Biblical Hebrew 101

Hosted by Or Shalom in Vancouver: Join Arabic-Hebrew translator and seasoned Biblical Hebrew expert Rahel Halabe in a rigorous beginners study of the language as it is found in the Tanakh. Using her Biblical Hebrew the Practical Way method and materials, all you’ll need to bring to the table is the ability to comfortably read Hebrew with vowels—no requirement to understand what you’re reading! By the end of this course, you’ll be ale to apply what you’ve learned to Jewish prayer at and outside of shul, become more familiar with the vocabulary of Torah, and have an opportunity to continue learning with Rahel as you master the sacred language of the Jewish people.

Important notes:

Biblical Hebrew 101 with Rahel Halabe requires up to 3 hours of homework between sessions.

These 10 sessions are just the beginning – so you can keep the learning going over several seasons! First class: Sunday 20 February 2:00 – 4:00 PM

If you are unsure of whether your Hebrew level is appropriate for this course, please contact Rahel at Rahel also offers a free review, if you’d like a quick refresher before the course begins:

Required materials:

You will need to purchase the Hebrew The Practical Way set in order to participate in this class. First-time buyers will enjoy a 25% discount from Magnes Press. This publisher is located in Jerusalem, so delivery is not instantaneous. While you await your printed copies, Rahel will provide PDFs to the class.

If you own an iPad, you have the option to buy the electronic version. This version is not user-friendly on laptops or iPhones.

You’ll also need the following reference book. Check used book shops, conventional bookstores, and to procure your copy.

  • A Concise Hebrew And Aramaic Lexicon Of The Old Testament: Holladay, William L.: 9780802834133

Summary of event details

Hug Ivrit Resumes

Ḥug Ivrit resumes Wednesday, January 26, at 7:00 PM, via Zoom.

Relaxed, high-intermediate Hebrew. Focused on conversation, vocabulary and grammar related to the teacher-selected weekly text. 

If you’ve not participated in this Circle yet, please write to Dahlia: Past participants will receive a Zoom link from Dahlia.

Summary of event details

Modern Hebrew begins October 15

Hebrew letter collage colorful CROPPEDBeginning October 15 at 6:30 pm at 1461 Blanshard Street — Instructor Betsi Boeno covers written and spoken modern Hebrew with an emphasis on basic Hebrew conversation skills. Betsi is fluent in modern Hebrew and experienced in teaching Hebrew to newcomers in Israel. Fall session: Oct. 15 to Dec. 17 (10 sessions) Fee: $120 members/$180 non-members. Please pre-register through the synagogue office at 250-382-0615.

Sketches of Israel and the Middle East: Arabic Hebrew

How Modern Israelis Really Speak

Sunday, February 19, 2017  2:30 pm (revised date)


Join us on Sunday, February 19, 2017  2:30 pm, at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, for the second talk in our series Sketches of Israel and the Middle East, when Jonathan Orr-Stav addresses the topic Arabic Hebrew: An Introduction to How Modern Israelis Really Speak

(A poll is available for those wishing to register interest in attending at another date)

Modern Hebrew bears a resemblance to biblical Hebrew similar to that of modern English to Shakespeare. Today’s Israelis can read and understand most or all of biblical Hebrew (depending on the text) but modern Hebrew has added extra “storeys”: some are imports from European languages (such as informatziah, qonteqst, alternativah) and form part of official, written Hebrew, but others, from the local Arabic, are informal. This “Arabic-Hebrew” has become such an integral part of everyday speech that most Israelis are unaware that many words they commonly use are Arabic. Anyone seeking to gain a true knowledge of modern spoken Hebrew, or to understand Israelis when they’re speaking, must acquaint themselves with this side of Hebrew that does not appear in any siddur or even in Hebrew language textbooks. 

In this talk Jonathan will review the most important Arabic Hebrew terms, their meanings, origins, and uses in everyday language.
Jonathan Orr-Stav (Ure Stoppi) is an expatriate Israeli and third-generation Hebrew translator and editor. His book on a radical new method for learning to read and write in Hebrew, Aleph Through the Looking Glass, is recommended reading in academic Hebrew courses in North America. Since 2002, he has lived with his family in Victoria. His hobbies are Indonesian food, Ancient Hittite grammar, and kayaking (but not necessarily at the same time).
Email Heshi at if you have any questions.  Entry is by donation; light refreshments will be served. 
The Simcha Gift Shop will be open at 2:00 pm and after the talk.

Note: To avoid disturbances to the Fiddler on the Roof rehearsals taking place in the annexe that same afternoon, please access via the Sanctuary entrance, not that of the annex.

Preregistration open for Modern Hebrew Classes


Modern Hebrew Classes with Betsi
Boeno will be taught at two learner levels. The classes will focus on talking,
writing and reading Hebrew.

  • Hebrew 1 (Beginners’ Classes)
    will start on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:00 pm and will continue on Mondays at 2pm after that. 
  • Hebrew 2 (Intermediate Classes)
    will start on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 7:00 pm. “Second class will be on Thursday,
    Nov. 3, 7:00 pm
    and continue at that time on Mondays from Nov. 7th onwards.

Both courses are 10 weeks long, and they each cost $120 for members, $180 for
non-members, plus $45 for the textbook (the same textbook is used in both courses.)

Please pre-register for either course before the start date by
completing the appropriate form: 

Payment can be made by cheque
payable to Congregation Emanu-El or by credit card. Please do not send credit
card information by email or fax.

Adult Ed: Hebrew Courses beginning in April

Hebrew Course

  • Wednesday,
    April 20 at 7:00 pm
  • Instructor:
    Betsy Boeno.
  • Cost for 10
    sessions: Members: $120; Non-members: $180
  • Textbook:  $45 (additional)

Intermediate Hebrew Course
(Hebrew 2)

  • Monday, April 25 at 7:00 pm
  • Instructor:
    Betsy Boeno
  • Cost for 10
    sessions: members: $120; for non-members: $180
  • Text book: $45

 Note: The same textbook is used for Hebrew 1 and

pre-register for these courses online and contact Zelda in the office at
250-382-0615 to pay by credit card or cheque.

For further
information about these courses, please email Betsy.

Ḥug Ivrit reconvenes, April 5

Ḥug Ivrit (Hebrew Circle) will reconvene on Tuesday, April 5 at 6:30–8:30 pm.

From April 13 onwards, meetings will move to Wednesday evenings at the same times.

If your Hebrew is well beyond the beginner level, but you require more practice speaking to improve your listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills—Ḥug Ivrit may be for you.

We meet with native speaker Dahlia Beck at her home and, under her careful guidance, immerse ourselves in Hebrew conversation and culture. If you are new to this group, please email Dahlia. Participation: by donation.