Hilarious Hebrew! The language of laughter..

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Hilarious Hebrew! The language of laughter..

Fiona Green is a features writer

Fiona Leckerman takes a look at Hilarious Hebrew, a new book written by two Israeli ex-pats in the UK who use daft memory cues to make words stick…

Hilarious Hebrew teaches the language through word associations

Have you heard the one about the two Israelis who found a brand new way to teach Hebrew? When Yael Breuer told her friend Eyal Shavit about the humorous and innovative way she was using word association to teach Hebrew to her students in Brighton, he found it brilliant and began to add to her growing list of sentences. At first they did this just to amuse each other, until that number became too large and the possibility of turning their idea into a book took shape.

This perfectly pocket sized dictionary style book that teaches Hebrew through word associations and is accompanied by very comical illustrations makes it a jolly way to remember and learn a new language. Yael Breuer explains that teaching Hebrew to English speakers is difficult from the outset because “Hebrew bears no relation to English, it’s of a completely different family, the book makes this process easy.”

Published in November 2014, it took two years for Breuer and Shavit to complete. Breuer says, “We thought of each and every sentence for hours to ensure that it was not only entertaining but sounded right too.” Breuer, who had been using this idea for years with her students, said “it brought fun to the lessons. What started as a joke really became our product, our baby.” Setting up their own publishing company Pitango Publishing Breuer describes “We agonised over the look of the book, we wanted to see the whole process, for example it took 4 or 5 illustrators before we found Aubrey Smith, who we knew was the right choice.”

The book cleverly uses sentences in English, with recognisable illustrations, to introduce Hebrew words. For example a witty caricature of Mick Jagger typing on a computer is captioned with the sentence, The Rolling Stones were given a class on how to use a keyboard, Mick led it. The Hebrew word for keyboard is mik’leh’det. In another we see a man zooming in a speeding car, it is captioned The fastest car in the world belongs to Barack Obama. It goes like lightning. And, of course, this is followed by explanation that the Hebrew word for lightning is bah’rak. A seated lady is drawn screaming in pain, her arms waving in the air, there is a fork impaled in her leg; I accidentally stuck a fork in Ma’s leg. Naturally the Hebrew word for fork is mah’zleg.

The humour is quite rightly hilarious and the Hebrew is memorable, making Hilarious Hebrew a must-have learning companion. And if you’re not learning, this book is a great place to start. In the case of Hilarious Hebrew, you really should judge a book by its cover.

Hilarious Hebrew is published by Pitango, £7.99 For more details, visit www.hilarioushebrew.com

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: