Israeli Pet Peeve #476: The Hebrew Contest.

This featured pet peeve isn’t limited to being just an Israeli edition; it’s an oleh chadash pet peeve as well and it’s one of my most hated ones of all time. So get ready.

I, by nature, am not a competitive person. I think when I was younger I did have a strong competitive streak and then when I saw other people being competitive, I got turned off, shut it down and never looked back. I just don’t see the reason to get worked up about winning a game. I also don’t like accomplishing things just to win a prize.

Which is why I hate The Hebrew Contest. It goes like this:

Scenario #1: A bunch of olim chadashim are hanging out. One of them invites their Israeli friend. Everyone enters a bid to be the best at speaking Hebrew; to have the best faux accent; to sound like they’ve been here the longest. And everyone sounds ridiculously stupid and sad. And the Israeli is just rolling his eyes, even if they can’t see it. The worst part is, the Israeli has Anglo parents.

Scenario #2: An oleh chadash is hanging out with a bunch of Israelis. He is speaking in his best Hebrew and keeping up with the crew. Yet, despite this, the Israelis insist on speaking in stupid, broken English.

Scenario #3: A bunch of Anglos are hanging out. There are no Israelis in sight. Not a one. The Anglos take turns inserting Hebrew words into their sentences for no apparent reason. “That’s so, like, matiim.” “He’s being so dafka.”

Whether it’s an Israeli or oleh chadash, I don’t care. The point here is not to show off. It’s to communicate. I’m not saying Israelis shouldn’t practice their English; but when we’re in Hebrew land, let’s help the oleh speak the native language. I’m not saying olim shouldn’t speak Hebrew; but please don’t attempt rolling r’s or deep ayins or trying too hard in general.

I understand that when you first get here, you do get this weird language mix up and confuse your tongues. And I also understand that after a while, you forget words in English and so you use the Hebrew one. But let’s not be… dafka, ok?

Let’s be natural. Let’s go with the flow. There is no cash prize for sounding like an idiot.






  1. ilan Avatar

    But what if mixing languages is going with the flow, feels natural, and gets your meaning across just fine? I always thought that the quirky Hebrew-spiced English spoken by Anglo olim was cute, when it’s not an affectation.

  2. eliesheva Avatar

    I hear it so often as being put-on. It drives me nuts, like silverware against a metal pot.

    Sometimes I do it too and then it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

  3. Katherine Avatar

    Oh I could not agree with you more about this. it is put on a lot of the time, although I do agree often I can’t find the english word any more. but I don’t on purpose put hebrew words into my english – that is dumb!

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