Gili Bar-Hillel

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Gili Bar-Hillel Semo
Gili Bar-Hillel.jpg
BornGili Bar-Hillel
1974 (age 44–45)
Notable worksHarry Potter
Notable awardsSee Awards
RelativesYehoshua Bar-Hillel (grandfather)

Gili Bar-Hillel Semo (Hebrew: גילי בר-הלל סמו‎; born Gili Bar-Hillel in 1974) is an English-Hebrew translator from Israel, best known for translating the Harry Potter series into Hebrew.


Bar-Hillel is the daughter of Maya Bar-Hillel, a professor of psychology at the Hebrew University, and the granddaughter of philosopher and linguist Yehoshua Bar-Hillel.[1] Her mother frequently lectured in the United States and as a result she spent a lot of time there as a child, learning to read English before Hebrew.[1]

Bar-Hillel studied at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and Harvard University, and received a Bachelor of Arts in dramatic writing and dramaturgy.[1] She lives and works in Tel Aviv,[2] and is married with three children.[1]


Before translating the Harry Potter series, Bar-Hillel was editor of children's books for the Israeli publishing house Keter, worked for the major Israeli newspaper Haaretz, directed plays, and produced radio programs.[3] She is a member of the International Wizard of Oz Club and has been from before she translated the Harry Potter series.[1] She has also translated books by Jacqueline Wilson, Diana Wynne Jones and Noel Streatfeild, and adapted an annotated edition of The Wizard of Oz for Hebrew readers. As well, she also reviewed picture books for the Israeli women's weekly LaIsha for several years.[3] She is currently editor of Children and young adult books for Utz Publishing in Israel.

Harry Potter series[edit]

Bar-Hillel began translating the series in 1999, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[1] Since the success of the series, Bar-Hillel has been described as a "bona fide Israeli celebrity" with a "nationwide" reputation.[1] Because of the enormous popularity of Harry Potter, her work has come under close scrutiny by the Israeli public, especially for any deviations from the original text. The translation process was made more difficult by not knowing how the plot would develop in later books, the gender of certain characters, and the problem of how to translate various issues that are not necessarily cross-cultural, such as references to food and religion.[1]

When the seventh book was released, Bar-Hillel flew to London ahead of the book's launch, purchased a copy and read it on the plane back to Israel.[4][5]

At the Jerusalem International Book Fair in 2007, a large audience gathered to hear her talk about the translation process, with fans elbowing their way in for autographs and photos. She told reporters: "It's ridiculous, this is something that never happens to translators. The attention I've received is because I'm translating Harry Potter. It's Harry, not me".[6]

Translated books[edit]

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Other books (partial list):


Bar-Hillel is the receiptiant of the Geffen Award for her translation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:[7]

  • Best Translation of a SF&F book (2008): Gili Bar-Hillel Semo for Translating the book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, published by Yedioth Books.

As well J. K. Rowling won for best translated book for the same novel (accepted by Bar-Hillel):

  • Best Translated YA or Children SF&F Book (2008): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, translated by Gili Bar-Hillel, published by Yedioth Books.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h When Harry’ met Hebrew, Cleveland Jewish News, Sarah Bronson, October 18, 2007
  2. ^ The Child and the Book 2007 Archived 2008-09-21 at the Wayback Machine, Boğaziçi University
  3. ^ a b Gili Bar-Hillel,
  4. ^ Harry Potter is here, Yedioth Ahronoth, Reuven Weiss, July 9, 2007
  5. ^ The Magic Continues[permanent dead link], Jerusalem Post, Molly Nixon, July 19, 2007
  6. ^ Harry Potter fans give a warm welcome to Hebrew translator, Associated Press, March 2, 2007
  7. ^ The Geffen Award, 2008, Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasty

External links[edit]