Posts Tagged ‘Western Wall’

Hebrew words for places around Jerusalem

The Hebrew language is not at all like English or any of the Romance languages, so if you’re caught in Jerusalem and hoping to tour around, you won’t be able to get by with your best accented versions of your native language. Of course English is well spoken by many Israelis, but if you’re unfortunate enough to run into the non-English speaking types, here are some words to help you get around:
  1. כותל, or “kotel,” is the Hebrew word for the Western Wall, the most venerable site in Judaism. The full phrase is כותל המערבי, or “kotel hamaaravi,” which includes the Western part, but it’s not necessary to use the second word, as everyone will know what you’re talking about if you ask for the kotel. In fact, if you know no other words and say “kotel?” with just the right questioning lilt, you’ll get pointed in the right direction. (Which means the average Israeli will tell you “go straight,” but that’s for another post…) This site sits adjacent to important spots that are holy to other religions as well, such as the Temple Mount, which houses Islam’s Dome of the Rock, and Christianity’s Via Dolorosa.
  2. The כנסת, “Knesset,” is the Israeli parliament which meets in Jerusalem. The words Knesset literally means assemble, and comes from the root כ נ ס, which means to gather.
  3. יד ושם, the museum dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust, translates as “A Hand and a Name,” which references a verse from the prophets: And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a “yad vashem”)… that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56: 5.)
With a few words in tow, you’ll be able to hit all these places and learn some Hebrew along the way – to get you to your next spot.


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