Aaron has no information on the origins of the standard Israeli keyboard, but
it certainly wasn’t designed for comfort or efficiency—it literally gave him
carpal tunnel syndrome when he typed in 300 pages of Hebrew text one summer.
Only 37.29% of all letters typed are typed on the home row, 34.74% on the row
above the top row (which is a bit harder to type than the home row), and a
full 27.97% on the bottom row (which is even harder to type). Furthermore, the
left pinkie, a very weak finger, types 6.39% of all letter keystrokes, while
the stronger left ring finger types only 3.90% of all letter keystrokes.
In order to overcome the problems with the standard Israeli keyboard, Aaron
decided to create one based on the same principles of the Dvorak (English)
layout. As far as he can tell, there is no other proposed Hebrew/Aramaic
layout like this. There certainly is no Israeli standard layout based on the
same principles as the Dvorak keyboard. Aaron’s keyboard layout puts the ten
commonest letters on the home row (as opposed to a mere three on the standard
Israeli keyboard), resulting in 69.50% of all letter keystrokes being typed
there, only 19.66% on the top row, and 10.84% on the dreaded bottom row. This
should result in less overall movement and thus less wear and tear on the
Furthermore, among the 30 commonest digraphs (sequences of two letters) in the
first volume of the קיצור שולחן ערוך (an abbreviated code of Jewish law), 22
have the both letters on opposite sides of the keyboard (very ideal), 5 are
typed on the same side of the keyboard but with different fingers (not ideal,
but OK), and only 2 are typed by the same finger. For the same list of
digraphs on the Israeli standard keyboard, 13 are typed with each letter on
opposite sides of the keyboard, 5 are typed by different fingers of the same
hand, and 8 are typed by the same finger of the same hand--and unlike my
keyboard, some of this last category are typed with one letter on the top row
and one finger on the bottom row, the most difficult possible combination to
Aaron has endeavored to make it possible to type every Hebrew character
present in Unicode. Furthermore, under shift-option on the home row (showing
up as blanks on the screen capture), are the very useful bidirectional
formatting codes. From right to left they are: left-to-right embedding,
right-to-left embedding, pop directional formatting, left-to-right override,
and right-to-left override.
Aaron is not sure at this point he put the letters in all the right places.
He has made sure to make the strongest fingers type the most keystrokes, and
to make the right and left hands type about the same amount of keystrokes.
But he is not clear he did everything right with placing all the keys in all
the right places on their respective rows. Anyone with software for keyboard
optimization, please contact Aaron to help him improve his keyboard.
Also note this layout is not designed for Yiddish, Ladino, or any other
language which uses the Hebrew/Assyrian script, though no problem is
anticipated for Aramaic; variations on the Adelman layout may be appropriate