Top Ten Hebrew Words to Know When Traveling to Israel

When in Israel, there is nothing like connecting with the locals to get a sense of the country. The best way to connect is to learn the language and try to put it to good use. 

This time instead of making a list of a bunch of formal words and phrases we decided to list common urban language terms that are used often and by everyone. Not sure these are what Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the founder of Modern Hebrew, had in mind when reviving the language but we are sure they’ll help you be understood.

Yalla (ya-lla) a term used often used to mean ‘come on’ and ‘hurry up’. This term originated from Arabic. “Yalla, are you coming? We are going to be late …”

Ma Nishma (ma-neesh-ma) The literal translation is ‘How are you?’ but often used just as an opening like ‘what’s happening’ when people meet. “Ahalan, Ma Nishma?! So glad we are finally checking out the new falafel place in Dizengoff”

Ma kore (ma-ko-re) ‘What’s happening’. Similar to Ma Nishma, this short phrase can be used to ask someone how they are or just as an opening to hurry up. “Ma Kore? Are you going to keep me waiting while you check out all the cute guys at the beach?”

Nira Lecha (nee-r-a-Le-Cha) ‘Seriously?!’ An expression of awe and surprise in response to something unfavorable. Usually as part of a rhetorical question. “Nira Lecha that you are going to finish the Bamba bag all by yourself!?”

Magneev (ma-g-neev)  ‘Cool’ A response to something that you are happy about. “Oh, you got us two tickets to Ivri Leader?! Magneev!”

Nu (noo) ‘Well?!’ A word expressing encouragement to continue. “Nu …can you finally finish your story about that time you went swimming with dolphins in Eilat?”

Walla (wa-lla) It expresses interest and surprise. “Walla! so you found a two-bedroom apartment in Tel Aviv for 100$ a month!”

Gadol (ga-dol) ‘Great!’ ‘Awesome!’ ‘Amazing!’ an exclamation of something that’s really great. “Gadol!!! It took me only 24 minutes to find a parking spot in Tel Aviv”

Baasa (ba-a-sa) ‘This sucks’. A word expressing serious disappointment. “What baasa, I just dripped all this Hummus on my flip flops. I’ll have Hummus smelling feet all day AND less hummus to eat right now…”

Zoola (zoo-la) A state of mind or location of fun and relaxation. “What Zoola! friends, beer and the beach” or “Let’s go hang out at the zoola corner and watch Maccabi beat Hapoel”

So, Yalla! Head out and practice these words, don’t be shy, the Israeli streets are the perfect place to be bold.