Let’s learn about our family…

At the end of the month of Shevat, we commemorate Family Day in Israel, which was, until a few years ago, Mother’s Day. Today we will learn new words that are related to family, and by doing so our journey with the Hebrew Language will continue.


When you think about family, you need to bear in mind that there are different types in modern times. When you speak only about your family – which usually means parents (Horim in Hebrew- הורים) and children (Yeladim in Hebrew-ילדים) – the Hebrew term that we use is “Mispachah Metsumsemet”- .מִשְׁפָּחָה מְצוּמְצֶמֶת

This family usually has one father-’av- אָבand one mother-’em- אֵם. Nowadays  there are also families with same-sex parents, and today in Israel, any couple (even same-sex couples) can bring a child to the world the traditional way, via adoption, or even a surrogate mother.

When talking about children, there is always the first born. If it’s a son, he is called a firstborn-Bechor in Hebrew- בְּכוֹר and if it’s a girl she is called in Hebrew Bat Bechorah- בְּכוֹרָה. The youngest child is called ben (son) or bat (daughter) Zequnim- זְקוּנִים. The son or the daughter in the middle, if there is family of at least three kids, is called the Sandwich – סֶנְדְּוִיץ’ child.

When a family only has one parent, it is called Mishpachah Chad-Horit- מִשְׁפָּחָה חַד-הוֹרִיתand if the family has many children, whether it’s a single parent or with two parents, we say that this family is blessed with kids – Mishpacah Beruchat Yeladim or Mishpacah Merubat Yeladim. Usually those kinds

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of families can be found among orthodox, Arabic or Bedouin families in Israel.

There are parents that have only one son or one daughter. The son is called “Ben Yachid”( בֵּן יָחִיד) and the daughter is called “Bat Yechidah”( בַּת יְחִידָה). This is uncommon in Israel.

You can’t mention Family Day in Israel without singing two beautiful songs that are sung and played on this day. Both were written by Yoram Tahar Lev, who is one of Israel’s great songwriters. The name of the song is “My family”-Hamishpacah Sheli- המשפחה שלי, and you can listen to it here-

The second song is called Barbabba, which speaks about a child mocked by other children, and one day he met Barba’imma and then they get married. You can listen to this song here-

I wish you all great days with your family. You are more than welcome to send me more questions about Modern Hebrew and I will answer them in my next posts.

Iris Heller- Dahan


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