Let's play Hebrew Bingo!

May 28, 2020

Hebrew numerals are often used to represent dates on the Hebrew calendar.

For example:

Dates on a Ketubah (Jewish Marriage Contract) are written with Hebrew Numerals, and so are dates on a Jewish grave stone.

I made this Hebrew bingo game to help my students (5th graders) build the skill of decoding Hebrew numerals. They were able to quickly master the skill and had a lot of fun doing it.

First, it helps to review the Hebrew alphabet and point out that each letter is given a value, and this system is called gematria. Here are the letters according to a simple encoding:

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
ק ר ש ת ך ם ן ף ץ
100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900

Next, it helps to observe how Hebrew numerals work. For Bingo we only need to focus on the numbers 1 though 75. The numerals are pretty straightforward between 1-10, by tens 10-100, and by hundreds 100-900. The tricky parts are between, and there are a couple of gotchas to watch out for.

So for example, the numbers 21-29 are:

כ״א כ״ב כ״ג כ״ד כ״ה כ״ו כ״ז כ״ח כ״ט
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

It’s easy to observe the pattern there, that it is the tens value followed by the gershayim mark ״ and the ones value.

The gotchas live in the numbers between 11-19:

י״א י״ב י״ג י״ד ט״ו ט״ז י״ז י״ח י״ט
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Notice the numbers for 15 and 16 are slightly different than the earlier pattern, however their sum still equals the same amount. These forms are avoided because the combinations of yud with hey and yud with vav are too similar to The Holy Name.

Now that these gotchas are pointed out, it’s time to play.

Navigate to this page and start adding players by their names.

When you add a player, their name will appear below with a link to their bingo sheet. Copy the link and send it to the player by email or another method.

Once all the players are ready to play, click Pick Number! to pick a bingo number from the hat. If the player has the number, they can click on their bingo sheet to mark it.

When a player gets bingo and calls it out, a gold star ⭐ should appear next to their name to indicate that they won.

Click Reset Game to reset the hat and play again.

That’s it, I hope you enjoy the game. Please leave any feedback in the comments below.

© 2020, Oren Fromberg