The Big Felafel

Learn Hebrew with jokes

If you’re working on your Hebrew and need a break from Sha’ar Lematchil, the easy Hebrew newspaper, you can check out Jacob Richman’s Hebrew Jokes site. Most of the jokes are pretty corny, but there are a few surprising ones, like the joke above.


What do air conditioning and computers have in common?

They both work slower when you open windows or Windows (depending on how much Microsoft-related issues you’ve been having lately)


Kitzur: Find definitions for Hebrew abbreviations and acronyms

My friend Keren let me in on a secret Hebrew weapon called Kitzur, which gives you the definition for thousands of Hebrew acronyms and abbreviations. I immediately went to the slang section and was amused by all the ridiculous abbreviations like “Gvinatz” for Gvinah Tzehubah (the ambiguous but ever popular Yellow Cheese). Um. Can’t remember the last time I heard someone order using either of the 2 shortened varieties. But if you try it, good luck, and let me know how it goes.


The phrases in the slang section are especially helpful in the following situations:

a. You want to pretend you are/were in the army

b. You want to be an ars (punky, annoying Israeli teenagers)

c. You are easily amused by just how many words and phrases can be shortened into ridiculous combinations that would have an Israeli get his/her whole family together to point and laugh at you if you decided to actually use some of them.


Use these phrases with caution. Some will help you fit in, but others could be disastrous for your post-Ulpan departure (but I would love to hear the outcomes). So, only start using one of the phrases once you’ve looked up the definition in English (you can use Morfix) and actually heard it used in context.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Zabaj in the listings…

P.S. For those of you still in abbreviation mode, I found a site, Abbreviation that gives definitions of English abbreviations and acronyms. (Thanks, Make Use of)

Ulpan…c’mon everybody’s doing it.

Ulpan in Israel is all the rage when you first move here. ‘Which ulpan are you at?’ is one of the first questions we ask each other so we know we’re not alone in our craving to master the Hebrew language.

My ulpan of choice was Ulpan Milah, since I moved to Israel before making Aliyah. I did Milah from Level Bet all the way through Vav, which took me less than two years, with breaks to America during the summers. The hours were really flexible, the price fair, the teachers excellent, and the 2 shekel coffee machine unbeatable.

They are located in downtown Jerusalem, and you can find more about Ulpan Milah by calling them: 02- 623-3164 or visiting their website.

When you finish the ulpan circuit, you feel more or less prepared to explore the language. It is then that you truly enter the unpredictable world of Hebrew words such as pateti for pathetic, or autenti for authentic, or siluetta for silhouette. And then you wonder, why did I need Ulpan in the first place?