Oleh / Olah / Olim (What are olims?).
Learn the Hebrew language.
Oleh, Olah, Olim, Vatik, Vatika, Vatikim – without a doubt, Hebrew is a difficult language to learn and most Olim struggle to get it right. English words have crept into the Hebrew lexicon. Moses and the ancients never had to deal with mobile phones, fax machines and disk-on-keys but thanks to modern Hebrew educators real words are being added for new concepts and inventions.
When we get stuck with a Hebrew word, its plural or pronunciation we sometimes borrow the English word and turn it into a form of ‘pidgin Hebrew’ like television (Hebrew: televisiya) and cigarettes (Hebrew: sigariot).
In the last few years we have seen the incorrect use of a Hebrew word that has filtered into the vocabulary of Anglo olim and that word is ‘Olims’
Let’s get back to basics and learn the correct Hebrew words that relate to Aliyah.
|Veteran immigrant (m/f)
What is Aliyah?
A person who makes Aliyah is called an “Oleh” – someone who goes up (in this case goes up to Israel). It refers to a single person. Two or more people, a family or a group who have made Aliyah are called “Olim” – the plural form of Oleh. As we said, Olim is already a plural word and the made-up word ‘Olims’ is a mistake. Across social media, we have seen the use of the word ‘Olims’ used like this example;- We are a family of ‘Olims’ looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv. The correct way of expressing this, should be: We are a family of olim and we are looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv.
Now let’s get back to the important Aliyah related words.
If you are a new immigrant you are an ‘Oleh Hadash’ or ‘Olah Hadasha’, Generally this title lasts for about 10 years. The concept behind it is that you are still in the learning phase and finding your feet in Israel. If you have been here for a short time you might be referred to as “Mamash, Mamash, Oleh Hadash” – ‘Really, really new.’ Note that in Hebrew if you want to make a point and emphasize something, you use a double adjective like: hadash, hadash. There are many instances when this double adjective is practiced in conversation and here are two examples ‘Taim, taim’ – very tasty or ‘Naki, naki’ – very clean.
If you have been in Israel for more than 10 years, and less than 15, you graduate from being called an Oleh Hadash to being call a plain Oleh. You are now less likely to being called a “friar” – the Hebrew term for ‘sucker’.
Somewhere round the 20 year mark, you become a “Vatik” – a veteran resident. If you are a Vatik it is assumed that you have a full understanding of how things work in Israel. You are no longer a “friar”. If you have been in Israel for 30 years (give or take a few), you are a “Vatik, Vatik” – a very seasoned veteran Oleh. You are now fully integrated into Israeli society, you are experienced and can teach the next generation of ‘Olim Hadashim’ a thing or two.
Hebrew is a complicated language, with masculine and feminine words.Now;-
When Olim arrive in Israel, they are given a document called a “Teudat Oleh”. This document proves that you are an Oleh Hadash or an Olah Hadashah or a family of Olim Hadashim (take note – not Olims). As an Oleh Hadash or an Olah Hadashah, you have certain rights and are entitled to various benefits – these rights and benefits are called “Zchuyot Oleh“. Try to think of them as privileges rather than rights or entitlements. For the most part these privileges take the form of financial assistance. (Our grateful thanks to millions of Israeli tax-payers and the contributions of the Jewish community around the world whose money is used for this purpose!)
Heaven forbid, spit 3 times, tfu-tfu-tfu – you decide, after making Aliyah, to leave Israel, you will be called a “Yored” and that process is called “Yerida” – going down. Forget about the word ‘Olims’ it doesn’t exist in the Hebrew or English language.
Now that you understand this most important lesson, you are ready to learn more everyday Hebrew with our free word-sheets, by topic, with English and transliterations.
We acknowledge the work of all the Aliyah organizations, groups and individuals who work tirelessly to help new Olim with their integration in every possible way.