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Hebrew, Cultures and Religions

Office Admin : 19/08/2011 15:11 : Israel news

Hebrew, cultures and religions – How Buddhism fits in between?

Yoshiaki Tsuji, at Ulpan-Or

Learning Hebrew through the culture point of view, as we implement in our Hebrew classes in Ulpan-Or, usually brings out amazing outcomes. We got a good example for that from our friend and student – Yoshiaki Tsuji from Japan, or as we call him in Israel, Yossi. Yossi wrote a great speech about an Israeli culture experience, where he got asked about believes and tradition. He decided to write his graduation Hebrew speech about it, as you will read further ahead. So whether you are Christian, Jewish or Buddhist, take a few minutes to read Yossi’s Hebrew article about Buddhism, G-D and philosophy, and enjoy the way he used fantastic Hebrew words and Hebrew phrases as if he was a “Sabra”! Writing Hebrew and reading Hebrew is only a part of what our students practice in their Hebrew classes at our Jerusalem Ulpan, Tel Aviv Ulpan or Online Hebrew courses. At Ulpan-Or, we emphasis the crucial importance of speaking Hebrew as a basic component for gaining a real progress in Hebrew learning experience. This is why our students, like Yossi did, write their own Hebrew speech and then practice on reading out loud their Hebrew thoughts in the graduation ceremony at the end of the course. This way we get our students to build their confidence in Hebrew speaking in front of people, and when they finish the course, they are able to communicate with Israelis in their local language. Yossi, you did it big time! Mazal Tov, and enjoy Yossi’s speech:




נראה לי,למרבה המזל, רוב הישראלים מעוניינים ביפן, בייחוד בתרבות. אפילו כשפתחתי את החשבון הבנקאי, העובדת שאלה אותי פתאום. מה הבדל בין היהדות והבודהיזם? אף על פי שהשאלה די גדולה ויכול להיות שיקח כמה שנים כדי לענות, אני מנסה לתת כאן תשובה קצרה. קודם כל, צריך לדעת שעברו הרבה שנים מאז שנולד הבודוהיזם, והתקדם השתנה.עכשיו אני מתרכז בבודוהיזם יפני אחד, דווקא קבוצה מסיימת.הדבר החשוב ביותר הוא שאין אלוהים כמו ביהדות, בנצרות, ובאסלאם, למרות שיש “חוק” בבודוהיזם.אם כך, מי הוא בודה? בודה לא נביא, כיוון שהוא לא קיבל תורה מסיני, ולא מסר דברי אלוהים. משמעות המלה בודה “מי שידע” או “היודע” לבד, בלי עזרת אלוהים. תפיסת “בודה” השתנתה ומגוונת, בזמן האחרון, מהמאה החמישית, חשבו שיש הרבה “בודה”, ויש סוגים שנים של בודה, כאן הפך לסמל, שם הפך לחוק, ולפעמים לעולם עצמו.בנוגע לספרים, אין ספר כמו תנייך. יש ספרים שנחשבים חשובים אבל אין ספר משותף לכל הבודהיסטים.אני חושב שזאת הסיבה שיש הרבה םוגי בודהיזם.בקיצור, לדעתי, הבודהיזם היא לא דת כמו היהדות. היא דווקא דומה יותר לפילוסופיה ודרך מחשבה, שאפילו הופכת את כל תפיסת העולם והחיים לגמרי. יוסי מיפן

It seems to me, luckily, that most Israelis are interested in Japan, mainly in the culture. Even when I opened a bank account, the teller asked me suddenly: what’s the difference between Judaism and Buddhism?
Even though it’s a pretty big question and it may take several years to answer, I’ll try to give a short answer here. First of all, you should know that it’s been many years since Buddhism was born, and it has progressed and changed. Now I focus on one kind of Japanese Buddhism, just one particular group. The most important thing is that there is no god like in Judaism, in Christianity and in Islam, even though Buddhism has “a law”. So, who is Buddha? Buddha isn’t a prophet, because he didn’t receive “Torah from Sinay”, and didn’t pass on the words of god. The meaning of the word ‘Buddha’ is “he who knew” or “the knower” on his own, without the help of god. The perception of Buddha has changed and it is diverse. Since the 5th century, they have believed that there are many Buddhas, and there are different kinds of Buddhas: in one place he became a symbol, in another he became a law, and sometimes the world itself. Regarding scripture, there is no book like the bible. There are books that are regarded as important but there is no book common to all Buddhists. I think that this is why there are many kinds of Buddhism. All in all, I think that Buddhism is not a religion like Judaism. It’s actually more like a philosophy and a way of thought, which transforms your whole viewpoint and life upside down.
Yossi from Japan


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The Days of Distress

Office Admin : 08/08/2011 19:50 : Israel news

We are now going through the 21 days of what is called in Hebrew “Yamey Bein HaMetzarim” – Days of Distress. These 21 days refer to the period of time that passed between the breaking through the wall of Jerusalem on the 17th of Tamuz and the destruction of both Temples on the 9th of Av, which occurs this year next Tuesday.



The verse in Lamentations 1:3 states:

Judah has gone into exile because of suffering and harsh toil. She dwelled among the nations but found no rest; all her pursuers overtook her in the narrow straits

[in Hebrew, ‘bein hametzarim‘].

Rashi points out that the term “bein hametzarim” can be also translated as “between the days of distress”.

Last week we read the weekly Torah portion “Mas’ey” which tells about 42 journeys and their stops (camping places) of the People of Israel in the desert before they reached the Land of Israel.

According to our sages these 42 stops represent rectifications that People of Israel must go through before reaching final redemption.

These stops actually correlate to this period of 21 days and 21 nights (together – 42).

During the period of the 21 days ofBein HaMetzarim we tend to indulge in anguish and sorrow over the destruction of the Temples.


However, there is another side to this coin. According to our sages the same 21 days correlate to the number of the days of rejoicing in the Jewish calendar:

Pesach – 7 days, Shavuot – 1 Day, Sukkot – 7 days, Shmini Atzeret – 1 day, Rosh Hashana – 2 days, Yom Kippur – 1 day, Rosh Chodesh – 1 day,
Shabbat – 1 day. Altogether – 21 days.

Thus the period of these 21 days is the time when one can draw inner strength and fill his / her spirit with fate and hope…

Our sages tell us that the day of Tish’a Be’Av will eventually turn into a day of thanks and rejoicing.

The Talmud tells us about Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi who wanted to uproot Tish’a Be’Av if it fell out on Shabbat, (Megilla 5b).
The Seer of Lublin explains the intention of Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi in a very interesting way: “When Rebbe wanted to uproot [in Hebrew, “la’akor“] Tisha B’Av, he wanted to make it theforemost [in Hebrew, “ha’ikar“, spelled with the same root letters as “la’akor”] amongst all the holidays of the year.

“On Tisha B’Av, although we are full with sadness and pain, because of that sadness and pain we actually pray with more intention and yearn more deeply for the restoration of our nation and our final redemption.

And we hope that Tish’a Be’Av soon will turn into a day of thanks and rejoicing.


Yoel & Orly


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My Hebrew Experience with Ulpan-or

Office Admin : 01/08/2011 13:45 : Israel news

My Hebrew Experience with Ulpan-or – Sam’s Graduation Hebrew Speech

We got permission from Sam Blumberg, one of our dear students at Ulpan-Or, to share with you his graduation speech, that he wrote in Hebrew, on our blog page! Speech?! Yes! Each student at Ulpan-Or, even those that initially don’t know how to speak Hebrew or write in Hebrew, writes a speech in Hebrew and reads it out loud at the end of their first week of studies. We are so excited every week to see our students finish their Hebrew course and read lovely speeches in Hebrew, with new expressions and Hebrew words that they have just learned. This graduation ceremony is now an old tradition at Ulpan-Or, both in our Jerusalem Ulpan and in Tel Aviv Ulpan too. Remember, in language learning , the platform is of the student and in order to progress in vocabulary words and achieve spoken Hebrew, the student needs to work, practice and continue to listen and speak Hebrew!

So here is Sam’s original speech (English translation – below):

כל בוקר אני מתעורר בעליזות עם הידע שאני הולך לאולפן לראות את כל החברים שלי. אני רץ ל”מפקדה” ועומד בתור למלא את הבקבוק שלי. אני מסביר פנים לכל ההריוניות ומתחיל ללמוד. בדרך כלל אני משקיע את החצי שעה שלי בחדר הגדול, אם כי אני מעדיף להתחיל במשרד. אחרי חצי שעה של הכרת מילים חדשות (כלומר, חברים חדשים ), אני סוף- סוף פוגש את החברים הישנים שלי- יהורם, צביקה וכל הפמליה ב”קרובים-קרובים” (סדרת טלוויזיה ישראלית שהייתה חלק מהקורס שלי).

אני מתמודד עם התרגילים הקשים בבחינות הישנות מהאוניברסיטה העברית הואיל ואני מעוניין בבחינת הפטור. למרות שהעבודה היא ממש מתסכלת היא תשתלם בסופו של דבר. כל היום, הדס מעודדת אותי עם חיוך חמים ונמשים מנצנצים. אחרי יום מלא של פועל, סמיכות כפולה ועוד, אני הולך הביתה עייף וגאה, כדי לאכול ארוחת צהריים, לנמנם ולהתייצב מול שיעורי הבית שלי.


Each morning I wake up happily with the knowledge that I am going to Ulpan-Or to see all of my friends. I run to the “headquarters” and stand in line to fill up my bottle. I greet all the pregnant ladies and begin to study. Usually, I spend my first half-hour in the big room, even though I prefer to start in the office. After a half-hour of getting to know new words (that is to say, new friends), I finally meet my old friends– Yehoram, Tzvika, and the whole entourage in “Krovim Krovim” (Old Israeli TV series that was used in my course).


I cope with the difficult exercises on the old tests from the Hebrew University, since I am interested in the “Ptor” exam. Even though the work is very frustrating, it will pay off in the end. All day, my teacher Hadas encourages me with a warm smile and glistening freckles. After a full day of verbs, Smichut Kefula and more, I walk home, tired and proud, in order to eat lunch, nap, and stand up to my homework.

OK, that was the speech Sam read a week before he actually finished his course. Now watch how Sam sounded on his last day at Ulpan-Or, reading his goodbye speech.

You did great Sam!

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How to survive your visit at Mahane Yehuda Market – Learn Hebrew Tips

Office Admin : 21/07/2011 07:03 : Israel news

Planning to visit The Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem? You might want to read this blog post and learn some cool tips on

how and what to do in order to enjoy (and survive) this experience. Our student at Ulpan-Or, Daniel Weinberg, summarized for you his insights from his own experience as a student and as a neighbor living across the market. Machane Yehuda market is the liveliest and most interesting market you can find in Jerusalem and some say in all of Israel! You will hear Modern Hebrew and Traditional Hebrew, where many slang words and expressions of the Hebrew language were born. Read how Daniel wrote originally in Hebrew during his course and to our request translated it to English too.



זה מה שאנשים יגידו לכם בדרכם לשוק. אבל אני כאן היום כדי לתת לכם כמה רעיונות, על קצה המזלג, כדי שתיהיה לכם חוויה טובה.

חוק ראשון: אל תקנו בלי לטעום. למעשה, אסור לקנות בלי לטעום. ההיפך הוא לא נכון – מותר לכם לטעום בלי לקנות

שנית: בשוק העיראקי אין פירות יותר טובים ואין מחירים נמוכים יותר מבשאר השוק.

שלישית: אל תביאו יותר כסף ממה שאתם רוצים להוציא.

רביעית: אם אתם מסיימים תוך פחות משעה, כרטיס האוטובוס שלכם עדיין יהיה בתוקף.

חמישי: אם אתה לא בטוח במחיר, תמיד תבקשו כמה שאתם רוצים בשקלים (מינוס 5 שקלים – כי בעלי החנויות תמיד ייתנו לכם יותר ממה שביקשתם). לדוגמה: תבקשו 15 שקל של שקדים, במקום קילו וחצי. ככה אתם לא תהיו מופתעים.

השישי: תכירו את בעלי החנות שלכם. תחזרו לאותו מקום כל יום, תקראו לבעלי החנויות בשמם.

שביעי: בשוק, “סליחה” פירושה “זוז כבר”



That’s what people will tell you on their way to market. But I’m here

today to give you some ideas, in a nutshell, you have to Have a good


First rule: Do not buy without tasting. In fact, you can not buy without

tasting. The opposite is not true – you can taste without buying

Second: In the Iraqi shuk, the fruit is not better, and the prices are

not lower, than in the rest of the market.

Third: Do not bring more money than you want to spend.

Fourth: If you finish in less than an hour, your (Egged) bus ticket will

still be valid.

Thursday: If you are not sure of the price, always ask how much you want

in shekels (minus 5 shekels – store owners always give you more than

what you asked.) For example: Ask for 15 shekels of almonds instead of

pounds. That way you will not be surprised.

Friday: Get to know your merchants. Go back to the same place every day,

and call shop owners by their name.

Seven: At the Shuk “Slichah” means “Move, already”



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Learning Hebrew Can Be Fast and Enjoyable

Office Admin : 20/06/2011 07:57 : Israel news

Ambassadors to Israel from all over the world filled the new auditorium at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv last Thursday to participate in a special “Hebrew Taster and Israeli Culture” event hosted by Ulpan-Or and The Ambassadors’ Club. This event, the first of its kind for Ambassadors gave the diplomats a unique opportunity to actively engage in speaking Hebrew with Ulpan-Or’s revolutionary RLA (Rapid Language Acquisition) method and experience Israeli culture with wine tasting from Recanati winery, and cheese tasting by Jacob’s dairy company.

After just one hour of experiencing Hebrew, the diplomats were able to engage in a simple conversation in Hebrew, ask for directions, order wine and cheese and even perform in a few dialogues in front of the distinguished audience.

On one hand the Ambassadors learned how to officially present themselves in Hebrew and how loosen up and use some slang words such as “SABABA ” סבבה “Cool” on the other. It was our tremendous pleasure at Ulpan-Or to jointly host this event with the Ambassadors’ club, headed by Mr. Yitzhak Eldan. This “Hebrew Taster” event for world Ambassadors to Israel has provided a great opportunity for us at Ulpan-Or in fulfilling our mission of being the Ambassadors of Hebrew to the world.

Orly & Yoel

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Celebrating the Jerusalem Day

Office Admin : 31/05/2011 06:16 : Israel news

Next Wednesday we will be celebrating “Jerusalem Day”.

Here are a few facts and the background associated with this very special event.

Jerusalem Day is a national holiday marking the liberation of the city and its reunification after the Six Day war.

The day is held on the 28th of the month of Iyar (usually from mid-May to the end of the month,) the day Israeli soldiers liberated the eastern part of the city in 1967.

Jerusalem was divided from the War of Independence in 1948 until 1967. The western part of the city was in Israeli hands, and the eastern part – excluding an Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus – was under the control of the Jordanian kingdom.

After the eastern part of the city was liberated, the walls dividing the city were torn down and three weeks later the Knesset enacted legislation unifying the city and extending Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part.

The day marking this event was decided upon one year later to celebrate the unification of the city and the Jewish peoples’ connection with Jerusalem throughout the ages.

Let’s take a look how our sages relate to verses in “Song of Songs” to the Western Wall.


“The voice of my Beloved! Behold it came suddenly to redeem me, as if leaping over mountains, skipping over hills. In His swiftness to redeem me, my Beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart. I thought I would be forever alone. But behold! He stands behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices.” (Song of Songs 2:8-9)

The Midrash says:

“Behold ― He stands behind our wall” ― this refers to the Western Wall of the Temple. Why so? Because God has sworn that it will never be destroyed. (Midrash Rabba, Song of Songs 2:4)


Rabbi Eliezer said: The Divine Presence never departed from the Temple, as it is written, ‘For now I have chosen and sanctified this house so that My name shall be there forever and My eyes and My heart will be there all the days’ (II Chronicles 7:16)… Even when [the Temple] is destroyed, it remains in its sanctity… Even when it is destroyed, God does not leave it.

Rebbe Acha said: Divine Presence will never depart from the Western Wall, as it is written, “Behold ― He stands behind our wall” (Midrash Rabba, Exodus 2:2)

When Vespasian had subdued the city, he assigned the destruction of the four ramparts to the four generals.

The Western Wall was allotted to Pangar. Now it had been decreed by Heaven that this should never be destroyed because the Divine Presence dwells in the west. The others demolished their sections, but Pangar did not demolish his.

Vespasian sent for him and asked, “Why did you not destroy your section?”

He replied, “By your life, I acted so for the honor of your empire; for if I had demolished it, nobody would know (in the time to come) what it was you destroyed; but when people look at the Western Wall, they will exclaim, ‘Behold the might of Vespasian from what he didn’t destroy!'”
(Midrash Rabba, Lamentations 1:31)

During the 2,000 years of the Jewish exile many wars have been fought over Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt no less than 9 times.

But through the centuries, one symbol has miraculously remained intact – the Western Wall הכותל המערבי.
It represents the indestructibility of the Jewish people.

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Yom HaShoah 2011/5771

Office Admin : 01/05/2011 07:35 : Israel news

Yom HaShoahToday at sundown begins יום השואה (Yom HaShoah), Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. In honor of the day, we have created an eBooklet that includes articles, songs, and discussions. To access the eBooklet follow this link: To access the accompanying audio follow this link:

Here in Israel, there will be a state ceremony at Yad Vashem tonight, and sirens will blare at 10 a.m. tomorrow for two minutes. At this time, nearly everyone in the country stops, stands, and remains still. All cars stop on the highway as well. Throughout the day, places of public entertainment are closed by law. Israeli television airs Holocaust documentaries and talk shows.

In remembrance, we hope you will find the eBooklet meaningful.

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