Learning Hebrew before converting to Judaism

If you are planning to convert, it is advisable to learn at least a little Hebrew.

September 22, 2019 12:35
1 minute read.
THE JERUSALEM conversion office of the Chief Rabbinate

THE JERUSALEM conversion office of the Chief Rabbinate. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Speaking, reading and/or writing Hebrew is not a mandatory condition when converting to Judaism.

Having said that, if you are planning to convert, it is advisable to learn at least a little Hebrew.


All the Jewish prayers are in Hebrew, and while you can find prayer books with transliterations of the texts, wouldn’t you feel better being able to read the original Hebrew texts? There is be a big difference between following the foreign letters that form sounds similar to the Hebrew, and reading the real original text.

Prayers are not the only Hebrew text that Jewish people read on a regular basis. What about the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, the Passover Haggada, Midrashim and all other Jewish texts that make up a big part of Jewish life?

Judaism is a parochial religion. People gather together in synagogues and temples to pray together as well as, engage in other religious activities and ceremonies. Learning Hebrew ahead of time can help you overcome any obstacles that the language barier might bring with it.
Knowing Hebrew can also be useful outside of the synagogue. Most people who convert to Judaism take a Hebrew name. Most Hebrew names are either proper nouns (for example: Shira, Hodaya, Ya’ir, Baruch) or names of biblical figures and important people in the Jewish tradition (for example: Ruth, Yael, Moses, David). When choosing a Hebrew name for yourself, you should understand the meaning and be able to spell it properly in the language it comes from.

Finally, we will mention the strong ties between the Jewish people from all over the world and the State of Israel. Hebrew is used throughout Israel and is the official language. When visiting Israel it is helpful to know a few words in Hebrew. Jewish people who visit holy places or are considering Aliyah should definitely know some Hebrew.


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