10 Things You may want to know about Hanukkah.


  1. hanukahclip10Hanukkah; Chanukah; Hannukah etc. חֲנוּכָּה, comes from the Hebrew word: חָנַךְ – which means: dedicate, from the sense: formally open or unveil (a building or memorial). The Maccabees cleanse the Temple after it was defiled by the Assyrian Greeks and on the 25th of the month of Kislev, כ”ה בְּכִּסְלֵו they formally opened (unveiled) the temple בֵּית הַמִּקְדָשׁ – beit ha-meek-dash.
  2. Maccabee – The nickname that was given to Judah, the high priest Mattathias first son.Maccabee comes from the word: מַקֶבֶת – ma-ke-vet that means a hammer. Describing the strength and power of Yehuda who was the leader of the Jewish Army.
  3. The war that was waged against the oppressive Greek rulership started on 167B.C. The Maccabees fought for religious freedom.
  4. It was an untrained and unequipped Jewish army of about 12,000 against at least 40,000 trained and a well-equipped Assyrian-Greek army.
  5. After three years of wars that mainly took place in the mountains, the Maccabees army won, took over Jerusalem and cleanse the temple.
  6. Hanukkah’s gelt: Judah the Maccabee minted gold coins to commemorate the victory over Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple and gave the coins as a gift to the residents of Jerusalem. Hence, the custom to give Hanukkah gelt (money in German/Yiddish) mainly to the young generation.
  7. It took twenty-five years of wars for the Greek to finally sign a peace agreement with the last surviving son of the high priest Mattathias (מַתִּתְיָהוּ הַכֹּהֵן), Simeon, and to return the sovereignty of the region to the Jews.
  8. We eat food cooked in oil. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N’er Tamid, נֵר תָּמִיד which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished. Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days. We eat Jelly doughnuts סופְגָנִיוֹת (suf-ga-nee-yot); latkes (Yiddish: potato pancakes) לְבִיבוֹת – l’vee-vot etc.
  9. 8 Days of Hanukkah. We celebrate Hanukkah eight days because of the miracle of the jug of oil. See #8.
  10. We play the dreidel – spinner (in Yiddish –  סְבִיבוֹן  (s’vee-von). A small four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side (נ,ג ה פ – N,G,H,P) a great miracle happened HERE. The letters on the dreidel anywhere but in Isreal has these four letters: נ.ג.ה.ש – N.G.H.SH – a great miracle happened THERE.  It is a game the Hebrews played when pretending they were playing while they studied Torah (an activity that was forbidden at that time by the Assyrian-Greeks who wanted all the Jews to give up Judaism and convert to their beliefs. Anyone disobeying the decree executed.

Chag Sameach; Khag Sameakh; Happy Holiday.

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It Just Sounds Better

shfr-seriesWhen I first came to live in the USA, good American friends would correct my grammar. One time when I said: “I read that book”. My friend told me that it was more correct to say: “I have read that book”. “But why?” I asked. “Both are in the past, why do I have to say: I have read? How come you guys have so many ways to say the Past Tense when Hebrew has only one way?” After some hesitation she said: “It just sounds better.”

“But how would I (an Israeli) know that it sounds better? I was not born here, haven’t heard English 18 hours per day for the past 30 years. How would I know if it SOUNDS better or not?” Needless to say that I was very frustrated. Does this sound familiar to you? You, who are learning a foreign language?  Well, after a long time of groping in the dark I picked and OLD English grammar book (The OLD books are the best). Sat down and studied it. I was so thrilled to find the reasons behind the “It sounds good” explanation. Anyone telling you,”this is how you say it” without the grammar explanations, please don’t buy it. There IS a grammar explanation to almost anything. All you have to do is to find the correct books that don’t just teach you to repeat phrases like a robot but tell you the reasons behind it so that you would then be able to think WITH it and APPLY it every time.

If you never liked grammar at school, unfortunately as a student of a foreign language you will have to revisit it. Learn the Parts of Speech in your OWN language first and then you’ll find that you are having a much easier time in learning a foreign language.

Since I’m very familiar with the barriers that a student of a foreign language has to face I ensured that all my books (except for the Primer) have a fantastic glossary with grammar terms that are defined and explained simply and clearly.

Wishing you easy learning.

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I Have Snot?

thHave you ever heard someone saying: I have snot? For sure not in the USA nor in England or any other English-speaking countries, as it is quite vulgar. Instead, you would hear something like: “I have a runny nose.” or: “My nose is running.”

Hahaha, again, this is not a sentence you would want to translate word for word to Hebrew. Do not say: הָאָף שֶׁלִי רָץ, as by that, you say that your nose is running SOMEWHERE. It is quite funny to hear it said in Hebrew. It is as if you would say: My nose is traveling somewhere.

As you can see again and again: Hebrew is a VERY literal language.

So, how do you say: “I have a runny nose” or “My nose is running” in Hebrew?

Funny enough, you WOULD say: I have snot.

נַזֶּלֶת = snot = nasal mucus

So, in Hebrew, you can either say: I have a cold:  אני מְצוּנָן or for female: אני מצוּנֶנֶת

Or you would say: I have a runny nose; My nose is running.  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת = I have snot.

It is considered children’s language to say  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת. Or when the doctor wants to know exactly what is happening with your body, you can then say,  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת.

But generally, it would be sufficient to say אני מצוּנֶנֶת to describe your physical condition.

I hope you are healthy and should not worry about how to say it in Hebrew, but just in case someone else was saying it to you… 🙂

Have a fantastic week! Shavua Neef-lah  !שָׁבוּע נִפְלָא

And to learn about other phrases, idioms, slang in English that do not translate word for word in Hebrew, I suggest you get: Hebrew, When to Say What?

Hebrew, When to Say What?

I Have a Cold!

coldOne of many phrases, idioms you do not want to translate literally from English to Hebrew is:  I HAVE A COLD.

Cold (noun) = קוֹר

I have =  ישׁ לִי = (lit. there is to me)

you do not want to say:  יִשׁ לִי קוֹר as it doesn’t mean a thing to any Hebrew speaker.

cold (adj.)  קָר; קָרָה

You do not want to say: יִשׁ לי קָר – as this too is just gibberish.

If your body temperature is COLD then you’d say:  קָר לִי = it is cold for me.

Please do not translate literally and say: אֲנִי קָר ; as that means that you are a cold PERSON; a cold fish; lacking affection or warmth of feeling; unemotional.

So, how do we say: “I have a cold”?  a common viral infection typically causing running at the nose, sneezing, a sore throat, and other similar symptoms.

אֲנִי מְצוּנָן

אֲנִי מְצוּנֶנֶת

There is another word in Hebrew that expresses: cool; chilly which is: צוֹנֵן like; chilly water – מַים צוֹנְנִים

I hope you are not מְצוּנָנִים. (suffering from a cold).

For more such unique phrases and idioms check out my book: Hebrew, When to Say What?

Hebrew, When to Say What?

Long ago; Since Long ago מִזְּמַן

%d7%9e%d7%96%d7%9e%d7%9fHere is a very useful idiom.

You WOULD need to know how to form sentences in the past tense in order to use this idiom.

There are two ways of using it.

  1.  A negative sentence
  2.  An affirmative sentence

Examples of  negative sentences: 

מִזְּמַן לֹא רָאִיתִי אוֹתָךְ – I haven’t seen you for a long time. Or: It has been a long time (long ago) since I’ve seen you.

מִזְּמַן לֹא אָכַלְתִּי פִּיצָה – I haven’t eaten pizza for a long time (long ago). Or: It has been a long time since I have eaten pizza.

Examples of affirmative sentences:

I have read this book long ago.

Or: It has been a long time ago (long ago) since I’ve read this book.

.קָרָאתִי אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה מִזְּמַן     or:      .מִזְּמַן קָרָאתִי אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה

 I have learned this word long ago ( a long time ago).

Or: It has been long ago (a long time ago) since I’ve learned this word.

.לָמַדְתִּי אֶת הַמִּילָּה הַזֹּאת מִזְּמָן    or:   .מִזְּמָן לָמַדְתִּי אֶת הַמִּילָּה הַזֹּאת

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How to Learn a New Language

Man and woman talking together. Vector illustrationOne of the most difficult areas of learning a new language is listening to someone talking the language you are learning and not understanding what he/she is saying. They may say words you already know but for some reason, you can’t recognize them. Why? Because  it sounds to you that if they are talking very fast and you do not know when one word starts and when it ends.  Does this sound familiar to you?

When you learn a new language you say the words slowly when you construct sentences. You make spaces between each word exactly as you see it written. But when people speak, they do NOT make space between each word; the words are connected and to an ear that is not used to it, it sounds like one big mumble jumble. Example: You say: Iwanttogotothemovies. You do not say: I (space) want (space) to (space) go(space)  to (space)  the (space)  movies. Did You get my point?

When we learn a new language we have to accustom our ear to the way sentences actually are said. Here is what I suggest.

  • Have a book of the language you’re studying. (it IS very important to SEE the written words)
  • Read a sentence (understanding every word in it, of course).
  • Read it again over and over until there are no spaces between the words.
  • Now say the sentence over and over without looking at the page until there are no spaces between the words.

If you have access to audios of the language you are studying:

  • Have the book of the language you’re studying.
  • Read a sentence (understanding every word in it, of course).
  • Listen to that sentence in the audio.
  • Now say it over and over until there are no spaces between the words.
  • If needed: listen to the audio again and hear how the words are pronounced. Paying attention to the accented syllables.
  • Now, say the sentence again WITH the audio until you keep up with it.

When you drill it this way you’ll hear yourself speaking like a native and then when you hear a native talk you’ll be able to understand what he/she says as your ability to spot where a word starts and where it ends increased after having followed the drill that I’m suggesting.

Have fun.

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Hebrew, When to Say What?

hwtw-coverNeither dictionaries nor Internet translators can teach you what you will find in this book as these specific entries, require thorough and yet simple explanations with examples of how and when to use them.

Hebrew, When to Say What? How to Avoid Common Mistakes was born after having received repeated questions such as: “What’s the difference between this and that? When do I say ‘this word’ and when ‘that word’? Why this word and not the other?”This book answers these questions for the beginner and intermediate level and even for the advanced Hebrew students.

The book is as unique and valuable as a book can get! It is like a mini Hebrew thesaurus. It contains gems that will get you into the mindset, culture, nuances and flavor of Modern Hebrew and it will keep you out of the most common traps.

Hebrew, When to Say What? contains over a hundred English entries that cannot be translated word for word into Hebrew; two hundred Hebrew words, expressions, phrases, slang and idioms; illustrations and exercises.

This book gives you only the common usages of each entry and not ALL of them as it is intended for the beginner/intermediate level.

I made sure I use simple and basic vocabulary and syntax to not overburden or overwhelm you with new and unnecessary materials while the purpose is to give you just those words, phrases and idioms that are unique to Hebrew and that cannot be literally translated into English. Moreover, I wanted to make this book accessible to as many levels as possible.

For your convenience and to avoid reading words that you may not know, I translated every sentence and included the Hebrew vowels – n’koo-dote (nee-kood).

The Hebrew sentences are mainly in the present tense.

The entries are in alphabetical order.

Exercises were added to certain entries that called for it.

I have no doubt that you will love this book!

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