Hebrew Talk: 101 Hebrew Roots and the Sto­ries They Tell

Joseph Lewin
  • Review
By – August 16, 2012
All Hebrew words have a three-con­so­nant root, a shore­sh. Vow­els and oth­er let­ters may be added to cre­ate oth­er words from this base. Joseph Lewin, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Cen­ter for the Hebrew Lan­guage, writes a col­umn about the Hebrew lan­guage for Hadas­sah Mag­a­zine. This book is the sec­ond (HebrewSpeak was the first) col­lec­tion of these columns. The book has 101 brief chap­ters, each devot­ed to one root. They are list­ed alpha­bet­i­cal­ly, begin­ning with alef bet dalet and end­ing with tav lamed heh. For each root, Lewin dis­cuss­es the words that come from it and explains their usage in both Bib­li­cal and mod­ern Hebrew. It is inter­est­ing to learn that alef het resh can become both the expres­sion of cour­tesy aharekha and aher, which denotes oth­er­ness and exclu­sion. It also has the tem­po­ral sense of after. This book is full of sim­i­lar fas­ci­nat­ing ety­mo­log­i­cal lore. It also has a brief sup­ple­men­tary read­ing list. This is an excel­lent choice for syn­a­gogue and school libraries that will inter­est all stu­dents of Hebrew.
Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

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