Hebrew Scrabble

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As usual, Selchow & Righter/Hasbro have messed up the tile distributions for yet another foreign language set. The figures below represent the values and distributions of the set issued by Spear's Games/Mattel, which is the official licensee for Israel. The figures in brackets are those of S&R/Hasbro, which was supposed to be a small release of educational foreign language sets for use in the USA only. As you may already have found out, from watching eBay, it's actually the USA sets that are sold the most, presumably to Jewish Americans; I suspect a significant number of these sets end up back in Israel. Nevertheless, if you are writing a Scrabble game for play in Israel it is definitely the Spear's distribution you should adhere to.

And just to confuse the issue, Hasbro's set omits the letter Kaf.

  Letter       Freq  Value  Spears Hasbro

א alef    -    6(4)  2(3)    
ב beth    -    4     3       
ג gimel   -    2(1)  5(8)    
ד daled   -    4     3       
ה heh     -    8     1       
ו vav     -   12(13) 1       
ז zayin   -    1     8       
ח khet    -    3(2)  4(5)    
ט teth    -    1     8       
י yod     -   10     1       
כ kaf     -    2(0)  5()     
ל lamed   -    6     2       
מ mem     -    6     2       
נ nun     -    4(3)  3(4)    
פ peh/feh -    3     4       
ס samekh  -    1     8       
ע ayin    -    2     5       
צ tsadi   -    1     8       
ק koof    -    3(2)  4(5)    
ר resh    -    8(7)  1       
ש shin    -    6     2       
ת tav     -    9     1       
BLANK     -    2(4)  0       

Thanks to Sam Orbaum (Israeli Scrabble Champion in English) for supplying the above info. Any mistakes with the images are mine! Sam tells me that Scrabble in Israel is played almost exclusively in English (by adults at any rate); the lack of redundancy in the orthography of the language and lack of vowels when written (similar to Arabic) means that almost any string of tiles can be a word; consequently the game is much less challenging and therefore the province primarily of children and learners of Hebrew as a foreign language. If there is a preferred dictionary for play in Hebrew, it is probably the one edited by Even Shoshan, but due to the lack of organised Hebrew play, that has no official standing.
Only in Israel...
Ask the Rabbi: Can I play Scrabble on the Sabbath?
Aside: did you know that the names of Hebrew letters are all valid words in English-language Scrabble play?
Return to Letter by Letter games, foreign Scrabble section.
Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro Inc in the US (formerly Selchow and Righter) and Mattel (formerly J.W. Spears) elsewhere.