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How to Write the Hebrew Alphabet

Randi was born and raised in the US. At age 35. she became an Israeli citizen and she quickly became absorbed in the language and culture.

Hebrew alphabet, known as known as the "Alefbet"

Hebrew alphabet, known as known as the "Alefbet"

Origins of the Hebrew Alphabet

The earliest examples of written Hebrew date back to the 10th century BCE. After 200 CE, Hebrew was used mainly as Jewish liturgy. It made its comeback as a spoken language in the 19th century.

It is the native language to over five million people, mostly in Israel. The picture above shows the printed Hebrew alphabet, known as the Alefbet.

Facts About Hebrew Writing

Hebrew is written from right to left. It consists of 22 consonants. Vowels are added in after as accents to the letters. The print/block form of the writing is usually left for printing only or for people just learning Hebrew.

In Hebrew, that is called "Dfus." Once the alphabet has been learned, even small children switch to the rounded cursive lettering, called "Ktav." It is called the Alefbet because the first two letters are alef and bet.

More About the Hebrew Alphabet

While many people think that these are characters versus a letter, they are in fact letters. They do not have a meaning on their own, they simply represent a sound, just as the letters of the English alphabet do.

There are many letters/sounds that correspond with English and several sounds that are unique to Hebrew. As in English, the name of the letter is pretty much the same as the sound it makes. There are no capital letters in Hebrew but there are "final" letters. In Hebrew they are called "sofit" (so feet).

These are a few letters that change their form when they are placed at the end of a word. The five letters are: Khaf, mem, nun, peh and tzadi. They are pronounced the same whether a "sofit" or in the middle of the word so you only need to learn how to write and recognize them!

In ancient Hebrew, these long tail letters used to come at the beginning of the word. At some point while modern Hebrew was being formed, they were moved to the end of the word.

The Hebrew vowels

The Hebrew vowels

Vowels in Hebrew

The Hebrew alphabet is made up of consonants. People who are fluent in Hebrew do not need vowels and most written Hebrew does not have vowels. However, the need for pronunciation was strong enough that they come up with a system of dots, called Nikud (knee-cood), to indicate vowels.

Nikud means points. They are used for beginning learners and are often seen in the Bible and Torah. They are also be used when there may be need for further clarification.

Learning the Alefbet

In Israel, children learn to read and write in first grade, just like in the United States. Of course, there is some writing in pre-school, as well as TV shows that promote learning the alphabet.

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Read More From Owlcation

One of the more familiar TV shows is Shalom Sesame. It is the Israeli version of Sesame Street. It features Israeli and Palestinian counterparts to the American characters. It teaches the same morals and values and features both Hebrew and Arabic. Not only do the kids love it but adults can learn from watching it, too!

My English keyboard with Hebrew stickers.

My English keyboard with Hebrew stickers.

Downloadable Hebrew Programs

There are many different programs available to either teach, translate or give you the ability to type in Hebrew. If you want to type, you would either need to:

  • Get a Hebrew keyboard
  • Know which letters and symbols represent which letters and symbols you will need to type in Hebrew
  • Buy stickers for your current keyboard

Once you have that in place, you may need to download a program that will allow you to type in Hebrew. Many Mac and Microsoft computers already have that supported. You will just need to look for it either in your installation disk or under system preferences.

If you do not already have it on your computer, there are many different programs available and most of them are free.

What Have You Learned About Hebrew?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. In what direction is Hebrew written?
    • left to right
    • right to left
  2. Modern Hebrew is spoken predominately in what country?
    • Israel
    • Russia
  3. Once people are fluent in Hebrew, they write mostly in:
    • Cursive
    • Print
  4. The first written Hebrew has been dated back to:
    • The early 1900's
    • 10th century BCE

Answer Key

  1. right to left
  2. Israel
  3. Cursive
  4. 10th century BCE

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Randi Benlulu


Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on August 20, 2020:

Thank you, Samuel Binu Abraham! And you!

Samuel Binu Abraham on August 19, 2020:

Thank you Randi, Your effort made Hebrew learning joy.God bless you.

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on July 01, 2020:

Thank you, Yael! Todah!

Yael Meir on July 01, 2020:

Thank you, Randi!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on September 16, 2014:

Thank you, Audrey! I appreciate your stopping by! Yes, the order does matter!

Audrey Howitt from California on September 16, 2014:

What a fun hub! I love languages--and thank you for showing us the stroke order for the letters--it does make a difference I think

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on November 10, 2013:

Thank v you so much, Martie! You are absolutely correct. The "b" is bet or vet and the "p" is peh or feh. We had a lot of fun when they opened the first Office Depot store there. The Israelis called it oppice defot!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on November 10, 2013:

Very interesting article about the Hebrew alphabet. At a time - after reading "Exodus" by Leon Uris, I have done some research. I remember how interesting it was and how surprised I were to learn that the pronunciation of the letter 'B' is 'V', therefore it should not be "Abraham" but "Avraham". And now I am not so sure if I still have this right? I've 'studied' Israel's modern history round-about 1995. (If you don't use it, you lose it!)

Brilliant btrbell!

Congratulations with your 100 score!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 09, 2013:

Thank you so much, Jackie! I appreciate the share!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 09, 2013:

Wow this is so interesting and I am going to share it. Wish I had known this years ago when I was really would have loved the knowledge, too old now but still good to know! ^

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 07, 2013:

Thank you so much, Eddy! You have a great day, as well!

Eiddwen from Wales on October 07, 2013:

So very interesting Randi and thank you for sharing. Voted up and wishing you a great day.


Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 05, 2013:

Hi Frank! Easy, it definitely isn't! Thanks for stoppong by! :)

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on October 05, 2013:

easy is far from the word Im looking for but you make it look easy.. no not really.. but good info and good share :)

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 02, 2013:

Thanl you, drbj! Shalom!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 02, 2013:

Thank you, Benjamin! Your enthusiasm is so appreciated! I hope you continue to enjoy these hubs!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 01, 2013:

Fascinating explanation of the Hebrew alefbet, Randi. Thank you for your time and effort. Shalom.

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 01, 2013:

Thank you, FlourishAnyway! We lived in Israel for 12 years when my kids were small. I think I enjoyed Shalom Sesame more than they did!

Benjamin Chege on October 01, 2013:

Hi btrbell, you're such a good teacher I must say. I like your easy-to-understand guidelines on the Hebrew alphabets and I know with time I will d a good job on this. I think this hub will be my next foreign language lesson. Voted up, useful, awesome and beautiful. I have always found the Hebew and Arabic alphabets interesting and thanks to your hub I will learn one of them for free.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 01, 2013:

Very interesting. I like your tips on the Hebrew keyboard and stickers and enjoyed seeing both the photos of your Hebrew keyboard and the alphabet. I can just imagine watching Shalom Sesame!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 01, 2013:

Thank you so much, Nellieanna! I have already sent you a message on Facebook. The necklaces are lovely. I can understand why you would get so many complients. I will continue to check around but I think what I wrote is a reasonable explanation. Thank you so much for sharing that!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on October 01, 2013:

Thank you, Cam! You are so generous! It's nice to see you. I hope all is well!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on September 30, 2013:

Thank you, Faith! It is pretty tough, but, hey, you never know! :)

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on September 30, 2013:

Thank you, Abby! Much appreciated! You never know....I was 35 when I learned!

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on September 30, 2013:

Thank you so much, point2make! It's nice to see you again! :)

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on September 30, 2013:

Fascinating, Randi!! Truly! This is so exciting! You're certainly taking some of the mystery out of the Hebrew alphabet!

My sister brought me three necklace pendants of Hebrew letters from her trip to Israel about 30 years ago. She also gave me her handwritten explanation of their identification, but it's misplaced somewhere. They're really lovely shaped pewter forms, filled with what seems to be bright colored molten & set glass. One is royal blue, one is turquoise and one is brown. When I wear one, I get many inquiries about it & compliments on it.

I'm trying to identify them from your illustration of the Alefbet! I'm not sure whether my view of the pendants is right-side-up or upside-down, though! I see my last name, Hay, as the identity of one of the letters in your block print of the Alefbet and it looks very much like my brown pendant, and would explain why my sister chose that one for me. I think the blue one could be Kaf and the turquoise one could be Peh. Perhaps I'll snap a picture of them and message it to you on Facebook. Would you mind?

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on September 30, 2013:

Perfectly done, Randi. You have given us enough to keep our interest without going so far to discourage. Thanks for the tutorial. Now if I only had occasion to use it, I might take on this ancient language.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 30, 2013:

Wow, Randi, how interesting! Thanks for sharing. I'm afraid I could not learn it : ( too old, I guess. LOL


Faith Reaper

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on September 30, 2013:

Randi, the Hebrew language is so very interesting to me. I so want to spend some time someday learning this... that is, if I'm not too old to learn it. LOL. Thank you for a very interesting hub! :-)

point2make on September 30, 2013:

Another great lesson......well taught btrbell. Thanks for sharing and making some of the intricacies of the Hebrew alphabet a little more understandable.

Randi Benlulu (author) from Mesa, AZ on September 30, 2013:

Thank you, Bill! I'm not sure if that's good or

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 30, 2013:

That was a first. Almost two years here and I've never seen this info in a hub. Interesting stuff, Randi. Thank you for the education.

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