The Shmooze

When Bad Hebrew Happens to Good People

By Josh Tapper

  • Print
  • Share Share

Getting inked isn’t abhorrent behavior for Jews these days. There’s HebrewTattoo.net, a translation service that generates thousands of hits each month, and celebrity tattooists like Ami James, the Israeli-born former star of TLC’s “Miami Ink.”

But Jews looking to inscribe their bodies with the language of prayer might be wise to ignore the cautionary (and disproved) pleas of their rabbis and mothers and check out a site called Bad Hebrew Tattoos. Managed by a 28-year-old Israeli web developer who goes by Typo Tat, the site criticizes and corrects faulty — and often hilarious — Hebrew tattoo translations.

The site’s purpose is to “raise awareness of the dangers of the Hebrew tattoo trend, to prevent people from making an uninformed decision,” said Typo Tat, who declined to divulge his identity. Most of the images come from online photo-sharing sites, but he does take submissions. Started just over a year ago, the site draws about 500 unique hits a day.

Although Typo Tat has no translation background, the examples he receives are often so egregious they’d make any Hebrew speaker snicker. While the site’s meant to have educational value, it’s difficult to suppress schadenfreude. Take the woman who tattooed the cringe-worthy “I’m For Free” down her spine, or the one who foolishly spelled out her chosen Hebrew phrase, “Child of God,” with English typeset. The resulting translation: dog fo dlich.

Tattoos are a matter of taste, but bad ones — Hebrew or not — deserve to be exposed. “I started my blog to warn and deter,” Typo Tat said.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Typo Tat, Translations, Tattoos, Miami Ink, Jews, Hebrew, Bad Hebrew Tattoos, Ami James

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.