The Immediate Pros and Cons of Learning Hebrew

2 min read
Yonatan Engler
Yonatan Engler

So, we know learning Hebrew can have actual long-term benefits, like being independent, enjoying Israeli culture, being a contributing member to the Israeli society, yada yada. But what about here, now, today?!

These are the real, immediate, relevant pros and cons of learning Hebrew.

PRO: Finally having conversations with your Israeli co-workers!

You’ve been waiting so long just to be part of the “in crowd” at work. You can now join in on work conversations and give your two shekels. Even if it just means saying “כן לגמרי” to everything.

CON: Understanding what your Israeli co-workers are actually saying…

What you thought was an interesting political argument was in reality a heated conversation about the guy who sells hummus across the street.

PRO: Dealing with the bank all by yourself!

Talk about a proud moment! Everyone knows how frustrating it can be dealing with Israeli “service.” The banks are no fun, regardless of what language you use. But now you can do it all by yourself, in Hebrew. Woohoo!

CON: Israelis responding to you in English either way…

Talk about annoying. No matter how good your Hebrew is, Israelis want to practice their English, or have an excuse to show off.

PRO: Watching all the TV channels! Not just the four English ones.

You know that TV you have at home with all those channels you never watch? Well, now you can probably understand what they’re saying (at least more so than before, because Israelis can talk really fast, and even they need Hebrew subtitles when watching Hebrew TV).

CON: Still not understanding a word of the news…

Yeah. The Israeli news is like another language altogether. They use words and combinations of words you’ll rarely hear on the street. As fluent as you may become in Hebrew, learning to watch Hebrew news on TV is a whole ‘nother journey.

PRO: Telling someone off in Hebrew

Almost got run into by someone on their scooter or electric bike? Tell them like it is – in Hebrew. But don’t go crazy. Less is more.

CON: Learning the translations to swear words

So, that’s what this means? You hear those swear words everywhere. In Israel, even your mother-in-law can have a sailor’s mouth. And now you know what the direct translations are. Holy s#@!


Alva Yaffe was born in Israel, but raised in Canada (Montreal and Toronto). She now lives in Tel Aviv, after making Aliyah in 2013, when she was 27 years old. Since then, she has married an Israeli, lived in over five places across the country, worked, studied, graduated with an MA in Art Therapy, and recently became a mother.

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