An American's dummy guide to living in Israel by Marla Topiol

Maase Olam

An American's dummy guide to living in Israel by Marla Topiol


What Happens When American Jews Move to Israel?


Stages of Learning Hebrew


1. Speaking to everyone in English-hoping for the best. 

When that doesn’t work…


2. Realizing the only Hebrew words that you may know are circa from your Bar or Bat Mitzvah. 

After realizing you cannot quote the Torah to get around…


3. You use your phone as your voice with the audio translation on Google translate, 

then hopefully….


4.You are able to take Ulpan classes, where you are promised that they will be able to teach you to speak Hebrew. 


And this is when…


 5) You begin to speak Hebrew-ish.





Defined as a fake language made up of 10 % Hebrew, 40 % English, and 50 % of looking like a crazy person


How To Spot Someone Speaking Hebrew-ish.


1. Flailing arms in the air, or rapidly moving in some direction




2. The only loud voice NOT in Hebrew

3. A borderline street performer, doing a mime act in order to ask for something or get their point across



4. The Israeli that they are talking to either looking amused or like they are going to slap the person


5. If all else fails-tears.






Marla is a Fellow of Ma'ase Olam's Masa Israel Teaching Fellow program. For more information about her experience and the program email