You are here

Summary & Useful words

Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. The sounds are similar, both read right-to-left, but if you look at the letters, the two languages appear quite different.  Hebrew uses block letters and Arabic uses script. 

It was less than a century and a half ago that Hebrew was still considered a language solely for prayer and completely obsolete on a day-to-day basis. The restoration of Hebrew was a vastly significant factor in the success of the Zionist dream. Updating a “dead” language was a task led virtually in its entirety by one man, Russian-born Eliezer ben Yehuda, and it is a story of extraordinary vision and drama. His biography, Tongue of the Prophets, by Robert St. John, is utterly fascinating and a perfect read for visitors to Israel.

All Israeli school children learn Hebrew, Arabic and English, and good English is spoken by virtually everyone in the country. Israel, a country peopled by many who have come from some 120 countries, is a multi-lingual country, with vast numbers of Israelis also speaking Russian, French, Spanish, Yiddish and tens of other tongues.

Almost every highway and street sign is in English as well as Hebrew (and Arabic), and English language newspapers, magazine and books are available everywhere.