Hebrew Alphabet: Fonts and Word Processors

Several Hebrew fonts for PC (Windows) are available for free from http://www.snunit.k12.il/hebrew.html. Please be patient! This site is in Israel and is often slow to load. The example of pointed text above uses Snuit's Web Hebrew AD font. These Hebrew fonts map to ASCII 224-250, high ASCII characters which are not normally available on the keyboard, but this is the mapping that most Hebrew websites use. I'm not sure how you use those characters on a Mac. In Windows, you can go to Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Character Map and select them there. If you know the mappings in Windows, you can also type the letters by holding down the ALT key and pressing the number as 4 digits on the numeric keypad. For example, Alef maps to ASCII 224, so if you hold down ALT and press 0224 in the numeric keypad, it will type an Alef. In addition, MS Word for Windows will let you assign shortcut keys to these Hebrew letters at Insert | Symbol.

If you use MS Internet Explorer version 5 or AOL version 5, you can download Hebrew support for your browser from the Windows Update center on Microsoft's website, http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/. Very few sites are using this Hebrew support at this time, but they may in the future. Microsoft's Hebrew support includes Hebrew versions of various standard fonts, such as Times New Roman and Arial, as well as a few new Hebrew fonts, such as Rod and Miriam. These fonts map in very strange ways and are not keyboard-accessible; however, you can set up shortcut keys in MS Word for Windows at Insert | Symbol.

If you have AOL, there are also Hebrew fonts that can be downloaded from AOL. Some of these have intuitive keyboard mappings, so you can for example type the letter H and get the letter Heh in these fonts. To find fonts on AOL, go to Keyword: File Search, select Shareware, and search for the term "hebrew font." You may also want to check out the Download area in AOL's Jewish Community (Keyword: Jewish Community). The big alefbet at the top of the page uses a font I downloaded from AOL years ago (it's just called Hebrew; I don't know if it's still there). Many of these Hebrew fonts have the same high-ASCII mappings as the Snuit fonts (which is good, because that's what most websites with Hebrew use), but some of them have intuitive keyboard mappings (a = Alef; b = Bet, g = Gimmel, etc.).

Of course, all of the above fonts would require you to type Hebrew backwards, because word processors go from left to right and Hebrew goes from right to left! If you are serious about writing a significant amount of text in Hebrew, you will need a Hebrew word processor. An excellent Hebrew word processor is DavkaWriter, available from Davka Software. DavkaWriter comes with many attractive Hebrew fonts including both consonents and vowels that will map to your keyboard in an intuitive phonetic way or in the standard Israeli keyboard format. It is very easy to switch between Hebrew and English within a document. DavkaWriter even comes with little stickers to put on the keys of your keyboard so you can learn their keyboard mappings, and an onscreen display shows you their keyboard mappings. Davka also has a lot of fonts available, as well as a lot of other Hebrew and Judaic software.