Review: English Hebrew by Subject

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.

More posts on Aliyah from A Mother in Israel


  1. When I first made Aliyah and was learning the language I remember jotting down words I might need for that day, before I left the house but my friends who made Aliyah recently find that with smart-phones and constant connection to the net there is less of a need for “dictionaries” like this but I would think as an app for a smart-phone it can be extremely useful for many.


    • Thanks for your posting about our book. I hope you won’t mind if as the publisher I respond to this 🙂

      I would like to mention the unique benefits that the book has that other dictionaries don’t have.

      Firstly, EHBS is a learning tool, making it easy for people to learn and retain the vocabulary they need, and thereby improve their self-expression in every subject (e.g. before a doctor’s appointment, job interview, sending a parcel, etc).

      It is the only dictionary that comes with a 12 hour audio CD, an easy and efficient way to learn new words and say them correctly from the start.

      Finally (although I could contiune……) it also helps people to know that they have the right meaning, as it gives only one or two options per term, in context, and with explanations where necessary.

      I do appreciate your comment on the smart phone app, and it is something we are looking into.


  2. Check out the American-English editor. 🙂

  3. Good things I didn’t find any mistakes. . .