Hebrew Vocabulary: Public leaders

Israeli politics are often in the news – both locally and internationally. The political scene changes frequently and the country operates under a parliamentary democracy. Something that you might find interesting is that Israel has both a President and a Prime Minister. In Israel, the President is a ceremonial role, while the Prime Minister is the leader of the country.

If you follow the news, you’ll know that Israel’s government is frequently a topic of discussion. You might have heard the term “Knesset” and wondered what the word means. This article will introduce you to a few Hebrew words relating to political positions. Your vocabulary will expand to include some words we frequently use for political terms and public leaders. After reading this, you’ll be one step closer to fully understanding the Israeli political arena. Learning these Hebrew words can be a practical way to better comprehend everything that is going on.

Ready to learn? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and take some notes, because in just a few paragraphs you’ll have new Hebrew words incorporated into your vocabulary.

Hebrew words related to politics and leadership

President: President in Hebrew is נָשִׂיא. It is pronounced nah-see, and since Israel has a parliamentary democracy, the President isn’t necessarily the most important person in office. Did you know that former Israeli President Chaim Weizmann wanted Albert Einstein to be his successor?

Mayor: Mayor in Israel is ראש העיר, it means “the head of the city”, and it is pronounced rosh-ha-eer. Many important figures in the Israeli government started their political careers either as mayors or as active members of a municipality. Although cities are quite small in Israel, Mayors have a lot to do. For example, educational programs depend to a certain degree on Municipalities and their budgets.

Minister: Minister in Hebrew is שר. It is pronounced “sar”, and currently, Israel has 27 Government Ministries. Interestingly enough, the Prime Minister can also be a Ministerial head. On the other hand, you get Ministers who do not run a specific ministry and you get Ministers who oversee multiple ministries. At present, there are 36 Ministers in Israel.

Municipal Councilor: In Hebrew, Municipal Councilor is חבר מועצה. This is a member of the board in the municipality that either approves or disapproves decisions that the mayor in charge takes. In Israel, municipalities have חברי מועצה that are “part of the municipal coalition”, and others who form the internal opposition for that specific Municipal administration.

Senator/Assemblyman/Parliamentary: In Israel, because of the parliamentary democracy system, these roles are known as חבר כנסת, this means “member of the Knesset (parliament)” and it is pronounced cha-ver kneh-sett. They all work together in Jerusalem, and just as it is in the Municipalities, you have חברי כנסת that are members of the government coalition and others who form the opposition.

Prime Minister: You most likely know this one. Prime Minister in Hebrew is ראש הממשלה and it means “the head of the government”. It is pronounced rosh ha-mem-shah-lah. In the history of Israel, we have had several amazing Prime Ministers. We invite you to read the outstanding stories of Menachem Begin and Golda Meir.

Bonus track: More Hebrew words about Politics

Well done! You already know how to identify each one of these political roles in Hebrew. Now, we want to give you some extra words that will help you better understand the Israeli political scene.

If you want to come live in Israel, these next two words will be highly useful. Check them out:

Elections: We have had way too much of them lately! Elections in Hebrew are בחירות and the word is pronounced beh-chee-rot. When do you think the next one is coming?

Democracy: Here’s an easy one! Democracy in Hebrew is דֵמוֹקרָטִיָה and it is pronounced deh-moh-krah-tee-ah. Try to pronounce it… easy, isn’t it?

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About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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