Learning a new alphabet can be challenging for anyone. Especially for those who want to know how to read Hebrew online. This is particularly true for someone who has had no exposure to that particular alphabet. Let us consider the languages that are most used across the world. The majority of people in the world use the Latin alphabet (2.6 billion people or 36%). Whilst many others use the Chinese script (1.3 billion people or 18%), and the list goes on.
How to read Hebrew online
Notice that Hebrew does feature in this list. Only a very small percentage of the world’s population speaks this language. Approximately 9 million people read and speak Hebrew. It is not achieve the rank of a mainstream language. Thus, few people have had exposure to the Hebrew language unless a person grows up with the Hebrew text (i.e. in the synagogue) or in Israel.
But, despite this lack of exposure to the biblical Hebrew letters, many people want to learn this ancient language. It is these people who ask how to read Hebrew online. Online learning provides people with a perfect opportunity to learn a language that may otherwise be out of their reach. It is a perfect opportunity to learn the alphabet (or, in Hebrew, the aleph bet).
Why do people want to learn Hebrew?
Globally, people want to learn Hebrew for a variety of reasons. Some may want to learn to read the biblical Hebrew letters to be able to read the Hebrew bible in the original text. Others may be undertaking a conversion program and need to learn to read Hebrew. These skills are necessary to be able to convert to Judaism successfully.
Others may need to learn Hebrew because they are studying for their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. Others may plan to travel to Israel, either for a holiday or to live there permanently. Yet, they all have something in common. They all need to learn Hebrew. For some people, learning online is the easiest and simplest method to achieve their goals.
Which is easier – biblical or modern Hebrew?
Many people want to want to know if it is easier to learn biblical or modern Hebrew. Let us address the first question. I find this a fascinating discussion. Many people say that modern Hebrew is easier to learn than biblical Hebrew. To embrace this discussion, I will briefly examine the long history behind the Hebrew language.
For centuries, Hebrew was widely used as a spoken and written language 3000 years ago. But, the demise of spoken Hebrew started with the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Indeed, by 135 CE, after the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans failed, it completely disappeared.
It was after the Bar Kokhba revolt that the Roman emperor Hadrian killed, expelled or enslaved most of Israel’s remaining Jews. These were the last remaining Hebrew speakers. Nonetheless, it remained a literary language used for studying the biblical Hebrew texts. A few people scattered around the world still spoke or wrote in Hebrew, but they were few and far between.
The rise and rise of modern Hebrew
However, fast-forward two thousand years to Europe. In 1878, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda saw the resurgence of the revivalist Jewish movement in Eastern Europe. And once he moved to Jerusalem, he and his wife made the decision only to speak Hebrew. In fact, their son was the first native Hebrew speaker in 2000 years! Ben Yehuda started compiling the first modern Hebrew dictionary.
Before long, Hebrew was thriving as a spoken and written language. Modern Hebrew and biblical Hebrew are quite different, but they still have similar origins. Mirit Bessire, Hebrew language program director at Johns Hopkins University, has stated that “King David and I could probably understand each other”. Ms Bessire states that it is like that of modern English and Shakespearean English.
Deciding which option – How to read Hebrew online or face-to-face
The first decision you need to make is whether you want to learn modern or biblical Hebrew. Once you have made that decision about the style, the next decision is to decide whether you want to learn how to read Hebrew online or face-to-face.
There are pros and cons to both options. One barrier to attending face-to-face classes may be that a person who does not live in an area where Hebrew classes are held. Or he or she does not have access to transport or is too busy to attend classes. In these instances, the online opportunity is a fantastic option. If you cannot find someone to teach Hebrew online, then purchasing an online program such as Easy Learn Hebrew is a great way to get started.
The positive aspects of learning Hebrew online!
Learning how to read Hebrew online has so many positive aspects to it. It allows the student to study wherever and whenever he or she wants to, without being tied down to a fixed location or a fixed schedule, meaning inclement weather is no longer an excuse! It also provides the opportunity to practice sounding out the words without being embarrassed to make mistakes, making it easy!
But online learning is only for some people; it certainly requires some discipline. Some people prefer to have a fixed schedule and be held accountable by their teacher and their classmates. They also prefer to have someone listen to them. It really is horses for courses. What works for one person will not work for someone else, as we are all different. If you want to know how to read Hebrew online then follow that path.
Hebrew vocabulary and verbs
Whatever mechanism you choose, it is important that you build up your Hebrew vocabulary and verbs. It will make understanding the text more accessible, and if you want to start speaking Hebrew, it is an excellent segue into that area. All you need to do is identify your reason and the way you want to learn – if you want to know how to read Hebrew online or to learn the language face-to-face.
Once those two areas have been identified and you have the enthusiasm to learn, the rest will fall into place. Just make sure you keep your goal at the forefront of your mind.