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First of all, I'm not Jewish but I love Judaism and feel a strong connection to the Jewish people and faith.

My question is regarding the Chassidic way of Hebrew pronunciation when praying and reading Torah. I've managed to teach myself Hebrew and can say many of the prayers in the Siddur. I know that the Hasidim and the various Hasidic dynasties from Europe have different traditions when it comes to how Hebrew should be pronounced. For example, the Hungarian Hasidim like Satmar and Toldos Aharon have their own way of pronouncing Hebrew in prayer and reading Torah. And the Hasidim from Poland, the Ukraine, Romania and Lithuania likewise have their own traditions when it comes to Hebrew pronunciation.

I'll give a few examples. Most Jews in Israel and around the world when praying say the prayers in a Sephardic or Modern Hebrew pronunciation. Like in the blessing, they say "Baruch ata" but the Hasidim pronounce it differently like "Burich atu" or "Boruch ato". I know some of the vowels are pronounced in a different way than they are in the Modern Hebrew or Sephardic ways of pronunciation. I'd love to know how to pronounce the prayers in a Hasidic pronunciation. I'm especially interested in the Hungarian Hasidic or Polish forms of pronunciation. I've not been able to find this information anywhere else online. If anyone is able to explain to me how the Hasidic pronunciation works and how to pronounce the Hebrew prayers in the Hasidic way I would greatly appreciate it.

So my question is: How do I pronounce Hebrew in the Hasidic way (in particular in the Hungarian/Polish/Galician styles like the Toldos Aharon, Satmar and Bobov Hasidim do)?

Thank you everyone. I'm sorry for the long, drawn out way I asked my question :)

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    Just so you know, these weren't originally Hasidic pronunciations but just various local European ones. The Hasidim for the most part are just the only ones who kept it up.
    – Double AA
    May 13 at 21:03
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Dejan and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    May 14 at 18:00
  • It is rather academic, but this article by Dovid Katz may be enlightening for you: dovidkatz.net/dovid/PDFLinguistics/1993b.pdf
    – Mike
    May 15 at 3:22

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As user DoubleAA has pointed out in the comments, the accent you speak of does not originate with Hasidim but rather with the greater Eastern European Jewish community. It became associated with Hasidim as they are the primary users of this accent today. With most Jewish communities being found in the United States or Israel, many Jews whose family came from those areas in Europe adopted a more common accent such as the various American Ashkenazi accents or Israeli Hebrew. This was not the case with various Hasidic sects such as Satmar (one of the largest Hasidic sects in the world).

You can read about the various differences between Ashkenazi accents here on Wikipedia.

I must mention there is no advantage to this accent over any other one, maybe unless one lived in a community where this is the common accent, or it was ones family's original practice. Some people suggest one receive permission from a posek before changing ones Hebrew pronunciation, although many say it is okay to speak Hebrew using any accent provided you and your accent are consistent. For the most part, every legitimate Hebrew accent is valid in its own right.

I will summarize the accent for you below. This is by no means standard or exhaustive.

Consonants are the same as in nearly every Ashkenazi accent. Alef and ayin do not make their own sound. There is no difference between the pronunciation of chet and chof. A tav without a degesh is known as a "sav" and makes an "s" sound.

Kamatz is "oo". Patach is "ah." Tzeireh is "ai". Segol is "eh". (Segol-Malei, a segol followed by a yud, is "ey".) Chirik is "ee". Kibutz/Shuruk is "ee". Shuruk/Melupem is "ee". Sheva is "ih".

Perhaps if you were interested I would make a video or recording of the accent. This accent carries over into Yiddish as well, and even though I use a Northern European (somewhat Litvish) accent for Hebrew, for Yiddish I use the Galician accent.

Hope this was helpful.

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  • Thank you, that was very helpful. And a video or recording of the accent would be great when you have time.
    – DejanR
    May 15 at 2:15

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