The Joys of Hebrew

The Joys of Hebrew

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When should you say an amida or mazal tov? What is a golem or a chaluts? What is the English equivalent to the Talmudic expression 'a sheep's tail with a thorn in it'? The answers lie in this unique dictionary of over 600 of the best-known Hebrew words and phrases that have found their way into English. Ranging from Acharon to Zohar, and illustrated throughout with extracts from sources as diverse as the Bible, the Talmud, folklore, and the works of such writers as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Woody Allen, this celebration of Jewish wit, wisdom, and tradition makes an irresistible more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 144.78 x 231.14 x 30.48mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195074246
  • 9780195074246

Back cover copy

When do you say mazal tov? What is the English equivalent to the Talmudic expression Alya ve-kots ba ("a sheep's tail with a thorn in it")? What is a get, a golem, a kibbutz, a chalutz? What four plant species are waved during prayers on the harvest festival of Sukkot? You'll find answers to these questions and hundreds of others - all in clear English - in this remarkable collection of the best known, most loved Hebrew words and phrases in the English-speaking world. From Acharon to Zohar, this informative and often humorous dictionary features over six hundred Hebrew words and expressions arranged in alphabetical order (as well as an appendix listing all entry words in their Hebrew form). The first such guide to Hebrew, this volume is more than a mere lexicon - it is a jubilant celebration of Hebrew itself, a treasure trove of Jewish wit, wisdom, culture, and tradition. Lewis Glinert provides a concise definition of each entry, and then illustrates the word's usage with generous passages from the Bible and the Talmud, the prayers and the sayings of famous rabbis, the razor's edge of Jewish humor, excerpts from the work of Elie Wiesel, Adin Steinsaltz, S.Y. Agnon, Martin Buber, Naomi Shemer and other distinguished writers, folklore from all over the Jewish world, and colorful slices of modern Israeli life. There are words directly related to the practice of religion, such as amida (a prayer said standing, under one's breath, essentially a cry for help - for wisdom, health, peace, prosperity, and so forth) as well as the names of all the Jewish holy days and religious customs; words from everyday Jewish experience, such as peot (the long sidecurls customarily worn by the Chasidim); manywords familiar from their use in Israel, such as rega (literally, "one moment", it is the Israeli equivalent of Mexico's manana) or miluim (army reserve service); and many traditional sayings, such as Tsarat rabim chatsi nechama ("A public woe is half a comfort"). In addition, Glinert provides at the back of the book an alphabetical list of familiar biblical names in English, Sephardi/Israeli Hebrew, and Ashkenazi Hebrew. This celebration of Hebrew language and culture is a joy to read and to use. Everyone from Bible students to collectors of Judaica, from Jackie Mason fans to people planning a journey to the Holy Land, will be delighted by this informative more

Review quote

'The book is pure gold and - the acid test - can be read at one sitting. It will retain the reader's interest and generate smiles from beginning to end.' Sidney Lightman, Jewish Chronicle'show more

About Lewis Glinert

About the Author: Lewis Glinert was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford and lectures at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. He has also held appointments at the Israeli universities of Haifa and Bar-Ilan and a visiting associate professorship at the University of Chicago. The author of The Grammar of Modern Hebrew and editor of Hebrew in Ashkenaz: A Language in Exile, he has written and broadcast widely on the sociology and linguistics of Hebrew and Yiddish, including two BBC documentaries, "Tongue of Tongues" and "Golem."show more

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8 ratings
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