Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feel Bad About Your Hebrew? Don't!

Do you feel inferior because you can't read Hebrew at the speed of light like your congregation? No need to feel that way.

A) It'll come. Really. Just keep slogging through it. Lest you think I'm being dismissive, I assure you I'm right there with you, struggling to read at a non-embarrassing speed. I spend most of my Jewish life in English still.

B) I'll bet you're still better at Hebrew than the people profiled at Bad Hebrew Tattoos! Be warned, the pictures are not the most tznius, but I haven't seen any actual inappropriate parts so far. It just gets very close.

Unexpected teaching moment: Read the posts and try to see why the tattoos are wrong. Oftentimes, it's a very small writing mistake that turns the intended letter into a different letter. It'll help cement the letters in your mind because you'd never want such a small mistake to turn "parsha" into "Porshe." The sheer hilarity and sympathetic embarrassment will help even more! It even helps train you to read other Hebrew scripts!


  1. It's no different from any other skill which 98% of people are bad at in the beginning but slowly but surely the same 98% can achieve a respectable level of proficiency with good ol' persistence.

  2. I have always admired and been greatly inspired by truth seekers like you who work so hard to become a part of and take part in what you believe. So nice to 'meet' you and I'm sure you'll catch up in no time.

  3. We also need to remember that dyslexia and other learning disorders are not consistent through other languages. Someone who has no trouble reading and comprehending long scholarly essays in English may find themselves dyslexic in Hebrew. This is quite normal and can cause frustration when trying to over come this hurdle; but don't fret, it can be done.

  4. You know, thinking about it, I should clarify that obviously I did not mean 98% literally. I have no actual stats about any skill. I meant to be encouraging, and certainly don't intend to be discouraging to those who feel that their time and effort hasn't been paying off. It would be awful if they got the impression that 98% of people would have figured it out by now.

  5. As Rabbi Larry Kushner says, if you're slow at reading Hebrew, it's because you don't know all the Hebrew words yet. When you come across an English word you don't know, you read it just as slowly the first time.

    The key to reading Hebrew faster is to learn more Hebrew. Which, for me, is hard, but I'm trying!

  6. I was really terrible at reading Hebrew out loud for a long time, but then I got better--it seemed to happen all of a sudden.

    By the way, that "Bad Hebrew Tattoos" site is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. I laughed so hard I was gasping for breath.
    --The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret