Basic Hebrew Phrases Every Israeli Tourist Should Know (2022)

We explore 10 Basic Hebrew Phrases that even the complete beginner can use on their next trip to Tel Aviv.

I must confess, after living in Israel for over six years, by nobody’s standards am I fluent in Hebrew. Yes, I’ve been to the Ulpan (Hebrew Learning School) several times and I even worked in an office for three years where the staff would speak Hebrew to me pretty much 99% of the time. So it’s kind of astonishing I’m not fluent in this language.

However, while I’m certainly not an expert in the Hebrew language, I am an expert in getting by with the basic Hebrew phrases I have, as even with my limited amount of Hebrew there is rarely a situation where it’s an issue.

If you’re a tourist it’s even less of a problem; nobody in Tel Aviv will be expecting you to know Hebrew. However, they always love it when tourists make an effort to speak their language; it’s almost guaranteed to make them smile as you awkwardly mutter select words, trying to sound polite. You’re almost certainly saying it wrong, but it’s cute and it makes them more open to you.

Don’t Worry About Saying Things Wrong

I’ve had some embarrassing mispronunciation situations. In Hebrew, the word for cup is very similar to the derogatory term for female genitalia. Getting the two confused can make you look like an idiot, but it’s all part of the learning process. Humiliation is a great teacher.

Advantages of Speaking Basic Hebrew Phrases

While the general population in Tel Aviv does speak English (and often at a better level than native English speakers), having a selection of Hebrew phrases in your back pocket may be the difference between getting good service or bad service in a café; it may be the difference between getting a good deal or a bad deal in the local markets. Making an effort has got its advantages.

(Video) 100 Phrases Every Hebrew Beginner Must-Know

Basic Hebrew Phrases

To help you make the most out of your nexttrip to Tel Aviv, I’ve compiled a list of10 basic Hebrew Phrasesthat you can easily start using when you’re out and about, having fun and exploring Tel Aviv.

1. Toda / Toda Raba

Pronunciation:Toe-da / Toe-da ra-ba
Hebrew Spelling:תודה / תודה רבה
Meaning:Thanks / Thank You Very Much

The word ‘toda’ is arguably the most important word in the Hebrew language. It means “thanks” and you can add to it by saying ‘toda raba’, which means “thank you very much”. This Hebrew phrase is the simplest way for you to be polite, show gratitude, and be respectful to those serving you. It’s a short word that goes along way. Never underestimate the power of being thankful.

2. Lehitraot

Hebrew Spelling:להתראות
Meaning:Loose translation – See You Later

This is probably one of the most common phrases spoken in any language, so you’ll have many opportunities to use it and perfect its pronunciation. Every interaction you have can end in a quick and cheerful ‘lehitraot!

(Video) Most Important Phrases to Study before you travel to Israel

3. Shalom

Hebrew Spelling:שָׁלוֹם
Meaning:Loose translation – Hello; Bye. Direct translation – Peace

The word ‘shalom’ is definitely about context more than meaning, as when people use it, they rarely mean its direct translation of “peace”. It is another way of greeting someone and it can be used to say either goodbye or hello.

An extension of this term is ‘Shabbat shalom’, which is a greeting used to announce the weekend in the Hebrew calendar. Roughly translated, it means – “Have a peaceful weekend”.

4. Boker Tov

Pronunciation:book-er tuv
Hebrew Spelling:בוקר טוב
Meaning:Good Morning

This is a friendly way to start your day and like in English, with the phrase “good morning”, it is often shortened to just “morning”. The same with ‘boker tov’, which can be always be shortened to just ‘boker’.

5. Chag sameach

Pronunciation:Hag sah-MEY-akh
Hebrew Spelling:חג שמח
Meaning:Happy Holidays

It’s very likely if you’re visiting Tel Aviv, it will be in a time of national holidays, so this phrase will be relevant to you at those times. This basic Hebrew phrase replaces commonly used Hebrew terms such as ‘Shabbat shalom’, ‘lehitraot’ and even ‘boker tov’. While the phrases can be used together without any problems, people will often use ‘chag sameach’ in place of them.

‘Chag sameach’ is a seasonal greeting; use it like you would use the term “Merry Christmas”. During the festivities, we are more inclined to use a seasonal greeting over the normal terms that we usually resort to for basic interaction. Chag sameach doesn’t relate to any specific national holiday; it is more of a one-size-fits-all kind of phrase, much like in the United States where people often say “Happy Holidays” to one another.

6. Bevakasha

Hebrew Spelling:בבקשה
Meaning:Loose translation – You’re Welcome

As a tourist to Tel Aviv, you’ll usually get away with using ‘toda’ for most of your interactions, but if you want to step up your game, ‘bevakasha’ is the perfect way to do so. If someone says ‘toda’ to you, ‘bevakasha’ is the perfect response.

7. Ani mediber Englat

Pronunciation:A-nee Med-e-ber En-glayt
Hebrew Spelling:אני מדבר אנגלית
Meaning:I Speak English

This is perhaps the most polite way you can tell a local that you have not got the slightest clue what they are saying. They will understand, smile at your inevitable mispronunciation, and automatically engage with you in English or, in some cases, broken English; either way, it’s a win-win situation. You got to practice one of your basic Hebrew phrases and keep your dignity, and the local got to smile. Hopefully, you’re all smiling.

(Video) Learn the Top 20 Travel Phrases You Should Know in Hebrew

8. (The name of your country in Hebrew)

Often, saying the name of your country in your language means nothing to a local Tel Avivian who has not got a high level of English. For instance, I often tell Israelis that I’m from Ireland, only for them not to have a clue what I’m talking about, so I quickly change my pronunciation to Irr-Land. Straight away they know where that is!

Just do a quick Google search for the “Hebrew pronunciation of (your country)” and the correct term will come up.

9. Ze

Hebrew Spelling:זֶה

This may be your secret weapon in your arsenal of basic Hebrew phrases. It means “that” and you can use it when you point at stuff to emphasize what it is you are pointing at. For instance, in a shop, if you want to ask for something behind the counter, point your finger like the magic wand that it is and cast your spell ’ze‘ and the shopkeeper will know exactly what you want. Local Israelis generally don’t speak like this, but it’s very effective. I often take out my magic wand in shops, especially when ordering falafel.

10. Efo sherotim?

Pronunciation:ei-fo sher-O-teem
Hebrew Spelling:איפה השירותים
Meaning:Where is the Toilet?

When out and about, the last thing you want is to get stuck for a toilet and it just might lead to a disaster if the very thing that prevents you from getting to a toilet in time is your inability to ask where the toilet is. This phrase is a lifesaver, as sometimes you just won’t have time to find someone who understands your English. Being able to whip out an ’Efo sherotim?’ may be just what you need for someone to point you in the right direction.

Basic Hebrew Phrases

For more simple Hebrew phrases that you can use on your nextvisit to Tel Aviv, check out theseCommonHebrew Phrases

There are endless Hebrew phrases, many of which are more complex than the ones mentioned above. Whether you choose to challenge yourself enough to speak these or not is up to you. The best phrase we can teach you isn’t even made up of words, and it means the same in Hebrew as it does in any other language and that is to smile, make eye contact, and always be respectful of others. These are the phrases of the universal language that is body language and everybody, to some degree, is already fluent.

Which basic Hebrew phrases would you encourage a first time visitor to Tel Aviv to learn? Let us know in the comment section below!

Article by Scott D. Renwick



Basic Hebrew Phrases Every Israeli Tourist Should Know? ›

Basic Hebrew for Travelers
  • Shalom. Literally means “peace” and if you learn one word to use in Israel, make it this one. ...
  • Sababa. Alright, this is your basic “cool”, “great”, “alright”. ...
  • Beseder. ...
  • Chen & Lo. ...
  • Ma nishmá ...
  • Ech holech. ...
  • Toda (also Toda Raba) ...
  • Be te'avon.
Jul 26, 2013

What are some Hebrew phrases? ›

11 Essential Hebrew Phrases to Know
  • Shalom ve lehitraot (hello, goodbye, and see you later) ...
  • Boker tov / layla tov (Good morning / night) ...
  • Toda, bevaskasha, sliha (thanks, you're welcome, sorry/excuse me) ...
  • Ma kore? ...
  • Lo hevanti (I don't understand) ...
  • Mamash, legamrey (totally, absolutely)

What does Neshama Sheli mean? ›

Neshama sheli – 'my soul' – has become a popular term of endearment among Israelis.

How do you say common phrases in Hebrew? ›

Learn the Top 25 Must-Know Hebrew Phrases - YouTube

What does Ma nishma mean? ›

Ma nishma? Literally means “what will we hear?” but when used as slang it means, “what's up?” Anytime you here ma nishma in Israel it means, “what's up?” I've never heard it used as its literal meaning.

What does Layla Tov mean? ›

layla tov = good night.

What does Ma Shlomech mean? ›

מַה שְּׁלוֹמֵךְ, Ma shlomekh? This literally means, "How do you do?" After מַה שְּׁלוֹמְךָ, Ma shlomkha (for asking a male) or מַה שְּׁלוֹמֵךְ, Ma shlomekh (for asking a female), we will cover "My name is...," and we will use my name this time.

What does Babaqasha mean? ›

Babaqasha is biblical Hebrew for Bevakhasha, your welcome or please.

What does motek Sheli mean? ›

English translation:You love and I love, but I also love you my sweetheart!

What does Kapara Alecha mean? ›

One such expression is 'Kapara Alecha' or 'כפרה עליך' which literally means 'atonement over you'. The phrase is used to express affection and appreciation and if someone says it to you then you are definitely in their good books.

What does Sheket Bevakasha mean? ›

While speaking with Rubin he turned to Kimmel and yelled, “Sheket bevakasha!” which means “Quiet, please,” in Hebrew.

What is Bevakasha? ›

4. בבקשה (bevakasha) Please. It means please but it can also mean “there you go”.

What does Tov mean in Hebrew? ›

The Hebrew word meaning "good"

What does Kol Tuv mean in Hebrew? ›

"All the best" (JPS), a closing or farewell.

What does Yalla mean in Israel? ›

Yalla (יאללה)

Depending on your tone of voice and the context, it can mean “Let's go”, “Hurry up”, “See you later”, “Ready to go?”, “Let's do it”… the variations are endless! My favorite is how it can be used to effectively end a phone conversation once you've said what you need to say; “Yalla, bye”. Just like that.

What does Tov Meod mean in Hebrew? ›

טוֹב מְאוֹד (tov meod) - Hebrew->English - Polly Lingual: Learn foreign languages with interactive lessons, games and live video tutors. טוֹב מְאוֹד tov meod. Very good.

What does Yalla mean in Hebrew? ›

Yalla (יאללה)

Depending on your tone of voice and the context, it can mean “Let's go”, “Hurry up”, “See you later”, “Ready to go?”, “Let's do it”… the variations are endless! My favorite is how it can be used to effectively end a phone conversation once you've said what you need to say; “Yalla, bye”. Just like that.

What is a Hebrew idiom? ›

Ask a Hebrew Teacher - What are Some Common Hebrew Idioms?

How do you greet in Hebrew? ›

Learn Hebrew - Hebrew in Three Minutes - Greetings - YouTube

How do you say sorry in Hebrew? ›

Hebrew Word of the Day: I'm Sorry - YouTube

In Israel it’s even highly likely that the Israelis you might be speaking to are actually American—ones who’ve made Aliyah .. That’s why below you’ll find a random selection of the Hebrew words and phrases that you’re likely to come across.. I’ve tried to simply share their meanings but with some helpful tips on how and why you might have to use these Hebrew words.. Friendly way of asking friends “do you want to go to the beach and have a good time, maybe buy some cheap beers and make up funny stories about the tourists on the beach?” Also related: Ma koreh (what’s happening?). Bevakasha is the Hebrew word for please .. And if you do, then you’ll need to know the next Hebrew phrase…. (Note: I’ve never taken a Birthright trip myself, but they’re nearly impossible to miss.). Making Aliyah If you run into enough Birthright tours in Israel, then this is a phrase you might hear a lot.. Zionism is essentially Jewish nationalism for a Jewish state in what is Israel today.

English – This language used to be one of the country’s official languages due to British colonization.. Many Israelis understand and speak Hebrew, as it is the most common language they use in everyday life.. What sets Hebrew apart from other languages is that it is simpler than many western languages.. Similar to other Semitic languages, the majority of Hebrew word roots consists of three letters.. When you’re visiting the country for the first time, it can be helpful (and sometimes necessary) to know a handful of basic Hebrew words and phrases.. Make the most of your trip to Israel by understanding and taking note of these common Hebrew words and phrases:. This word, when loosely translated, means, “You’re welcome.” Its direct translation, however, means “please.”. This basic Hebrew expression, which means, “I speak English,” is a polite way to tell a local that you don’t have a clue on what they’re saying.. Keep these basic Hebrew words and phrases in mind when you’re touring the beautiful country of Israel.

The cool thing about Hebrew slang is that some expressions commonly used today date back to the revitalization of the language and are a mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, and English.. Here are 20 essential Hebrew slang expressions you’ll need to get by in Israel :. It is used in daily language to express one’s desire to get people moving.. If there was an Israeli version of the Jersey Shore, then the Snookis and Vinnys on that show would be called arsim.. Literally means “what will we hear?” but when used as slang it means, “what’s up?” Anytime you here ma nishma in Israel it means, “what’s up?” I’ve never heard it used as its literal meaning.. 20 Hebrew Slang Expressions You Need to Know. 20 Hebrew Slang Expressions You Need to Know.. This expression literally means “not the sharpest pencil in the pencil case.” When used as slang it means that someone is not the smartest or has done something stupid.. Have you traveled to Israel?. Are there any Hebrew slang expressions you would add to this list?. I love to write and can’t wait to share my experiences and challenges abroad with other women travelers!

To try your hand at it, here are a few Hebrew phrases you are likely to hear over and over again during your stay.. A. word of warning – don’t be insulted if, after trying your best Hebrew. words on them, Israelis reply to you in English.. Just like you’d like to. practice speaking Hebrew, they’re happy to have a chance to practice. their English.. To save you from having to learn the Hebrew alphabet first, though,. we've written all the Hebrew phrases below as you would pronounce them. in English.. Literally, the word “shalom” means peace.. The “ch” in the first and last words is a hard, guttural sound.. If you are not at a. prayer service and lots of people suddenly start screaming “Shmah. Israel,” run for your life.. Price should start dropping rapidly.. “Ta’aseh li ketzat ha’naha?” This means, “Would you give me a little discount?”. One of the most profitable Hebrew phrases, this is a question. that’s worth asking especially when you are buying several items.. But if you’re buying three sweaters, don’t be shy. about asking nicely for a discount.. All they can. say is no, and many times the answer will be yes.. The pivotal words to listen for will be either: veh (and) or leh (to).. Of course, both shopping and telling time will be a lot easier if, in addition to these few Hebrew phrases, you've also practiced your Hebrew numbers.. Jerusalem > Learn to Speak Hebrew > Useful Hebrew Phrases

The best time to go to Israel: If you want to sunbathe on the beaches of Tel Aviv or snorkel in Eilat, the best time to go to Israel is between June and September.. Language: Hebrew is Israel’s official language.. “Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem, Israel” by Roxanne Desgagnés© Weather: Since Israel is a Mediterranean country, the weather is a sweet summer dream for everyone who loves the sun.. Now that you know some of the most important tips and insights about vacationing in Israel, let’s continue with some basic Hebrew words you will probably need during this amazing trip to Israel:. pharmacy – בית מרקחת – beyt merkachat ticket – כרטיס -– kartees toilet – שירותים – shehrooteem airport – שדה תעופה – sdeh te’oofa taxi – מונית – moneet train station – תחנת רכבת – takhanat rakevet bus station – תחנת האוטובוס – takhanat ha’otoboos hotel – בית מלון – beyt malon beach – חוף – khof help – עזר – azar restaurant – מסעדה – mees’ada supermarket – כלבו – kolbo souvenir – מזכרת – mazkeret. First, we will explore Hebrew greetings, continue with some common ways to ask for help in Hebrew, basic phrases for when you’ll go to an Israeli restaurant and some basic phrases for shopping sprees.. – Anee rotseh ma’eem meeneralee’eem.

There are a whole host of Jewish greetings that are said during Jewish lifecycle events and Jewish holidays.. If you heard a Hebrew or Yiddish phrase and weren’t sure exactly what the person meant, we’ve listed some of the most common Jewish phrases and their meanings.. And, if you are looking to confirm the right way to greet a Jewish person for their lifecycle event or during a Jewish holiday, we have also included audio to ensure that you say the Jewish phrase properly!. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewB’sha’ah tovahBe-sha-ah Toe-vahIn a good hourבשעה טובהSince the expectant mother has not delivered the baby yet, it’s more appropriate to say the words which mean “in a good hour” as opposed to a premature congratulations.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewMazal TovMah-zuhl TahvGood luck or congratulationsמַזָּל טוֹבBaruch Ha’bahBah-rooch Ha-bahBlessed be the one who comesבָּרוּךְ הַבָּאMazal Tov is the most appropriate expression to use at a Jewish baby naming.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewYasher Ko’ach (Yishar Ko’acha)Yah-share Ko-achMay your strength increase or go straight.יִישַׁר כֹּחֲךָMazal TovMah-zuhl TahvGood luck or congratulationsמַזָּל טוֹבAfter a person becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, it is most appropriate to say Mazal Tov.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewShabbat ShalomShaw-bot Shaw-lohmSabbath peaceשַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם Shavua TovShaw-voo-ah TohvA good weekשָׁבוּעַ טוֹב Shabbat Shalom is the most popular greeting for Shabbat, the seventh day of rest of the Jewish week.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewHappy New Year!Shana Tovah or L’shanah TovahShah-nah Toh-vah or Leh-Shah-nah Toh-vahA good yearשָׁנָה טוֹבָהShana Tovah U’metukahShah-nah Toh-vah OomehtookahMay you have a good and sweet new year!שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָהL’shanah tovah tikateivu v’teichateimuLeh-Shah-nah Toh-vah Teekahtayvoo Vehtay-chah-taymooMay you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ וְתֵחָתֵמוּGut Yontif (Yiddish)Goot Yun-tiffGood Festival DayThe words Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew directly translate to Head of the Year in Hebrew which is not exactly what you would expect since it is the Jewish New Year.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewHave an easy (meaningful) fast!I apologize for wronging you.G’mar Chatima TovahGemar Chateemah Toh-vahA good final sealingגְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָהG’mar TovGemar TohvA good end (finish)גְּמַר טוֹבTzom KalTzohm-callEasy fastצוֹם קַלYom Kippur is the holiest day of the year and depending on the greeting, you can actually reach out for the 10 days prior to the high holiday.. A Jewish person will fast on this day so you wish them an easy or meaningful fast – either adjective will be appreciated – or you can say G’mar Chatima Tovah/G’mar Tov which is a gesture letting them know you hope that they will be “inscribed in the book of life!” A Jewish person might apologize to you for any wrongdoings they have committed against you that year, and if you wanted to, you could apologize to them as well.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewHappy Hanukkah!Hanukkah SameachHanukkah Saw-may-achHappy Hanukkahחֲנוּכָּה שַׂמֵחַChag SameachChog Saw-may-achHappy Holidayחַג שַׂמֵחַHanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Temple after it was desecrated by a Syrian army.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewHappy Purim!Chag PurimChog Purr-eemHappy Purim חַג פוּרִיםChag SameachChog Saw-may-achHappy Holidayחַג שַׂמֵחַWe commemorate and celebrate the saving of the Jewish people from Haman during the Purim holiday by reading the story in the Book of Esther, dressing up in costume, attending carnivals, exchanging gifts, and helping the poor.. Jewish GreetingTransliterationLiteral MeaningHebrewHappy Passover!Chag SameachChog Saw-may-achHappy Holidayחַג שַׂמֵחַChag Pesach Sameach or Pesach SameachChog Pay-soch Saw-may-achHappy Passover Holiday or Happy Passoverחַג פֵּסַח שַׂמֵחַChag Kasher V’sameachChog Kaw-share Veh-saw-may-achHave a happy and kosher festivalחַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַGut Yontif (Yiddish)Goot Yun-tiffGood Festival DayGut Moed (Yiddish)Goot Moe-edGood Intermediary DaysAs you can see, there are quite a few variations in Passover greetings, but if you stick to Happy Passover or Pesach Sameach which means the same in Hebrew, you will be more than set up for success.

It’s kind of difficult to explain a holler to someone who doesn’t speak the language that uses phrases like “the holler.” But I know exactly what a holler is and I know what it’d mean for someone to run a deer to me — and also that it’d probably not be the best to be positioned in a holler in order to shoot a deer.. Shalom is a rich word which means “ peace ” or “well-being.” To have shalom means to be in peace and prosperity and to have completeness.. The word appears again when Joseph asks about the shalom of his brothers and his father ( Gen. 43:27-28 ).. The prophet Jeremiah speaks against those who pronounce a false shalom, thus solidifying that true shalom will only come through the work of the LORD.. This is an important word because it is a word that describes the ultimate destiny of believers in Jesus.. Most people know the word Torah as the first five books of the Old Testament.. But the word itself means “law” or “direction, guidance, instruction.” It occurs 220 times in the Hebrew OT, 36 times in the Psalms .. The word hesed appears 245 times in the OT and is pretty evenly distributed throughout the various books of the Old Testament.. This is why you’ll often see this word blended with love and another adjectival word.. The word itself means “to cease” or “to come to an end.” It means to rest.. That is a transliteration of this Hebrew word.. This word only appears 39 times in the Old Testament, but one could say that the entire Bible is centered around this word.. The word was often used of the kings in the Old Testament.


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