English Hebrew by Subject by Hanna G. Perez is the newest tool for immigrants, tourists, students, or anyone who struggles with switching between English and Hebrew. It’s a dictionary, but instead of listing words alphabetically it groups them by context.
English Hebrew by Subject starts off, appropriately enough, with polite phrases. “Good Yom Tov” struck me at first as an odd translation for chag sameach but it works most of the time, Yom Haatzmaut notwithstanding. “Merry Christmas” gets its own entry. You’ll also find “Ahlan,” the Arabic word for hello, along with other slang.
Only one translation is are given for each word unless necessary, like the different Hebrew words for putting on various articles of clothing e.g. leegrov (socks) and laanod (jewelry or a tie).
Subjects include food and drink, clothing, medicine, law, postal services, religion, the army, science, arts, math, and good qualities and vices. You’ll also find basic lists like colors, numbers, countries, languages, sports and more. Browsing, I noticed these terms: Reality show (tochnit reality/metziut), amateur (hovevani), handlebars (kidon), hemorrhage (shetef dam), party chairman (yoshev/yoshevet rosh maflegah), curfew (otzer), and hummus/houmous (chumus). Note to the editors: You forgot to include oatmeal.
English Hebrew by Subject contains an introduction, table of contents, subject index including subheadings, and a grammar review for each language. The 12-hour CD that comes with the book helps review vocabulary and check pronunciation, since the entries in the print edition are not transliterated.
The lack of alphabetization means there is no way to look up a word unless you know the context—a complete index of terms would come in handy. Also, while chapters have multiple subheadings by context and parts of speech, it can still take more time to find a term than in a standard dictionary.
As a new immigrant, I would have found English Hebrew by Subject extremely handy for trips to the bank, store or school. Heavier and wider than a standard dictionary, you could tuck it (or the CD) into a tote for a day of errands. It’s a sturdy, attractive book, easy to hold and has clear, easy-to-read typeface even if you are middle-aged.
You can download a sample chapter at the publisher’s website.