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Aleph Isn't Tough: An Introduction to Hebrew for Adults 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807407264
ISBN-10: 0807407267
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Linda Motzkin Linda Motzkin received her M.A.H.L. and rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR. She is a co-rabbi, together with her husband Jonathan Rubenstein, of Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs, New York, as well as the Jewish chaplain at Skidmore College. She is the author of the Hebrew for Adults Series and numerous other publications.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 57 pages
  • Publisher: Behrman House (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807407267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807407264
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Most grammars give the alphabet a chapter or two and expect the student to swallow it whole - Rabbi Motzkin takes the Hebrew alphabet and teaches it in digestible bites. The alphabet is taught in its natural context - Jewish worship and beliefs, a few letters at a time and with plenty of background material to cement the letters and sounds into the student's mind. Writing is taught along with the letters.
Directed specifically those who want to learn Hebrew in worship, this work is invaluable to anyone - Christian or Jewish - who wants to study the Bible in its original text.
The second book is due to come out in 2001 - Watch for it!
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I found this book to be very clear, with useful exercises in reading and writing Hebrew. The letters are not taught in alphabetic order, but rather in logical groupings that are often used together in words. The vowels are added one or two at a time, and though I felt challenged, I was not overwhelmed. I found it fun, and even reading right to left seemed natural as I became familiar with how the consonants and vowels related to each other.
Besides teaching the sounds of the letters, there are sections on Hebrew word roots, which I found immensely helpful in understanding some of the thinking and spirit in the language. I felt as if I'd been given a key into a whole new way of thinking. For example, there are names of G-d that relate to certain root words in ways that are surprising and wonderful, and there are foods we eat on High Holidays because they are a "pun" on another word that is a spiritual quality we ask for in the new year. The extra dimension this book adds beyond mere pronunciation is its real gift.
I recommend this book to adults with an interest in exploring Hebrew. After just a month, I was able to read (slowly) from the prayer book, and find myself asking questions that I would not have thought of had I only known the English translation.
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I liked this primer much better than 'Learn Hebrew Tody, Alef-Bet for Adults'. It offered better exercises, clearer pronunciation guides and more in-depth grammatical explanations. An excellent first choice for the adult beginner.
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I attended Hebrew school 3 times a week for 6 years until my Bar Mitzvah in 1966). When I quit, I could read Hebrew but understood little or nothing about what I was reading and do not recall any lessons in the structure of the language or its syntax. When we joined a synagogue a couple of years ago, I could still sort of read a little, but had forgotten a few letters which made my ability to read pretty much useless. But I digress.

Aleph Isn't Tough goes through the entire Hebrew alephbet, teaches pronunciation of all the characters, demonstrates many word roots and their modifications that form related words (all with translations, of course), teaches the distinction between a main character and its altered form when used at the end of a word (e.g., mem vs. mem sofit or final mem) and teaches all the vowel sounds. And also teaches a number of exceptions to pronunciation and spelling that I am quite certain I never learned in those 6 years spent all those decades ago. This is a lot for a beginner book, but that is unquestionably what this is.

As the title of the review indicates, this book (first in a series of at least 3 that I know of) is NOT intended to teach modern conversational Hebrew. Rather, it provides an introduction to reading the Hebrew of the Torah and that of the doxology found in all modern siddurs (Prayerbooks). This first volume uses as its basis the Shabbat service. The words that one learns and the sentence fragments and sentences are all part of the Shabbat service. So the book does double duty as an introduction to the Hebrew language as well as an introduction to many of the most important phrases of the Shabbat prayers.
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If like me you are wanting to teach yourself Hebrew this book is an excellent resource for doing so. As one other reviewer rightly commented it breaks the Hebrew alphabet down into smaller portions and thus makes it easier to memorize. Another plus is that writing of the letters is taught along with their pronunciation. One of the best things was the help in pronouncing the letters correctly. The information on roots made the learning of Biblical Hebrew a much less daunting prospect for me. Of all the Hebrew teaching tools I've come across so far, this one is my favorite.
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This is a pretty good book for an introductory Hebrew class. It provides a mixture of basic Hebrew and siddur Hebrew, introducing many word roots used in the prayer book. This satisfies the requirements of the average Hebraically functionally illiterate American Jew who has only a marginal interest in actually mastering Hebrew, but would like to be able to pronounce and "follow along" during Sabbath prayer services. Definitely not the only book one would need to know Hebrew. No grammar or linguistic niceties, simply a book to help you have some ability to know where you are in the prayer book. I am not sure I would recommend this as a beginning book for someone who is serious about learning Hebrew. It is more of a thing unto itself, not necessarily providing a grounding for further study.
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