce the words for you - I'm too tired :)

May 2, 2010

how do you say "I'm supposed to be in bed" in Hebrew?

אמוּר ל...

If you wish to express in Hebrew "I am supposed to be... [blank]", you'd use the phrase אָמוּר ל (ah-MOOR le...), or  אָמוּרָה ל (ah-moo-RAH le...), if you're a female. It means, literally, I am said to...

For example, right now I might say אֲנִי אָמוּר לִהְיוֹת בַּמִּטָּה (ah-NEE ah-MOOR lee-hyoht bah-mee-TAH) - I am supposed to be in bed.

Another possibility is אֲנִי צָרִיךְ/צְרִיכָה ל (ah-NEE tsah-REEKH/tsree-KHAH le...) - I need to be...

For example, אֲנִי צָרִיךְ לְדַבֵּר עִם אָדָם בַּבּוֹקֵר (ah-NEE tsah-REEKH le-dah-BEHR eem AH-dahm bah-BOH-kehr) - I need to speak with Adam (of RustyMike Radio) in the morning, so I can do the Hebrew Word of the Day radio-style.

This installment of קצת עברית - Ktzat Ivrit - is the response to a request made by Dan the Man of Tel Aviv.

If you would like to see a particular word or phrase featured, hit the comments section below.

May 1, 2010

bonfires - in Yiddish and Hebrew:

קומזיץ, מדורה

A common word used in Israel for bonfires is קוּמְזִיץ (KOOM-zeets). This word comes from Yiddish and means, literally, come, sit (say the word out loud and right away you'll notice the Germanic similarity in the sounds).

To an Israeli, the word קומזיץ brings to mind the bonfire and all that is associated with it: guitars, bongos and friends.

The more proper Hebrew word for the bonfire itself is מְדוּרָה (meh-doo-RAH).

Why do I write about מדורות and קומזיצים tonight? Well, it's Lag BaOmer (ל"ג בעומר), Israel's national holiday for bonfires (dating back close to 2000 years ago).

To find out more about Lag BaOmer and its associations, I refer you to the blog of my student, colleague and friend, Ruti Mizrachi.

In the meantime... listen and repeat!