I often hear Ashkenazim pronouncing (or at least trying) Hebrew words in Tefila/Keriat HaTorah like Sephardim. It probably isn't only Religious Zionists but it seems to be only them. Where did the this minhag come from? I heard live from either Rav Schechter or Rav Gedalya Shwartz that even the Rav (Solevecik) and Rav Kook would pronounce the Ashkenazi style. Maybe this came from Rav Nosson Adler (the Rav of the Chasam Sofer) who used to pronounce in the Sefardisha style? This is quite interesting also for some more info. http://www.dailyhalacha.com/displayRead.asp?readID=1778&txtSearch=pronunciation

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    hmm, I do this. For me, when I was learning the alef-beis at age 20, I hit ayin, and felt like, "what gives? this letter has a pronunciation, right?" I added ches and kuf later. That's about the extend of my sefardization. I pronounce dagesh chazak also, though that's not sefardi per se, just correct.
    – yitznewton
    Jan 1 '12 at 1:45
  • See Aruch HaShulchan OC 62:2
    – Double AA
    Jan 1 '12 at 3:07
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    In my limited experience, most Ashk'nazim who pronounce things somewhat Sephardically do so only to the extent of fronting and/or lowering their kamatz and making their sav a stop (so, for example, they pronounce ches, ayin, and tzadi Ashkenazically).
    – msh210
    Jan 1 '12 at 6:29
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    @DoubleAA thanks for that reference. For anyone who wants to see it hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=7705&st=&pgnum=125 Feb 24 '12 at 16:26

From personal experience:

My father pronounced Hebrew like a European, and my mother's father like his Gerer roots. But then we were sent to local day schools, many of which came into being during a widespread Zionist fervor (religious and not religious) in the middle of 20th century. There was a big push by the founders of these schools to institute a Sefardic pronunciation. While I ended up following my father, just about all of my classmates (and my brother as well) still use a Sefardic pronunciation to this day.


My Hebrew teachers came from Israel, so they taught me how to read and write Hebrew as Israelis do.

I imagine those schools which do not hire Israelis to teach Hebrew, are also less likely to end up with students who feel a connection to religious Zionism.

However, I was also always taught that the Temani way of pronouncing Hebrew is actually the "most correct", and Israeli Hebrew is a mixture of all three, while also simplified to make teaching Ulpan easiest to the most people from the most amount of countries.

  • I'd be surprised if Israeli Hebrew has anything that remotely resembles Teimani Hebrew specifically - it seems it's mainly a mixture of various Sephardi pronunications and Lithuanian.
    – ezra
    May 8 '18 at 12:35

For the most part, the Sephardic pronunciation (with a few exceptions) is commonly accepted as the correct one.
For example, properly pronouncing ayin is not simply a matter of culture, it's the correct way to say it.

That is to say, and I hope I'm not insulting anyone, much of what is known as Ashkenazic pronunciation (though not all of it) is actually a mispronunciation.

I say "commonly accepted", outside of the hardcore, ashkenoizis yeshivot (and except for non-bi-lingual Americans ;-)).

Then again, most Israelis speak broken Hebrew, anyway...

I will relate that I know someone, very learned and studied this specifically for a long time – in his tfilla, kriat hatorah, etc, he is very careful both to pronounce the ayin, chet, and other Sephardic elements, and also the saf, kamatz, and other Ashkenazic elements.
The first because he came to the conclusion that it is the correct one, the second because that was his minhag growing up and his parents' minhag....
Although it does come off sounding very.... unique.

  • AviD, Much of Sefardic pronunciation is "mispronounced" as well. The language has been adulterated on both sides by the dialects of the countries we have been in. For example, do you know anyone who pronounces a reish properly (it is a "tooth letter")?How do you know that you are pronouncing the ayin "properly"? Also, true Sefardic pronunciation is not commonly accepted. What is commonly accepted is a Sefardic based pronunciation partially instituted by European Ashkenazim.
    – YDK
    Jan 1 '12 at 15:55
  • @YDK the way I pronounce, I believe is the correct way. My way is 90% like Yemenite. Jan 1 '12 at 15:58
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    Also, please bring a source that one should leave the tradition of one's parents (or the Rebbi one's parents sent him/her to) because it makes more sense.
    – YDK
    Jan 1 '12 at 15:59
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    @AviD, perhaps, but what source do you have that it is, in fact, the correct pronunciation? Because it answers how to pronounce an ayin (as well as other pronunciations)? European's also had a pronunciation for the ayin- as in Yankiv for Yaakov. You might say that wasn't the appropriate pronunciation, but I believe that you should bring a proof/source that your pronunciation, which is not even your tradition, is correct.
    – YDK
    Jan 1 '12 at 16:34
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    Well, of course he would say that ;-)
    – AviD
    Aug 15 '13 at 8:02

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