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I was raised as a Jewish identifying secular child, and it's only in my adolescence/adulthood I've really become at all observant. One of the problems is, of course, I've never had a Hebrew class! I'm somewhat tired of having to ask for a transliterated siddur when I go to any sort of services (and I'd like to be able to read the siddur I have at home, at some point!).

Where should I start? I don't even have the aleph-bet, so I know I'm really behind...

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related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8795/205 –  jutky May 31 '12 at 20:57
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The National Jewish Outreach Program offers free Hebrew classes in several cities designed to get people started. These are weekly classes for 5 or 6 weeks designed to teach you how to pronounce the words in front of you (so you can stop relying on transliteration) and some very basic vocabulary. I don't know where in Pennyslvania you live; they at least used to offer these classes in Pittsburgh about twice a year.

Some congregations offer classes in prayerbook Hebrew. These, too, are generally designed to teach reading skills, not the language itself. (That would require a much longer course. :-) )

When I was learning Hebrew as an adult, after taking the NJOP class I started just practicing during services. I'd read a word in the siddur, and maybe in that time the rest of the congregation would have read five words, but that was ok -- now I would recognize that word. Next time I could read it more quickly and move on to the next word to sound out. Iterate. It took a while and I'm still slow with seldom-used texts, but at least I'm advancing my skills doing this, while transliteration doesn't help me with the actual Hebrew.

Depending on where you live, you might also be able to take classes through Jewish adult-learning programs or universities. (Universtiy classes will be aimed at teaching comprehension, not just pronunciation, and will move at a pretty fast pace.)

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I recently found the Foreign Language Service's complete Hebrew 1965 course with audio online. It may be of use to you:

[FSI Hebrew]

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Hebrew State of Mind is an excellent blog that will help you learn Hebrew for free.

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