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"MAY THE LORD GIVE STRENGTH TO HIS PEOPLE

MAY THE LORD BLESS HIS PEOPLE WITH SHALOM!"
PSALM 29:11
 

Gila's Tips for Tours

Hebrew for Pilgrims: 10 Handy Phrases

Here are some handy Hebrew phrases which will help you connect with people you’ll be meeting:
1.  Shalom       

Shalom is probably the most well-known word in Hebrew. It means hello, good-bye and peace.   If you don’t know whether you are coming or going, shalom (once) is hello and shalom, shalom is goodbye.  In the Hebrew Bible, shalom is used more than 217 times, mostly meaning peace.  Shalom Aleichem means peace be with you!
2.  Ma Shalom-cha
    H
ow are you?

If you’d like to ask someone how s/he is, you literally ask, “How is your peace.”  Say Ma Shalom-cha? (that’s a guttural h, not ch as in church) to a male and Ma Shalom-aych? (also guttural) to a female.  Every noun in Hebrew is either masculine or feminine.  Radio, for example, is masculine and television is feminine.  Go figure!

A good way to reply to this greeting is, "Baruch HaShem" which means Praise be the Name (of the Almighty).  All Orthodox Jewish people use this expression.  Sometimes even in every third sentence!

3.  Boker Tov
   
Good Morning

Boker tov means good morning.  Boker rhymes (almost) with poker and tov rhymes with stove.  I always tell my groups that if you can’t remember boker tov, just sort of mumble broken toe and they’ll probably guess what you’re trying to say.  Or, on the other hand, they might send you to the infirmary!  “Boker tov” is also a breakfast cereal – the Israeli version of Cheerios.  Erev tov means good evening.
4.  Bi-va-ka-shah / Toe-dah
   
Please / Thank you

Mind your manners:  Please is Bi-va-ka-shah.  It also means you’re welcome. Toe-dah means thank you. Toe-dah Rabah means thank you very much.  No thank you is, Lo, Toe-dah.  B'Toe-dah means with thanksgiving.
5.  Kamah zeh oleh?
   
How much does it cost?

Kamah zeh oleh is “how much does it cost?”  It’s always handy to know how to say in response, “that’s too much.”  Zeh yo-tear Me Die.  Don’t forget to stick on, Lo, Toe-dah.  Then the real bargaining starts!

6.  Mazal Tov!
   
Congratulations!

Mazal tov means congratulations.  It works for all occasions.  It’s most handy to know when you encounter a bride and groom on their pre-wedding photo shoot.  It could be at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in old Jaffa near the home of Simon the Tanner, or at the picturesque ruins of Caesarea, where Cornelius the Centurion was stationed.

At the wedding ceremony itself, right after the groom smashes the glass (in memory of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem), the guests shout out mazal tov. That’s why when a waiter drops a glass in a restaurant or dining room, Jewish guests automatically respond with “mazal tov.”

7.  Shalom Chaverim!
   
Good-bye my friends

Shalom Haverim

Chaver means friend and Chaverim means friends. Shalom Chaverim is a popular and easy-to-learn Hebrew song.

Buy The Bible for Revival music CD and learn to sing Shalom Chaverim.

From the Bible for Revival CD of Israeli folk music

Shalom Chaver was a popular bumper sticker after US President Bill Clinton eulogized assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Shalom Haver bumper sticker

8.  Ay-foe
   
Where is...?

Ay-foe (rhymes with play-dough) means where is/are.  Looking for the restrooms?  Ay-foe Ha-she-rue-team.  You could also look for a sign saying W.C. which stands for water closet.  Sometimes you’ll see signs saying OO.  This is a remnant of the British colonial period.  OO stands for Officers Only.

Where’s the bus is Ay-foe Ha Aw-toe-boose (The last syllable rhymes with goose.)
9.  Eh-chodd - Shneye-yeam
   
One -- Two

Eh-chodd: one   Shneye – yeam: two   Sha-losh: three   Arba: four  Chamaysh:  five

Instead of saying one-two-three-go, we say in Hebrew, shalosh-arBA!!

Oops!  There's a mistake here -- I used masculine, but I should have used feminine!  Hebrew numbers take the feminine gender.  If you want to speak correctly, then you should say Eh-chott - Sh-tie-yim!

10.  HaShana Ha Baa Bi Yerushalayim
      Next Year in Jerusalem!

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Colorful Colloquialisms and Slang

Sabbaba is local Jerusalem slang which means cool or groovy.  (High five!)

Achla is awesome like in "that was an achla performance."

Belagan is a big mess.  That's the normal situation here!

Yalla means "Let's go".  But be careful whom you say this to, for it's what you say to a donkey when you slap it.  (Meaning only use this with a peer!)

Kadahat means malaria and today an older person will still use it as slang for something you sweat over

Sof HaDerech is literally "end of the road", but it means outtasight, terrific.

Choleh Cholera literally translates sick with cholera, actually means you are out of your mind.

Kukureeku means cock-a-doodle-doo.  Apparently roosters crow differently in the holy land!
 

Copyright 2006, 2015 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

 

Coming to Jerusalem in 2017?  Would you like to find the venues where you can quietly be transported back in your imagination to the time of Jesus?  To David?  To Abraham?  Would you like to ride the local buses and try out your newly learned Hebrew phrases?  Are you eager to eat hummus, kubbeh or Esau's lentil soup elbow-to-elbow with the locals?

Make every minute matter while you "Explore Jerusalem's Soul" with Gila's unorthodox guide.  The up-to-date PDF (Adobe Acrobat) 46-page guide gives you the Top Ten places to meditate on the Bible, the Top Ten lesser-known churches worth visiting, the Top Ten most rewarding roof-top views and the Top Ten places for Middle Eastern soul food.  More...

Hebrew signs:
 
Jaffa Gate street sign crafted by Armenians

Via Dolorosa or Stations of the Cross

     
How Kids Lived in Bible Days:  a book for kids and about kids -- ideal gift for kids and grandkids age 5 upwards!
 
How Kids Lived in Bible Days

Stories for and about kids:

  • Abraham and the Idols

  • Zira's first day at School

  • Be a Myrtle, not a Thorn!

  • David's Wild Ride

  • Abigail Finds a Spring

  • The Lost and Found Doll

  • Joshua's Journey to Jerusalem

  • The Lame Boy and the King

  • Lucky Lucian

Have fun reading to your kids or grandkids!

 
Richly illustrated with eye-catching drawings and archeological finds, How Kids Lived in Bible Days by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh gives a view of the biblical world through children's eyes.  This 144-page book includes lots of puzzles, projects, mazes and riddles to keep the kids motivated and eager to learn more about the Holy Land.  A "must-have" for every family of faith.


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin