Hu Medaber Ivrit – The Kid Speaks Hebrew

Last Updated on Monday, 24 June 2013 01:13 Written by bryfy Monday, 24 June 2013 01:13


I want to tell you a bit about my 4 year old son, Jonah, or as he is more formally known, Jonah Mark Bryfman.

Jonah is an energetic some might say rambunctious kid. He is also really funny. He is smart, playful and a kid who loves to share. He hates going to sleep because he loves spending time with his mummy and daddy, having them read to him, watching tv with them, and mainly just not going to sleep.

But there’s something about Jonah that is also totally awesome.

Jonah is bilingual. He understands pretty much everything and when he wants to he can also speak Hebrew pretty well. I know this because one day when I was working from home the baby monitor was left and I and I overheard a conversation between Jonah and  his Israeli babysitter in Ivrit.

Don’t misunderstand me. I always knew that he understood Hebrew, but never to the extent that this conversation displayed.

That’s not to see that Jonah’s language skills don’t have some problems. He pretty much gets all of his pronouns mixed up – which comes to make a lot of sense considering “he” (in Hebrew) means “she” (in English).

This was also a bit of a problem when he was a bit younger and he used to call “fish” “ducks”  – or so we thought. Then we realized that what he was really saying was “dag” which in Hebrew does in fact mean “fish” – and alerted us to the fact that we shouldn’t worry as much when he started quacking at all of the fish he saw.

Why am I sharing this story is two-fold:

  1. I’m an educator and I never realized how smart my own kid was. What other talents does he have that I don’t even begin to know about or acknowledge?
  2. And second, I just gave my kid the best ever Jewish education that I could have ever hoped for. It certainly wasn’t cheap but he was going to get childcare anyway. And now, double bang for my buck. The kid speaks Hebrew. He learns about holidays in Hebrew. He sings songs in Hebrew. And even though he’s reluctant to talk in Hebrew in front of his friends – every now and then I catch him mixing the two languages – and I’m totally cool with that.

Have I stumbled upon a new business opportunity? Have I stumbled upon the next big thing in Jewish education? Imagine a certified cadre of Israeli babysitters teaching, as much through osmosis as anything else, Hebrew and Israeli culture to 2 and 3 year old kids throughout the world….

Maybe and who knows?

What I do know for sure is that Jonah is even more awesome that he might first appear. And that Jonah’s caregiver Ira might be one of the best Jewish educators that I have ever seen.


  1. Lauren   |  Monday, 24 June 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Bryfy :)
    Kids are amazing sponges when it comes to learning languages. They can learn several languages provided they’re exposed to them regularly enough! The thing is that it needs to be maintained otherwise it fades away as they get older. So he will stay bilingual provided he is still getting that exposure to Hebrew consistently. Keep it up with him and you’ll have a little polyglot before you know it 😉

  2. Hilda   |  Tuesday, 25 June 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Hi yet again you and Ruth have similarities both of you have multilingual children but ofcourse in Noa’s case it is English and French

    Love Hildaxx

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