Israeli Newspapers - From Easy Hebrew to English to Stomach

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The Serial Tourist's Guide to Living in Jerusalem

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The first Hebrew paper I subscribed to and learned most of my newspaper Hebrew from was "Israel Shelanu" which was published in Canada, of all places:-) It was about $50 a year, delivered, and I took it and read very night in a coffee shop for that time. It was a weekly, as is "Sha'ar Lamat'hil' (gateway to the beginner), which is pictured to the left. Unlike Israel Shelanu, Sha'ar Lamat'hil is written and edited for beginning Hebrew readers. I've never subscribed myself, but I used to tutor a student who was subscribed for years in the U.S., and often we just read that paper together. As a beginners newspaper, it includes vowels (nikudot) and is written with a basic vocabulary. When new words or words the editors deem difficult are introduced, they are explained with easier words in parenthesis (curved lines containing comments), and repeated in subsequent stories and editions. The back page of the paper is written in super-easy Hebrew for the real beginner, but some of the culture or editorial stories on the inside are printed without nikudot. The issue I bought for this writing was 16 pages long.
I'll give the current subscription information for the U.S. It's distributed by Bay Marketing Inc, 1300 Metropolitan Ave. Brooklyn, N.Y. 11237. Tel. (718) 386-3400. The subscription phone in Israel is 1-800-38-91-91. They have a website I've never visited at www.slamathil.co.il. I think it's a great place to start learning newspaper Hebrew and fun way to practice reading skills, but two minor caveats. First, most people don't speak in newspaper Hebrew, which contains lots of passive language and almost no conversation unless an interview is being reported. Second, you may find the first few weeks difficult as you learn some vocabulary words that are necessary for news, relating to politics, crime and the economy, which aren't usually included in beginning Hebrew classes, which focus on conversational skills.In the picture to the right, a blow-up of the lead story, you can see the word "tome'him" explained in parenthisis as "hem bi'ad", or in English, "support" is explained as "they are for." In the bottom line of the blow-up, the word "ho'rahot" is explained as "pikoodote", or in English, "instructions" is explained as "orders."
The New York Times of Israel, i.e., the supposed paper of record, is Ha-Aretz. Ha-Aretz is written in very good Hebrew and some of the columnists go over the top a bit on literary allusions, but the actual news stories are no harder to read than the other Hebrew newspapers once you get used to the style. Ha-Aretz also publishes an English version which is sold with the Herald. I would term both of these newspapers as being left-wing in their editorial views, and I wouldn't be alone. In fact, despite being the paper of record, Ha-Aretz has a pretty low readership, and I've been told that they don't pay well since they are able to attract journalists and columnists who want to appear in the pages there. No idea whether or not that's true. I tend to buy Ha-Aretz on Friday for two reasons. First, you just get a lot more news stories to choose from than you do in the tabloid style papers, and more to read. Second, you get Kol HaIr free when you buy Ha-Aretz.
The most popular Hebrew newspaper in Israel is Yidiyot Achronot. Some competing Anglo newspaper types with a sense of humor refer to Yidiyot Achronot as "The Last Idiot", but of course it mean, "The Latest News." It's written in a somewhat more conversational and sensationalistic style than Ha-Aretz, at least when it comes to crime and war. On politics, I think they are pretty middle of the road, which would explain why they have something on the order of 70% of the Hebrew paper readership, if I recall. They have many popular feature writers, one of whom went on to form a political party that was a major player in government for a couple Kinnesets. The number two Hebrew paper in Israel is Maariv, which I believe gets something over 20% of the readership, so you can guess what's left for Ha-Aretz. I used to read Maariv because I thought they had one of the better daily business section, and I enjoyed the little science stories they would work in. Both of the tabloids manage to work some pictures of pretty girls in on a regular basis, often soldiers doing something or another, not the cheesecake stuff popular in tabloids in some other countries.
The oldest English paper published in Israel is the Jerusalem Post, which is also available in International editions, online, and in French! The Jerusalem Post is a bit of a counterweight to Ha-Aretz, in that it's editorial position is probably to the right of the mainstream Hebrew papers. Most English speakers I know take the Jerusalem Post of the Herald because the Herald/Ha-Artez combination is difficult to stomach. The Post is not a particularly long paper so I usually read it cover to cover when I get it, barring some of the columnists who write first person drivel like me. They have a pretty good sports section, but since the Sunday paper in Israel comes out on Friday (you know what I mean) there's rarely much football (real NFL football) news in it. It's good for keeping up with NBA basketball, because you won't see many games in Israel unless you have a special cable package. The Monday Post has a good football roundup, but I'm not inclined to buy the paper just for that. There are also a number of religious sector newspapers, in Hebrew, and some big production Russian newspapers, which I assume get some syndicated content from Russia, but I could be wrong.

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