Get a handle on Hebrew with Web tutorials, translators

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It doesn't matter whether you're a student getting ready to return to school or you haven't practiced your Hebrew since your bar or bat mitzvah. The Internet provides incredible resources for people who want to improve their Hebrew. Today, we are going to look at some online resources for people with beginner and intermediate Hebrew skills. In the future, I'll look at free — and almost free — programs that you can download and run on your computer.

Whatever your level of Hebrew, your first stop should be at Yale University — www.library.yale.edu/

cataloging/hebraicateam/

index.htm The Yale Hebraica Team has done an outstanding job explaining the history of the language along with an introduction to the 22-letter alphabet. That Yale has such a good Hebrew Web site shouldn't come as a total surprise since the university required Hebrew as a basic curriculum course for freshmen in 1777. The essay "How Hebrew Came to Yale" explains the special relationship that Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal had on Yale's fifth president, the Rev. Ezra Stiles. To this day, the seal of Yale University carries the Hebrew words urim and tumim, the words on the high priest's breastplate, often translated as "light and "perfection." Read about the seal at www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/01_03/seal.html

Once you've mastered the alphabet and a few basic words, you're ready for the Starting with Aleph site at http://

ejemm.com/aleph

This delightful and sophisticated tutorial not only quizzes you about the spelling of some basic words, it also gives you an introduction to the mystical beauty of the Hebrew alphabet.

The National Center for the Hebrew Language — www.ivrit.org — is a U.S.-based organization whose motto is "Building Unity Among Jews Through Hebrew." The site offers a Word of the Day, a Word of the Week taken from that week's Torah portion, a literary corner and much more. And if you'd like to take your Hebrew to the next level, the site has an ulpan directory for Hebrew classes offered across the continent.

Do you already have a pretty good Hebrew vocabulary but find Israeli conversation moves along too quickly? Then let an Australian site slow down time for you, literally. The anonymous creator of the site has taken some Israeli dialogue and slowed it down in order to make it easier to follow. Some of it sounds a bit distorted but you'll get used to it after a few minutes. And then you'll feel proud that you were able to

follow along. It's at http://

foundationstone.com.au/

ListeningSkills.html

Aleph-Bet on the Web — http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/

~ylcflx/Aleph-Bet/index.html — is an excellent tutorial that tests your knowledge of Hebrew words and phrases. When you see Hebrew words flashed on the screen, you are asked to type in the English equivalent. And when English appears, so does an on-screen Hebrew keyboard so that you can type in the proper Hebrew response.

They may not rival standard dictionaries in book form but there are some pretty good dictionaries online. My Hebrew Dictionary — www.words.co.il — gives you the Hebrew equivalent to common English words. I had mixed results with the Milon Morfix dictionary — http://milon.morfix.co.il It worked quite well when I typed in English and it responded with a Hebrew translation. Things didn't always go smoothly when I tried typing into the on-screen Hebrew keyboard looking for the English equivalent. (Please note that this Web site requires Hebrew fonts in order to display properly.) For anyone who has gro