Hebraicum is my refined adaptation of the FrankRuehl (= FrankRühl) Hebrew typeface. The latter was produced in Germany by Rafael Frank (who also designed Miriam — another famous typeface) and Otto Rühl in 1908–1910. It has been extensively used in Hebrew typography since then.
Hebraicum possesses many unique characteristics that no other computer font has ever had. Additionally, the cursive adaptation of Hebraicum (unlike many Hebrew italic fonts patterned on Latin oblique scripts inclined to the right) is correctly slanted upward to the left.
|The beginning of Genesis typed using Hebraicum. Click on the image to display a bigger version.
Early versions of Hebraicum did not support Unicode. In 2005, the last version of Hebraicum was produced. It fully supported the Unicode standard for Hebrew of that time. Henceforth, the standard has evolved to some extent. Nevertheless, I have been heavily using this indispensable font, and it has never failed me.
Hebraicum has all the routinely employed Hebrew letters, vowel points, and cantillation marks. That is more than enough for most of users. Challenges may arise rarely — if one of the few uncommon glyphs that were later appended to Unicode is utilized. In order to avoid such situations, I created the converter from Hebraicum to modern Unicode and vice versa. It is included with the font.
The last version of Hebraicum is also compatible with all previous versions. Thus, if one has a text typed in early Hebraicum pseudo-Hebrew, it will still be readable with the current version of the font. The converter can instantly transform such text too.
Download Hebraicum (1.29 MB [requires Microsoft Windows 95 or later]).
Below is the manual for typing with Hebraicum. (To set up the typeface, one should be familiar with Microsoft’s instructions “How to install or remove a font in Windows” [the manual and instructions are included with the font too].)
THE MANUAL FOR TYPING WITH HEBRAICUM
Copyright © 2005 by Dr. Raphael Polyakov
The Hebrew keyboards created for the Hebraicum font project provide comfortable and easy way to input Hebrew and Yiddish letters, vowel points and Masoretic accents, as well as some unique glyphs and characters used in Jewish typography. It is recommended to work with the phonetic Hebrew keyboard. Nevertheless, those who are accustomed to the Israeli keyboard layout will find its modified version included in the package.
The keyboard layout files of different Windows operating systems are often incompatible. Therefore, the Unicode input utility “Tavultesoft Keyman” (with its Microsoft Word support files), which is free for noncommercial use, is included with Hebraicum, inasmuch as the latter fully supports the Unicode standard for Hebrew.
In the pictures above, the common keyboard symbols are drawn in black ink. (However, some other characters are depicted in black too. For instance, ר with דגש, which is not present in Modern Hebrew, although it is found in the Bible.) The broad Hebrew letters often used in old manuscripts and early printed Hebrew editions to achieve even margins are drawn in red. The magenta color is applied to the Yiddish letters, dash, and Hebrew typographical characters. (The א״ל ligature, four-headed ש, final ה of the Tetragrammaton in Oriental Judaic texts, ל with the horizontal top, spikelike calligraphic sign for certain letters of the alphabet [בד״ק חי״ה], crownlike calligraphic sign for the letters שעטנ״ז ג״ץ, symbol marking the start of cantorial recitation in prayer books, and alternative plus sign depicted as קמץ with מתג.)
Magenta is also used for the special reversed letter נ found in the Pentateuch (Numbers 10:35–36) and Psalms (§107). Opinions vary as to how it should be depicted (ספר קסת הסופר סי׳ ט״ז אות ח׳ ופי׳ מנחת שי על במדבר י׳׃ל״ה), and its variants are preserved on the keyboards as well as both shapes of the reversed letter ן of בחרן (רש״י, רבינו בחיי, and מנחת שי on Genesis 11:32). This color is also applied to ו׳ קטיעה (Numbers 25:12), which is made according to the instructions of Rabbi Akiva Eger ([Eiger; 1761–1837] שו״ת רעק״א סי׳ ע״ה) and Rabbi Ḥayyim (Ḥayyim) Yosef (Joseph) David Azulai ([Ḥida; 1724–1806] ספר לדוד אמת סי׳ י״ג אות ו׳). However, there are other opinions about its shape, and Hebraicum possesses two additional representations of ו׳ קטיעה; in addition, the font has the inverted letter נ, although these three symbols do not appear on the keyboards.
Most of the Masoretic accents or cantillation marks (טעמי המקרא) are drawn in the pictures above in blue ink. They are inserted by pressing a necessary keyboard key while holding down “Alt.” The top row (from left to right) contains the symbols for קדמא [אזלא], שלשלת, קרני פרה, זקף גדול, סגול, פזר, רביעי [רביע], זקף קטן, זרקא [צנורית], תלישא קטנה, תלישא גדולה, גרשיים, and גרש. The second row (from left to right) is comprised of פשטא, דרגא, טפחא [מאיילא, טרחא], תביר, יתיב, ירח בן יומו [גלגל], מרכא כפולה, מרכא [יורד], מהפך, אתנחתא, גרש מוקדם, and דחי. The third row (from right to left) has the sign indicating the presence of שוא נא, עולה, עילוי, and צנור. (The Ladino symbol pointing to שוא נא is preserved in Hebraicum, but it does not appear on the keyboards.) מקף is located on the second from right key of the top row, מתג and פסיק [פסק; לגרמיה] are found on the last right key of the second row, and for סוף פסוק one employs the colon sign key.
Besides the characters already mentioned, the keyboards contain the low quotation mark used in Hebrew, Masorah sign, דגש, and upper dot. Except for the low quotation mark positioned on the “W” key of the modified Israeli layout, they all appear in the lower right corner of the keyboards. Some symbols (usually from the Microsoft PUA block) do not appear on the keyboards altogether. However, all symbols not included on the keyboards can be accessed through any Unicode-aware character map (such as the one in Microsoft Word 97 and later versions).
Many challenges exist with the computerized input of Hebrew, especially Biblical Hebrew. Even Microsoft’s massive font Arial Unicode MS (more than twenty megabytes [made by Monotype]) is poorly equipped for displaying Hebrew vowels and cantillation marks. In the picture below, the first verses of the Bible are depicted using Arial Unicode MS  and Hebraicum — regular  and italic . The advantages of Hebraicum are undeniable.
Nevertheless, depending on the system, one may need to do the type justification manually. (Albeit Microsoft’s Uniscribe Unicode script processor [usp10.dll] is responsible for that adjustment, the practical implementation of its functions is often undependable.) Therefore, the special zero-width symbol tool () and two sets of fixed Hebrew vowel points (positioned on the same keyboard keys as the regular vowels) have been included. These vowels can be accessed by pressing the proper vowel keys while holding down “Ctrl” and “Alt” for the centrally positioned vowels or “Ctrl” and “Shift” for the vowels shifted to the right side of letters. One may use these vowel points if Hebrew vowels and cantillation marks cannot be placed correctly onto a letter in the word processing program. In this case, it is recommended to type a cantillation mark first (followed by a fixed vowel sign) or employ the zero-width symbol tool.
The Hebraicum font is also unique in the way one can use it to enter simple Hebrew phrases in the reverse letter order (for example, into a text typed in a different language) without switching keyboards or worrying that Hebrew words may be displayed backward on the computers having Hebraicum. The keyboard layout for such typing (emulating the phonetic keyboard) is shown in the picture below. (Of course, the instructions in these last two paragraphs do not apply if one intends to produce a mere Unicode text.)