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Hebrew Language - Online Resources: Search tips and tools

Searching for Hebrew books in the catalog

Much of our Hebraic language collection is now available in the Research Catalog. However, the Research Catalog does not yet allow searching in the Hebrew script. To search using the Hebrew script, please use the Legacy Catalog.

Another option is to search for an item written in Hebrew characters by following some of the rules catalogers use to enter their records, entering a romanized title (in Roman, or English, script). You can often find the romanization of a Hebrew title simply by searching for it in Google or WorldCat, but the below suggestions can help when a Google search fails. 

- Romanization Tables

The Library of Congress has romanization tables (pdf), which indicate which letters should be used to represent consonants and vowels in Hebrew/Yiddish.

Please note that when searching the catalog no character is required to represent the aleph and ayin. Just enter the accompanying vowel. Neither should the dots below the Roman script letters be entered (i.e., on the vav, het, tet, and kof) nor the line above the s for the sin.

In Hebrew, only romanize yod as y when it is followed by a vowel. (Note that we romanize Daniyel, not Daniel.)

- Hebrew Prefixes

When romanized, Hebrew prefixes are almost always separated by a hyphen from the word to which they are joined e.g., not haarets BUT ha-arets.

With this in mind:

1)   The definite article ha- at the beginning of a title should not be entered in a search.         

2)   In almost all other instances the definite article is romanized as ha-  

3)   The prefix vav  is romanized ve- before any consonant except :

before a bet, vav, mem or peh = u- e.g., u-vet or u-foalav 

before any initial letter with a sheva = u- e.g., u-khetav

before a consonant with hataf-patah or hataf kamats = va- e.g., va-avodah

before a yod with a sheva = vi- BUT  Library of Congress rules require the sheva that should have assimilated remain, i.e. Vi-Yerushalayim not vi-yrushalayim.

The prefixes be-, ke-, and le- behave as above. If they include the definite article then they will be romanized ba-, la-, etc.

- Hyphenation

The case of Levi and Kohen: when romanizing a family name do not use a hyphen, e.g., use Halevi or Hakohen

However when it is a title it should be ha-Levi or ha-Kohen.

It is also important to note the following romanizations: Be-reshit & Va-yikra.

"Little words" where hyphenation is dependent on their appearance in the dictionary will rarely appear in the title phrase you wish to search and will not be dealt with here.

- The Sheva

The sheva nah (non-vocal sheva) is ignored. The Alcalay dictionary is a useful aid in the  identification of this sheva—he did not transcribe it.

The sheva at the beginning of a Hebrew word (sheva na or vocal sheva) is romanized e i.e., teshuvah not tshuvah.

However, in some cases the sheva na is not romanized. One of the most common instances in a title is the construct form of toladot which is rendered toldot (not toledot), as in Toldot Yaakov.

- Abbreviations

The Princeton University library Hebrew cataloging guide provides an extensive list of romanized abbreviations, and some examples of Hebrew words which may present difficulties.

If you can't find something in our catalog, please contact us at dorotjewish@nypl.org.

Text Translators

- Reverso Context - provides English-Hebrew and Hebrew-English translations of words and phrases in context with real-life examples of words and expressions, using natural language. It provides a virtual keyboard.

- Google Translate - instantly translates words, phrases, and web pages.

Virtual keyboard

- Virtual keyboard - words can be typed by using a mouse or a finger on touch screens and copied into other sites.

- Hebrew Keyboard by Branah - this software allows typing using a mouse or a finger on touch screens, and copying into other sites. It also converts the computer’s physical keyboard to type in Hebrew.

- Nakdan by Dicta - Automatically adds nikud (vocalization) to any modern, poetic or classical Hebrew text.