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Hebrew is Magic: Full Speed Ahead

Dear friends,

This week we celebrated Israel’s 76th birthday.

What was once a vision and a distant dream has since become our tangible homeland. In the Zionist spirit, we’re going to unpack one of the words in the first stanza of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.

As you’ll recall, the fourth line of “Hatikvah” reads:

“The eye looks to Zion”

That final word, tzofiyah (צופיה)

means “to look” or “to scout.” It’s derived from the shoresh (root) tzadi-peh-yud (.צ.פ.י)

Other words derived from this root include the youth movement Tzofim (צופים)

or “Scouts, Tatzpitanit (תצפיתנית)

the battalion of female soldiers in the IDF who monitor Israel’s borders 24-7, commonly nicknamed, “Eyes of the country,” and the Jerusalem hilltop where many of you studied (and partied) during your semesters abroad at Hebrew-U, Har Tzofim (הר צופים)

AKA, Mount Scopus.

But what’s really special about the tzadi-peh-yud root is that it appears in tzipiyah (ציפייה)

Hebrew for “expectation,” which brings us back to Israel’s national anthem.

Hebrew knows something we often overlook: The first step in making dreams come true is to expect them to come true!

When we visualize our goals, we inherently anticipate them into being. Keeping our eyes on the prize is the equivalent of a self-fulfilling prophecy – when it comes to Israel, this holds true as ever. For centuries, the Jewish people maintained an unwavering belief that we would one day return to our homeland; our practice was centered not around if it would happen, but when.

As Theodor Herzl famously said, “If you will it, it is not a dream” – and finally, on that beautiful day in 1948, our expectation became reality.

What’s truly beautiful about the idea of expectation is that it’s a two-way street. While the events of October 7th will be forever seared in our memories, we cannot forget what transpired on October 8th and the days after, when 200,000 Israelis were called for military reserve duty and 350,000 showed up. Meanwhile, Israeli society was overcome with a wave of volunteerism, the likes of which few countries have ever seen.

Why? Because in those harrowing times, Israelis knew what was expected of them, as a nation and as individuals.

As we approach Israel’s 77th year, I invite you to think about your own expectations for Israel and act as though they’ve already been fulfilled.

You might also think about what Israel, in this perilous time, expects of you.

Although this may seem counterintuitive, this mindset is precisely what will turn our expectations into reality.

Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian, podcast host, and co-author of Israel 201, winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. You can find out more about his comedy, books, and upcoming tour at, and sign up for his weekly newsletter, Hebrew Is Magic, to learn more about the hidden life lessons in Hebrew words.  

2024 State of the Field of Hebrew Language Education Report

We are excited to share the new 2024 State of the Field Report: Hebrew Education in North American Jewish Day Schools.

This report brings together significant work of partners and stakeholders to better understand, recognize and leverage advancements in Hebrew education throughout our field. The 80-page report features aggregated and curated knowledge acquired from our field over the past 12 months.

Join Hebrew teachers, Hebrew leaders, and other school leaders for an intensive, virtual conference on Sunday, April 3, 11:30 – 3:30 EDT. 

Click here for more information and to register