Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started?
The Hebrew Café is currently running a forum for the study of Hebrew (either modern or biblical) and Aramaic (biblical). There is currently (as of June 2015) one group working through an Aramaic study using the textbook An Introduction to Aramaic by Frederick Greenspahn.

You can begin a study group in the following way:
  1. Register on the forum.
  2. In either the Hebrew Discussion or Aramaic Discussion subforums start a new post expressing interest in studying the language and asking if anyone is interested in joining you.
  3. Along with those who are interested, choose a book and a way of communicating with each other. Skype is recommended for meetings to discuss what you’re learning and get feedback from an instructor. You can get Skype for free here.
  4. Contact Jason to get access to a study forum password and to set up a subforum for your study.
  5. Choose a facilitator who will open assignment threads, and then post your work in those threads to compare and discuss throughout the week. Anyone from the group may open new threads to address questions or difficulties (or simply to talk about what you’re learning).
How much does it cost?
All courses at the Hebrew Café are completely free.
Which textbook should I use?
The problem with textbooks is that what one person loves another may despise, and vice-versa. The Hebrew from Scratch series on our resource page comes highly recommended, yet many find the fact that it is essentially all in Hebrew can be challenging and frustrating.

Probably the easiest introduction to reading Hebrew is what is endearingly called the Shalav series. It is Hebrew in “stages” (shlavim שלבים). More information about this series will soon be placed on the resources page.

We can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each textbook on the forum, should you be interested in our opinions. In the end, the best textbook is the one that works for you. If you try one and do not success, choose another and try again.
Is Skype safe?
Some people may not feel comfortable communicating with others over Skype, especially with showing their face on camera. First of all, if you ever have a problem with another learner, you may choose to remove them from your contacts on Skype or block them without impunity. You should never be afraid to meet someone on Skype, so long as you are a smart Internet user. Never give out your private information to another person online. Never give out your home address, your credit card details, your personal identity number (Social Security Number), driver’s license number, etc. to anyone online who asks for it, unless it is someone that you trust.

If you are smart and careful, you have nothing to worry about from having a conversation over Skype. It is irrational to be afraid when your phone rings and you pick up the phone, and it is similarly irrational to fear that someone will take over your computer or steal your identity just by getting you to engage with them over Skype. It is perfectly safe.
What are some common phrases in Hebrew?
See our Talk Bits for some conversational Hebrew tidbits. More Talk Bits are on their way, so keep posted and check back!