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Making The Alphabet Dance
or Ingenious Hebrew Letter Forms

Document URL: http://www.nationalfinder.com/heblet/index.htm
Document size: about 19 A4 pages when printed
Updated: 18 March 2005

Compiled by Roger Harris   1999-2005
E-mail: heblet@nationalfinder.com

Copyright Declaration:
Copyright in the various designs belongs to their respective owners. Trade Marks are the property of their owners. All product names and trademarks displayed herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

The Hebrew alphabet is written and printed in many forms. Hebrew letters intended for a Sefer Torah scroll, or for mezuzah or tefilin scrolls, are subject to the most stringent conditions regarding their shape and the manner in which they are written.

In contrast, this page contains a listing of light-hearted examples of Hebrew letters which have been formed into motifs and patterns. They are taken from advertisements in newspapers and magazines and from wedding, bar mitzvah and simchah invitations.

Some of the examples bear wine stains and I have not tried to remove them from the digital images; like the wine stains in a treasured haggadah, they are a reminder of happy times.

My thanks go to ...

  • Joan Martyr who delights in the artistic way that Hebrew letters are incorporated into motifs. It was she who gave me the idea for this page.
  • The late Mr Erich Rosenthal whose Society for Redistribution of Used Seforim provided much of the material displayed below.
  • Mr Ross Eckler for inspiring the title of this page. His book "Making the Alphabet Dance" (ISBN: 0-312-14032-0) is based upon the Latin alphabet and is a rich source of acrostics, palindromes, anagrams, lipograms, word squares, homonyms, word worms and isograms. Mr Eckler is the editor of Word Ways magazine.

Inevitably, once I had begun to compile a list of attractive alphabet forms, I found examples of the Tablets of the Law, Magen David and the menorah. They are listed at the end of the alphabet section.
 
Click for an example of the Hebrew block alphabet

 
 
 
 

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Making The Alphabet Dance

 
These designs are also known as monograms.
 

These first nine designs are the work of B. Rosenbloom, a monogram designer in the U.S.A.
Web-site: http://www.hebrewmonograms.com
Copyright 2002-2003
1
1 Chana - chet nun hei
2
2 Moshe and Sara Chana G.: Mem, sin, chet which together form a gimel.
3
3 mem, yud, chet, vav
4
4 dalet, mem, resh, lamed, koof
5
5 Meir Simcha and Brocha K.: bet, mem, sin
6
6 Yehuda Aryeh and Rivka Miriam M.: resh, mem, yud, aleph
7
7 Chana Baila and Yosef Yitzchak: chet, bet, yud, yud.
8
8 Menachem Mendel Dovid and Laya: mem, mem, dalet, lamed
9
9 Eitan Yaakov and Baila Gittel: aleph, yud, bet, gimel

 

Examples of work by other designers
hebl-1.jpg
1 The flower contains 'nun yud' (Nechamah Yael) and 'mem zayin' (Menachem Ziev). The leaves contain the words 'mazel tov.'
hebl-2.jpg
2 The tree's canopy contains 'aleph chet shin' and the trunk contains 'mem.'
hebl-3.jpg
3 From the wedding invitation of Helene and Jul in 1972.
hebl-5.jpg
4 British WIZO
hebl-6.jpg
5 From the wedding invitation of Naomi and David, 21st Av 5736.
hebl-7.jpg
6    Yud mem resh dalet on the bowl, gimel on the stem: Yehuda M. v'Rivkah Dina G.
hebl-8.jpg
7  Yud tet zayin chet mem
hebl-50.jpg
8  Yeshiva Yad Halevi: above:yud dalet;
below: hei lamed vov yud. Vowel points appear to be included. The water jug alludes to the Levite's function of providing washing facilities for the Cohanim in the Temple.
Source: Jewish Tribune, 20 March 1997, page 12.
hebl-10.jpg
9  Mem chet
hebl-11.jpg
10   The image contains 'yud bet' for Yitzchak B and 'resh shin' for Rachel Sara.
From a wedding invitation.
hebl-12.jpg
11   From the Bar Mitzvah invitation of Meir Heller, 1973
hebl-13.jpg hebl-13a.jpg
12   From the wedding invitation of Shmuel and Elisheva. The 'shin and aleph' appear at the top of the tree trunk. The left stem of the shin has been augmented to form an aleph.
hebl-14.jpg
13  The letters have a rhythmic life of their own.
hebl-15.jpg
14  Pei
hebl-16.jpg
15   The pei, chet and lamed may, with the horizontal shape, possibly form a shin. The left vertical line of the chet resembles an intertwined havdala candle and may have additional significance.
hebl-17.jpg
16   The motif contains 'aleph, dalet and pei'
hebl-18.jpg
17  Shin, yud and ayin.
hebl-19.jpg
18  This congested design may represent a candle and flame or a flower. An aleph is at the top and a lamed at the right-middle. The lower half appears to contain a yud or a vov.
hebl-20.jpg
19   The motif contains the initials of Eleazar Tsoker (aleph tzaddi) on the left, read from left to right, and Esther Malka (aleph mem) on the right, read from right to left.
hebl-21.jpg
20   In what look like reflections along the length of the yad from the top may be found the initials of Baruch Yehuda Dizilavsky (bet yud dalet).
hebl-22.jpg
21   The lights of the menorah carry the letters yud, aleph, vov, vov, aleph-lamed and bet.
hebl-23.jpg
22  Yud, yud, ayin.
hebl-47.jpg
23  Camp Shemesh
Source: Jewish Express, 6 February 1998, page 26
hebl-25.jpg
24  
hebl-26.jpg
25  Shin pei on the upper part of the bowl, vov vov on the stem, caf on the base. The characters on the lower part of the bowl could not be recognised.
hebl-27.jpg
26   Chani and Michael R.
hebl-46.jpg hebl-46b.jpg hebl-46a.jpg

27  Belzer Yeshiva, London.
hebl-28.jpg
28  Reading clockwise: bet, chet, shin, aleph.
hebl-29.jpg
29  Milka Michl Daniel
hebl-30.jpg
30  Chet, aleph, bet and resh. Perhaps the falling winedrops are yuds.
hebl-31.jpg
31  Aleph, shin, aleph, chet, chet.
The innermost and outermost branches of the menorah are represented by handwritten text.
hebl-32.jpg
32  Mem, mem, hei.
hebl-33.jpg
33  
hebl-34.jpg
34  Mem, vov.
hebl-35.jpg
35  Bet resh or caf resh.
hebl-36.jpg
36  Mem zayin.
hebl-37.jpg
37  Chet, aleph, mem.
hebl-45.jpg
38  
hebl-39.jpg
39  Upper shofar: Yitschak Menachem; lower shofar: Biela Miriam. The mouths of the shofars appear to be joined by a lamed.
hebl-40.jpg
40  Beth chet, dalet yud, shin. The loop at the base might be a samech or a final mem.
hebl-41.jpg
41  The fish contains aleph bet and shin bet. Below, the waves spell out 'mazel tov.'
hebl-42.jpg
42  Chet, shin, resh, zayin, mem, dalet. It is possible that the dalet plus the stem of the flower represent a kof.
hebl-44.jpg
43  Hei.
hebl-55.jpg
44  Yud, kof, resh.
hebl-48.jpg
45  British Friends of Bar-Ilan University.
hebl-51.jpg
46  .
hebl-38.jpg
47  Beit HaSefer Torah Temimah.
hebl-52.jpg
48  From the marriage invitation of Chaim and Rachel-Promt(?). The leaf on the right is a chet for the chatan while on the left two leaves represent resh and pei for the kallah. In the centre are a zayin and a yud.
hebl-53.jpg
49  Kestenbaum & Co., New York, auctioneers of rare books and manuscripts. The image appears to have been copied from an old Haggadah. There are three different mem images. The mems, which illustrate the text, stand for matza, maror and ma nishtanah. The person seated at the left side of the table is holding a matza
hebl-54.jpg
50  Kof, a menorah doubling as a shin, resh.
hebl-56.jpg
51  The crown contains the words 'mazel tov.'
hebl-9.jpg
52  Kol Halashon
hebl-57.jpg
53  Limmud: the lamed serves both as a Hebrew character and a Latin character.
hebl-58.jpg
54   {Hei lamed lamed} = Hillel.
Wolfson Hillel Primary School, London.
hebl-59.jpg
55  {mem nun tes chet} form the crown.
Below, the mem in malchut tries unsuccessfully to be both a Hebrew character and a Latin character.
Source: Hamoedia, 10 Sep 1999, page 12.
hebl-60.jpg
56  {beth lamed lamed}: Bank Leumi
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 18.
hebl-61.jpg
57  This design appears to have no alphabetic content. The central black areas are commentary columns.
Source: Jewish Tribune, 2 Sep 1999, page 5.
hebl-62.jpg
58  {shin, lamed, cholem, mem sofit}
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 25 Jun 1999, p19.
hebl-63.jpg
59  {pei,aleph,hei,kof}
Source: benscher
hebl-64.jpg
60  An interesting example of combined Hebrew 'cursive'(mem,hei) and Latin characters (C,H).
Source: Birchat Hamazon, published by the Central Hotel for simchas, etc.
hebl-66.jpg
61  
Source: benscher
hebl-65.jpg
62  {nun,shin} with tagin.
Source: benscher
hebl-67.jpg
63  Degel Yerushalaim
Source: benscher
hebl-68.jpg
64   An alphabet fish spouting bubbles for the chuppah of Rachel (resh) and Arje (aleph). the significance of the first letter is unclear.
Source: benscher
hebl-69.jpg
65  
Source: benscher.
hebl-70.jpg
66  B'siman tov v'mazel tov. The lamed and the nun sofit are joined.
hebl-71.jpg
67  Kof,hei,tav.
Source: benscher.
hebl-72.jpg
68  Mem,shin,gimel. A yud or a zayin may perhaps be hidden amongst the foliage at the top of the tree.
Source: benscher.
hebl-73.jpg
69  Shin,hei
Source: benscher.
hebl-74.jpg
70  aleph,chet,mem. The mem and the aleph share a yud. The design might also contain a beth and a kof.
Source: benscher.
hebl-75.jpg
71  Breslov
hebl-76.jpg
72  Or HaChaim
hebl-43.jpg
73  Dan Hotels, Israel. The dalet is easy to recognise and possibly the left-vertical and the bottom-horizontal blocks, together with the dalet, form a cryptic mem (malon=hotel).
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 1 Oct 1999, page 9.
hebl-77.jpg
74  Another Latin m combined awkwardly with a Hebrew mem. (see item 55, above) Miller Publishers, 8 Habakuk Street, Jerusalem.
Source: Hamodia, 10 Sep 1999, p11.
hebl-78.jpg
75  Clore School. The three-flowered twig, with fortunate alignment, acts as a vav in the Hebrew word and an i in the transliteration.
hebl-79.jpg
76  The spacing of the letters of b'siman is confusing.
hebl-80.jpg
77  {aleph,zayin,gimel}
hebl-81.jpg
78  
hebl-82.jpg
79  
hebl-83.jpg
80  
hebl-84.jpg
81  
hebl-85.jpg
82  
hebl-86.jpg
83  
hebl-87.jpg
84  {yud,resh} and {yud,dalet}
hebl-88.jpg
85  
hebl-89.jpg
86  
hebl-90.jpg
87  From the wedding invitation of Asher and Chana F.
hebl-91.jpg
88  Masorti Academy, London, U.K.
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 8 Oct 1999, p13.

 

hebl-92.jpg
89  
blank
90  blank
hebl-93.jpg
91  The initials dalet caf and mem pei. The pei shares the yud of the mem. The pei and the caf share the same outline.
hebl-94.jpg
92  dalet caf and mem pei on traditional ring
hebl-95.jpg
93  dalet and mem

 
 
 Monogram designers:

 

 
 
 
 

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The Tablets Of The Law

According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols (ISBN 0-87668-594-7),
art historians have suggested that the familiar depiction of the
tablets - two attached rectangular slabs with rounded tops - is
the creation of early Christian artists. Ancient Jewish descriptions
depict the tablets as cubes or even two joined hands. (Song of Songs
Rabbah 5:14,1.)"

 

tabl-1.jpg
1  Project SEED
Source: Jewish Tribune, 7 Oct 1999, page 4.

  blank

 
 
 
 

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Magen Davids

The Magen David is often adapted in imaginative ways.
Here are a few.

 

mogn-1.jpg
1  Mesila, Jerusalem.
Source: Hamoedia, 10 Sep 1999, page 12.
mogn-2.jpg
2  
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 2.
mogn-3.jpg
3  Tehilla
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 2.
mogn-4.jpg
4   Jewish AIDS Trust
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 10.
mogn-5.jpg
5  National Jewish Outreach Program.
http://www.njop.org
mogn-6.jpg
6  Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem.
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 17 Sep 1999.
mogn-8.jpg mogn-8a.jpg
7  
Source: UJIA advertising leaflet.
mogn-9.jpg
8  Jewish Chronicle "Take The Pulse Every Friday"
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 6 Aug 1999, p43.
mogn-10.jpg
9  Maccabi Association, London.
Source: London Jewish News, 1 Oct 1999, page 4.
mogn-11.jpg
10  The text reads "Promotion until December. Whisky, Gin, Rums, Vodka. 6 Bottle." I don't like this way of using a Magen Dovid in an advertisement.
Source: London Jewish News, 1 Oct 1999, page ii.
mogn-12.jpg
11  Sarel 2000
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 24 Sep 1999, page 4.

12  Hospital Kosher Meals Service, U.K.
hkms@compuserve.com
mogn-15.jpg
13
mogn-14.jpg
14

 
 
 
 

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Menorahs

 

menr-1.jpg
1  .
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 2.
menr-2.jpg
2  Bnai Brith JBG Housing Association.
Source: London Jewish News, 6 Aug 1999, page 26.
menr-3.jpg
3  New Whetstone Synagogue, London N20.
This is the first five-branch menorah which I have seen. Candles two and four form the letter 'N' whilst candles one, three and five form the letter 'W.'
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 3 Sep 1999, page 59.
menr-5.jpg
5  Menorahs and Magen Davids in an unexpected place. These are stamped into the gilded page edges of a pocket Tenach published by 'Sinai' Publishing Co. of Tel-Aviv. All three sides are gilded and stamped. The size of the Tenach is 93mm W x 120mm H x 40mm T.
menr-4.jpg
4  A six-branch menorah.
With a little imagination the first candle becomes a vov, the next three a shin and the final two a mem sofit, thus spelling "Vashem."
Source: Jewish Chronicle, 25 Jun 1999, p19.

 
 
 
 

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