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Hebrew Lesson Number 32:

In Honor of the Hanukkah

Chanuka is the Holiday of Lights. Let's join Eran Liat and Jonathan as they cook sufganyot and levivot while singing beautiful Holiday songs in Hebrew.

Introduction to Lesson 32:

In Honor of the Hanukkah

Learn Hebrew Pod - Lesson No. 32

Visit a Jewish preschool or kindergarten at any time of year, and ask a young child what the next holiday is.  The answer will always be the same . . .  Hanukkah!!


We are happy to report that today, that answer is nachon me-od.  What’s the next holiday??  Hanukkah!  Can’t you just see the candles burning brightly in the menorah?  Hear the music of Maoz Tzur?  Smell the latkes frying in all that oil?


Well, here at Learn Hebrew Pod, we actually can!  Jonathan is singing and playing Hanukkah music at the piano.  And Eran and Liat are busy in the kitchen cooking up some levivot and sufganyot.


So we’ll have the perfect chance to learn lots of Hebrew words related to cooking, recipes, and groceries.  We’ll learn a little bit about the rich traditions of Hanukkah.  And . . . how could we have a party without inviting our friends, the pa-al verbs?  It just wouldn’t be right . . . especially since the word Hannukah itself comes from a verb in the pa-al building block!

So gather your friends and family, light the candles, put some levivot on to fry, and join us for Learn Hebrew Pod’s special celebration!

Team Conversation from the Lesson:

Jonathan: (Plays 'Ma-oz Zzur' on the Piano)

Eran: Hey Liat!

Liat: (whispers) sshhh… hey Eran, listen, it's Jonathan, he's playing a Hanukkah song.

Eran: Oh, yes… that's… Ma-oz ZZur… mmm… he plays nicely.

Liat: Listen! hu gam shar - he is also singing… he has a good voice.

Eran: Oh… Jonathan’s mother is an Opera singer… let's listen…

!המוסיקה.... מדהימה

ma-oz zzur yeshu-ati, lecha na-e leshabe-e-ach,

tikon beyt tefilati, ve-sham toda nezabe-e-ach

le-et tachin matbe-ach mizzar ha-mnabe-e-ach,

az egmor be-shir mizmor

 (Eran and Liat join the singing)

chanukat ha-mizbe-e-ach

az egmor be-shir mizmor

chanukat ha-mizbe-e-ach

Jonathan: Hey chevreshalom guys! What a lovely surprise - eyzo hafta-a ne-imaThank you for joining me - toda she-hizztaraftem elay.

Eran: It's a pleasure Jonathan!

Liat: kamuvan Yonatan!

Eran: ze echad ha-dvarim ha-kefi-im be-chanuka - that's one of the fun things about Hanukkah, kol kach harbe shirim yafim - so many beautiful songs.

Liat: ken! And in so many styles - be-kol kach harbe signonot!

!כל כך הרבה סגנונות

Jonathan: nachon! This song for example, Ma-oz ZZurnichtav ba-me-a ha-shlosh-esre - was written in the thirteenth century. Its Hebrew is quite archaic; it's not the conversational Hebrew that we usually teach here….

Liat: aval ha-muzika – the music…

Eran: mad-hima!

Liat: mad-hima!

יונתן מנגן בפסנתר

Jonathan: (Plays again the last line and sings. Eran and Liat join him):

az egmor be-shir mizmor, chanukat ha-mizbe-e-ach.

Jonathan: In this line, we can hear the words chanukat ha-mizbe-ach, that's actually the name of the Holiday. Well, in English we say Hanukkah, but we have already  discussed this English tendency of changing Ch to H. Hanukkah is Chanuka.

Eran: bedi-yuk Yonatan! And it means inauguration.

Liat: Or dedication.

Joathan: walla! So historically, Hanukkah is the Holiday of the dedication of the altar at the Temple - beyt ha-miksash. That's what the name of the holiday literally means.

Eran: It's in the Pa-al building block, Jonathan, chanach – inaugurated or dedicated.

Liat: It's comprised from the root letters ChetNun and Chaf. Anyway Jonathan… let's have a fun lesson today – shi-ur kef ha-yomma ata omer?

Eran: ken! Let's have a lesson im muzika - with music.

Liat: ve… ochel - and food! Lots of food - hamon ochel.


מבשלים ביחד

Jonathan: Okay guys… rak shni-ya, I would love to play some music. And Hanukkah delicacies… well, who can object to that - mi yachol le-hitnaged le-ze… aval we do have to teach our students… kzzat Ivrit - some Hebrewnachon?


Some Grammar from This Lesson:

Guttural Letters

Liat: In our next lesson, we will learn that in the present tense, these verbs have different sets of conjugations! But from reading them in the English transliteration, we cannot tell by their third person conjugation in the past tense, to which group they belong, meaning what is their third root letter. In English they all end with the letter 'A' with the sound 'a'.

Eran: These differences need to be memorized along with the Hebrew translation of the word. Familiarizing yourself with how the word is written in Hebrew is a very helpful tool for this.

The Learn Hebrew Pod Reading Course

Liat: If you are not yet Hebrew readers, we highly recommend using our 'How to Read Hebrew- Introduction and Guidelines' audio/visual lessons.

Eran: And the 'Full Basic Course' under the Learn Tab on the Learn Hebrew Pod website.

הברות פתוחות והברות סגורות

Jonathan: As we saw in lesson 29, there are certain things we cannot do with guttural letters. The basic restriction is that we cannot produce a 'stop sign' on most of them. 

Let's explain again what a 'stop sign' means in our terminology by checking the 'natural letter' verb – 'katav' – wrote. Its root letters are KT & V – kaftaf, & vet.

Eran: In the singular past tense conjugation, this verb can be split into two syllables:

The first syllable is called an 'open syllable'. It ends with a vowel:


Liat: The second syllable is called a 'closed syllable'. It ends with the consonant V:


Jonathan: We refer to these consonant 'stops' as 'stop signs'. The 'stop sign' may appear at the end of a word or at the end of a 'closed syllable' in the middle of a word. We 'stop' or 'rest' on the consonant before proceeding to the next syllable or word. 

Eran: However, as we already know, this consonant rest cannot be performed on a letter like 'hey'.

 Liat: We can say: lamadkatavrakad, etc. but we cannot say: kanahrazzahasah

Jonathan: Today we will see that this restriction also applies to verbs that have 'ayin' or 'alef' as their third root letter.

Liat: For the 'ayin' group we cannot say:  yadaashamaanasaa.

Eran: For the 'alef' group we cannot say: mazzaakaraa.

Jonathan: In the singular past tense conjugation, all of the verbs which end with 'hey', 'alef' or 'ayin', sound as if they consist of only two letters.

Liat: Ending with 'hey':

asa - we can only hear the A and the Sa-sa.

kana - we can only hear the K and the Nka-na.

razza - we can only hear the R and the ZZra-zza.

ra-a - we can only hear the R and the Ara-a.

*Read and listen to the Full Hebrew Grammar Discussion - Join the Learn Hebrew Pod Intermediate Speaking Hebrew Program.