CBS: 27% of Israelis struggle with Hebrew
Yaron Druckman
Published: 21.01.13, 15:25
Comment Comment
Print comment Print comment
Back to article
43 Talkbacks for this article
1. A nation of immigrants, what do you expect??
Avi   (01.21.13)
2. Language ability
Green Baron ,   Bethesda, MD, USA   (01.21.13)
As for learning Hebrew, or some other language as a second language for tha matter, some people just do not have facility with foreign languages. In my own case, however, I have learned to speak at least two dozen different languages, none of which can be identified.
3. Then they should put more effort into learning Hebrew!
EST ,   Miami USA   (01.21.13)
There was a time when any newcomer to Israel made it his/her first priority to learn Hebrew so as to assimilate into the yishuv. Today, they refuse to do so because they keep speaking their first language with friends and "demand" that Israel bow down to them....It is just plain wrong! If they want to continue speaking Russian only, then stay in Russia, Spanish only, in the Latin countries, English only...same thing!!! I am not referring to the elderly, who have a different issue going but the majority of olim should once again make it a priority to learn Hebrew!!!
4. I can assure you
Mira ,   Vienna   (01.21.13)
that about 40% of the Austrians have problems with writing German, though it is the mother tongue of more than 90%, it is a question of intelligence and will. Nevertheless they get what they want and same in Israel, I lived there for many years Hebrew not my mother tongue, but I learned it. And compared with many other toungues it is a beautiful one, soft and sounding nice and it should be cherished by any Israeli.
stude ham   (01.21.13)
6. How many Americans speak English?
michael redbourn ,   Arad Israel   (01.21.13)
Hispanics make up around 14% of the US population and most can barely speak English. Most Angelinos (Los Angeles) are reckoned to have a vocabulary of around 300 words! Is that knowing English? And when many American Blacks speak, it's difficult to know what they are trying to convey.
7. hoch Hebrew is dead language
observer ,   Egypt   (01.21.13)
half of Israel's population are Arab Jews!
8. I wouldn't count first generation immigrants if I were you.
leo ,   usa   (01.21.13)
9. Rishon Deputy Mayor doesn't speak Hebrew
David ,   Rishon Lezion   (01.21.13)
Vadim, the Deputy Mayor of Rishon Lezion, the 4th biggest city in Israel speaks only Russian. In addressing our Ulpan students, he unbelievebly spoke only Russian and refused to talk Hebrew or English because I suspect, he can not. It's certainly revealing that a man can rise to this level in a City government in modern Israel without the ability to speak Hebrew. The Russian community is insular and because of it's numbers can exist as a population within a population and because it's politically expedient, the local and national parties bow to the phenomenon.
10. #7 what are you talking about?
michael redbourn ,   Arad Israel   (01.21.13)
If you're talking about the Jews that came from Arab countries then they speak much better Hebrew than the Ashkinzeem who can't articulate the difference between ayin and alef and chet and chalf. What is that you want to say? Surely you're not talking about Israeli Arabs?
11. #4
Modern Hebrew sounds like someone trying to cough up phlegm. Modern Hebrew is for new European immigrants and has nothing to do with the spoken or written ancient Hebrew.
12. Anyone for Ulpan?
Chaim ,   Arad   (01.21.13)
Unfortunately, those who have taken Ulpan have found that the teachers have an agenda for the day. Therefore teach at high speed and those who get it, great! Those who don't, too bad.
13. What percent of journalists can add to 100
RGP ,   Haifa   (01.21.13)
14. I have a much tougher time with Hebrew these days
Raymond in DC ,   Washington, USA   (01.21.13)
My first time in Israel was my longest stay - just over a year. And in that time I developed a fair proficiency - not great, but more than passable. That was some 40 years ago, but I'd have a tougher time today regaining that proficiency. The reasons are myriad. First, Israel then put a greater emphasis on language integration, including devoting the requisite resources. Back then, for example, Israel Radio devoted a nightly program to News in "Ivrit Kalah" (easy Hebrew). Nothing like that exists today. Second, Ulpan programs were widespread and cheap, and many were excellent (like the one I took at the Jerusalem Municipality); today there are fewer such programs. Israel's native speakers have also made it harder for us foreigners because they're speaking faster, and slurring rather than enunciating. It's thus that much more difficult, especially for us older folks. Apropos, I have a friend who made aliyah about ten years ago. He struggled for quite a while with bank, utility and insurance forms, but fortunately an Israeli he'd known in the US was available to help with the translations. Not every oleh has access to such assistance.
15. its understandable
zionist forever   (01.21.13)
All languages are constantly evolving but hebrew is used only in Israel but in a digital age Israelis are exposed to more and more foreign language stuff at the expense of hebrew. In the old days before there was so much exposure to the outside world, a much smaller population and the country seemed even smaller because of that lack of outside exposure people were much more likely to be more formal. Once you might talk to somebody and you would say BESEDER when your agreeing today its not uncommon for people to say OK. That is obviously exposure to english. When it comes to things like numberst there hardly even seems to be any logic in having male & female. I am male have had plenty of times when males talk to me about EHAT rather than EHAD. Language evolution happens everywhere but because hebrew is used only in Israel its more noticeable when it starts changing. As a spoken language its not much more than 100 years old and as a national language even less. I think also in the old days when the country had a smaller population, less outside exposure, smaller neighbourhoods it was easy to do things the formal way but as the population grew and outside exposure grew a street language developed.
16. Hebrew
I came to Israel alone. Learn Hebrew on my own with books since I wasn't able to afford ulpan (I'm not entitled to Oleh hadash statut). I was writing, reading and speaking Hebrew within a year... I have living here for 6 years. I work, pay my taxes, get involved into the Israeli society and yet... Israel refuses to give me citizenship because I'm not Jewish.
17. Hebrew is a miracle. Take a look at S. America!
michael redbourn ,   Arad Israel   (01.21.13)
Nobody in S. America speaks their native language! Only Portuguese and Spanish!
18. 3
zionist forever   (01.21.13)
I remember there was a meeting of the vard habit ( resident association ) once as it was to discuses major rapair work to the building I think it was so quite a few people turned out. We were sitting there and we had quite a few immigrants who had been there many years only spoke french, there were was a woman who only spoke russian, there were Israelis who only spoke hebrew ( I was the only one who spoke english & hebrew ). As it was such an important issue they decided to bring in somebody to translate but it really was funny to see all these people speaking only one language trying to have a discussion with others who spoke only 1 language and it wasn't the same as theirs.
19. #11 Can you give us an example of what
A ,   Belgium   (01.21.13)
ancient Hebrew sounded like? Got a recording or something, or are you going by a certain Mel Gibson movie? While you're at it, what did the English of George Washington, or the Dutch of Jan Vermeer sound like? I'm really interested in hearing what you have.
20. English Language
Clive   (01.21.13)
Nothing new, here in the UK English as the local language is becoming a rarity in several areas....
21. Make it Mandatory, period.
My Planet Israel ,   LA-Jerusalem   (01.21.13)
The arabs are prejudice against the Jews unless they're christian (at least for the most part) so its no surprising 12% of those don't speak it. But as for the Russian population, its totally disgusting. They've become a whole different culture within the Jewish State and it needs to be undone. While cultural aspects can and should most certainly be preserved, if these people come to live here, they MUST make it mandatory for them to speak, read and write in Hebrew. Most countries don't accommodate such arrogance and ignorance in their borders. Why should we?
22. Sue me....
Mitchell Cohen ,   Gush Etzion, Israel   (01.21.13)
....I made aliyah at age 24 from America, so English is and will ALWAYS be my mother-tongue. However, I am TOTALLY fluent in Hebrew. The only thing I still have to learn is how to blind type in Hebrew, but speaking, reading, writing, etc. I do fluently. Also, I speak with my kids in ENGLISH at home, nor do I feel like this is a crime. On the contrary, I would feel like a crime for depriving my kids of the opportunity to be bilingual. My kids' Hebrew does not suffer as a result. In fact, my daughter reads and writes better in Hebrew than most of her classmates for whom Hebrew is their only language. This is not ME saying this, but my daughter's teachers. Yes, every immigrant to Israel should make an effort to become fluent in Hebrew. Those who don't make the effort are lo beseder. However, this article makes it sound like a crime for Hebrew not to be your mother tongue or to speak your native language to your kids at home....
23. #16 How came?
Aaron ,   Eu/ il   (01.21.13)
Are you married to an Israeli? I'm sure though that there must be a law that gives citizenship after living a certain period of time in Israel ("naturalization" it's usually called in legal terms), regardless of the religion. The only thing I know for sure is that double/multi - citizenship is forbidden for non-Jews (in contrast to Jewish Israelis!).
24. #8 - you are correct and the grandkids for sure!
michael redbourn ,   Arad Israel   (01.21.13)
I know Russian parents that only speak Russian to their kids at home so that they will know the language. Their children speak a mangled Russian and feel more comfortable with Hebrew because it's what they speak at school and with their friends. When the grandparents speak to their grandchildren in Russian the kids understand but they answer in Hebrew.
25. 27% of Israelis struggle with Hebrew
Harold ,   USA   (01.21.13)
The majority of Israelis do not speak the original Hebrew language because it is difficult for them to pronouce the real Hebrew semitic alphabets. It sounds very funny when you hear an English Jew speaks Hebrew or Arabic.
26. 23 Wrong
Charles   (01.21.13)
I am not Jewish and from another country and my wife is an Arab Israeli and I have dual citizenship after getting Israeli citizenship because of my marriage to her. In fact its the law. and quite normal here in Israel.
27. No memory cells ?
Barbara ,   Haifa Israel   (01.21.13)
Percentage that don't know Hebrew can ask among their community, which political party has what Hebrew letters on the ballot slips and memorize just those letters. How can that be difficult? And, it is beyond my comprehension, as to how these Israeli citizens are allowed to be citizens, without the fundamental language.
28. It gets harder
Sarah ,   Beit Shemesh   (01.21.13)
The older one gets the harder it is to learn a new language, but it is difficult for the young ones to understand that. I was the same when I was young, I picked up three languages, no problem, but I couldn't understand why my mother had problems learning English. Since making aliyah as an 'oldie' and finding learning Hebrew very difficult, I totally sympathise what my mother had gone through!!
29. #16
Kenneth Hutchings ,   Southport   (01.21.13)
double /multi citizenship Is alowed for non Jews I myself have British and Israeli citizenship.
30. 16
zionist forever   (01.21.13)
You got people like you here but you cant get citizenship because your not Jewish. There are also Jews who are here for all the wrong reasons that have no trouble with alliyah. I remember going out to a bar with some friends once and some American who knew one of my friends had tagged along. He told us how he decided to make alliyah because he had got divorced, sold the house for the settlement and the business he owned had gone under a real traditional down on your luck story. Olim get all kinds of benefits so he felt it would be easier to make a fresh start in Israel and he felt was easier to manage on a low budget to than it is in the US. He wasn't embarrassed that his reasons for being here were purely financial and didn't think there was anything wrong with it. I didn't say anything but I was disgusted because felt you don't do alliyah just because your down on your luck and think life will be easier n Israel. I don't know how long he had been in Israel but he didn't speak any hebrew.
Next talkbacks
Back to article