Hebrew Character Encoding for Internet Messages
RFC 1555

Document Type RFC - Informational (December 1993; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                      H. Nussbacher
Request for Comments: 1555                      Israeli Inter-University
Category: Informational                                  Computer Center
                                                             Y. Bourvine
                                                       Hebrew University
                                                           December 1993

            Hebrew Character Encoding for Internet Messages

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   This document describes the encoding used in electronic mail [RFC822]
   for transferring Hebrew.  The standard devised makes use of MIME
   [RFC1521] and ISO-8859-8.

Description

   All Hebrew text when transferred via e-mail must first be translated
   into ISO-8859-8, and then encoded using either Quoted-Printable
   (preferable) or Base64, as defined in MIME.

   The following table provides the four most common Hebrew encodings:

                       PC    IBM     PC     ISO
           Hebrew                           8859-8
           letter     8-bit         7-bit   8-bit
                      Ascii  EBCDIC Ascii   Ascii
           ---------- -----  ------ -----   ------
           alef        128     41    96     224
           bet         129     42    97     225
           gimel       130     43    98     226
           dalet       131     44    99     227
           he          132     45   100     228
           vav         133     46   101     229
           zayin       134     47   102     230
           het         135     48   103     231
           tet         136     49   104     232
           yod         137     51   105     233
           kaf sofit   138     52   106     234
           kaf         139     53   107     235
           lamed       140     54   108     236

Nussbacher & Bourvine                                           [Page 1]
RFC 1555               Hebrew Character Encoding           December 1993

           mem sofit   141     55   109     237
           mem         142     56   110     238
           nun sofit   143     57   111     239
           nun         144     58   112     240
           samekh      145     59   113     241
           ayin        146     62   114     242
           pe sofit    147     63   115     243
           pe          148     64   116     244
           tsadi sofit 149     65   117     245
           tsadi       150     66   118     246
           qof         151     67   119     247
           resh        152     68   120     248
           shin        153     69   121     249
           tav         154     71   122     250

   Note: All values are in decimal ASCII except for the EBCDIC column
   which is in hexadecimal.

   ISO 8859-8 8-bit ASCII is also known as IBM Codepage 862.

   The default directionality of the text is visual.  This means that
   the Hebrew text is encoded from left to right (even though Hebrew
   text is entered right to left) and is transmitted from left to right
   via the standard MIME mechanisms.  Other methods to control
   directionality are supported and are covered in the complementary RFC
   1556, "Handling of Bi-directional Texts in MIME".

   All discussion regarding Hebrew in email, as well as discussions of
   Hebrew in other TCP/IP protocols, is discussed in the ilan-
   h@vm.tau.ac.il list.  To subscribe send mail to listserv@vm.tau.ac.il
   with one line of text as follows:

                    subscribe ilan-h firstname lastname

MIME Considerations

   Mail that is sent that contains Hebrew must contain the following
   minimum amount of MIME headers:

         MIME-Version: 1.0
         Content-type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-8
         Content-transfer-encoding: BASE64 | Quoted-Printable

   Users should keep their text to within 72 columns so as to allow
   email quoting via the prefixing of each line with a ">".  Users
   should also realize that not all MIME implementations handle email
   quoting properly, so quoting email that contains Hebrew text may lead
   to problems.

Nussbacher & Bourvine                                           [Page 2]
RFC 1555               Hebrew Character Encoding           December 1993

   In the future, when all email systems implement fully transparent 8-
   bit email as defined in RFC 1425 and RFC 1426 this standard will
   become partially obsolete.  The "Content-type:" field will still be
   necessary, as well as directionality (which might be implicit for
   8BIT, but is something for future discussion),  but the "Content-
   transfer-encoding" will be altered to use 8BIT rather than Base64 or
   Quoted-Printable.

Optional

   It is recommended, although not required, to support Hebrew encoding
   in mail headers as specified in RFC 1522.  Specifically, the Q-
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