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.