Oh, Oy, Ow

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This past Shabbos, I attended a bar mitzvah where the boy’s 91-year old great-grandfather spoke. I nudged my sons to pay attention because the speaker, when quoting Hebrew, used an impeccable Lithuanian accent that is nearly extinct. Lithuanians pronounce the cholam vowel like “ay” (rather than “oh” or “oy”). It’s been years since I’ve heard phrases like “The Ribaynay shel Aylam” and “Tayreh”. Below is a synopsis and excerpt of R. Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger’s discussion of the subject. He is a partisan German-Jew but one of the few who openly discuss the variants within Ashkenazic tradition.

R. Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger, Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz, pp. 21, 25, 27:

Four pronunciations of the cholam prevailed among Ashkenazi Jews in recent generations up to the time of the Holocaust: two in Eastern Europe and two in Western Europe. The table below illustrates these four pronunciations in both English and German as well as in the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Lashon HaKodesh.

Region of DiasporaAccent in Ashkenazi pronunciationsAccent in German diacriticAccent in English
Poland, Austria-Hungarykomatz chirik – אָאִיOi[t]oy
Lithuania, Russiasegol chirik – אֶאִיAei[p]ay
Northern Germany, Hollandpatach shuruk – אַאוּAu[h]ow
Southern Germany, Switzerland, France, Latvia, England, North Americakomatz shuruk – אָאוּOu[g]o

…In Anglo-Saxon countries, the long “O” sound became the widespread pronunciation supported by the surrounding English language. After the Holocaust, however, many children and grandchildren of German Jews were subject to unwarranted ridicule for their pronunciation, and thus adopted one of the other pronunciations…

Those bnei Torah who were educated in today’s yeshivot do not conform to the Lithuanian cholam but to the Polish one. This comes to show that their choice of pronunciation is due not to an understanding of the subject, but merely the wish to follow their peers. They all chose the same yeshivish style which has become widespread only in this generation.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

52 comments

  1. > After the Holocaust, however, many children and grandchildren of German Jews were subject to unwarranted ridicule for their pronunciation, and thus adopted one of the other pronunciations…

    That’s okay. It was the same ridicule the German Jews gave to the Ostjuden. What goes around, etc.

    Putting that aside, I’m not sure anyone has yet given a plausible explanation as to why /oi/ became the yeshivish standard. I’m pretty sure it was at least in some part to emulate Europeans and to intentionally differentiate from the American (and/ or Mizrachi) pronunciation, but why davka Poylish? Just demographics?

  2. Readers interested in the Neo-Ashkenozic revival spearheaded by Rabbi Hamburger should have a look at Treasures of Ashkenaz ( http://treasuresofashkenaz.wordpress.com/ ), an excellent blog run by a knowledgable and interesting mensch.

  3. Hardcore Lubavitchers also say “ay” as in “pay”. The rebbe would daven Shacharis for the amud: “haydu…”

  4. Any comments on pronouncing the kamatz as “oo” and the shuruk as “ee”? My Galicianer uncle does this but I wonder how widespread it is.

  5. @Jordan This is a feature of Central (Polish) and Southeastern (Ukranian) Yiddish, and by extension, Hebrew. From what I’ve seen, the dialects differ a little in precisely how this sound shift works.

  6. By the way, the YIVO Encyclopedia online has a nice summary of Hebrew vowels in different varieties of Ashkenazic Hebrew: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Language/Hebrew

  7. Ha'reytze L'shakker

    If you were half the expert on Chabad those broadsides intimated you’d be aware that the Russian pronunciation is accurately preserved among the overwhelming majority of Lubavitchers (myself included).

  8. When my Yekke brother-in-law was learning in Gateshead Yeshiva, he asked the late Gateshead Rav, R. Rakov, how he should pronounce choylam. The Rav replied, “you mean chowlam?”!

    Your table notes that in southern Germany, they pronounced cholam as -oh-. However, in Frankfurt-am-Main, many used -ow-, I think because R. SR Hirsch, who hailed from northern Germany, used this pronunciation and his admirers sought to mimic him.

    In my experience, you still hear -ey- used in Litvish yeshiva circles in chu”l, but in Israel it has been completely eclipsed by -oy-, pronounced with rounded lips to make it sound even stronger and, to my ears, forced and inauthentic. Seeing that the Perushim of the Vilna Gaon came from Lithuania, I don’t understand how they completely lost the -ey-. Incidentally, R. Hamburger notes that the Vilna Gaon advocated use of -oh-, and R. Yaakov Kaminetzky would recite krias shema that way.

    I once davened from the amud with my Litvish pronunciation, and a Teimani gentleman came up afterwards and said that I almost sounded Teimani, as many of them (not all) also pronounce komatz as -o- (not -a-) and cholam as -e- (although closer to a segol than to -ey-).

  9. It’s interesting that the instinctual awareness of the distinctions between various Ashkenazic ‘ethnicities’ seems to have nearly died out, as exemplified by the homogenization of non-chassidic pronunciation. I was recently excited to discover that this instinct still lives on in some European communities – I recently heard from a twenty-something friend who grew up in Vienna that when they would play soccer in his not-particularly charedi school, they would sort themselves into teams of ‘Poilishers’ and ‘Ingrishers’. I found this fascinating – I don’t think there’s anywhere in the USA where it would even occur to 10 year olds to group themselves this way.

  10. J., you were “excited”? That’s troubling.

    The Encyclopaedia Judaica lists the Polish cholam as “y.” Tyreh? Is that a typo?

    And where does the standard American/Israeli “o” come from? The Israeli I can see coming from Sephardic, but the American?

  11. OK, probably more fascinated than excited.

  12. There was a strange phenomenon in Manchester, England. The general pronunciation was ‘o’ or ‘oy’, but the Talmud Torah taught ‘ow’, presumably under Yekkish influence.

    Thus meant that Jews of limited education or who only rarely attended shul, used a quite alien pronunciation. My female relatives in their 60s still talk about ‘making mowtzi’

    A leading 7-11 school in Manchester still teaches ‘ow’. This is usually tuned into ‘o’ or ‘oy’ at a Jewish secondary school, but if the kid goes to a non-Jewish secondary school it sticks. There is a fine baal korei in London from Manchester who followed this pattern, and he ‘ow’s with the best of them.

  13. I think that we need to search for the most authentic pronunciation based on ancient sources and then put it into practice. So Machon Shilo’s Rabbi David Bar-Hayim advocates. His pronunciation of Hebrew is largely like the Yemenites.

  14. Why does he list “toy” as the pronounciation of Poland for the cholam. That is not true, or at least that is not how yeshivas do it today. The sound is not “oy” as in “toy” but “oi”

  15. Shlomie, in Israel, non-Chassidic charedim tend to pronounce cholam as -oy- as in toy, not -oi-. This is not the case in chu”l.

  16. Ben Elton,
    Having lived in Manchester for a number of years, I don’t know what makes you think that the general pronunciation (whatever that means) was -o- or -oy-. True, Broughton Jewish taught -aw-, but I don’t think it was limited to students of that school. My children attended Broughton Jewish in the last 5 years, and they did not teach -ow-. Also, I don’t know what makes -ow- foreign. On the contrary, English pronunciation of Hebrew tended to follow the northern German model, i.e. -ow-. It persisted for longer in Manchester than in London.

    I have a friend who says -ow-, but his wife doesn’t. For the sake of sh’lom bayis, they have avoided naming any of their children with names containing a cholam to avoid any embarrassment…

  17. I’d suggest it is rare to find a Shabbos or Yom Tov baal tefilla (as opposed to an avel davenning on a weekday) in Manchester who uses -ow-. If BJ is no longer teaching -ow- I suppose it will die out entirely.

    The Great Synagogue in Manchester was German, but the bulk of the community is now Eastern European, either Litvaks or Hasidim. The persistence of -ow- comes from the residual and now extinct influence of the Great.

    London used -oh-, see the pronunciation guide at the start of the Voice of Prayer and Praise (ed Cohen and Davis, London 1899)

  18. NIRC yungerman

    Relevant Anecdote: As a bochur from a traditional home where I did not hear my father davening out loud, I was aware of the different Cholam traditions, but I did not have one of my own. I would alternate awkwardly and inconsistently between the O of my neighborhood’s Modern Orthodox shul (but not the other Israeli havarot) and the Oy of the yeshivos I attended. Unhappy with this clumsiness, I approached R’Yaakov Weinberg zt’l, told him of my confusion, and asked him which form was in the most correct, that I should make a point of sticking to consistently. He told me with certainty that I should pronounce it as “O” as in “Go”.

    And I can testify that when he was conscious of it, he pronounced it like that, e.g. for Aliyos. Of course, his standard conversational method of pronouncing things was the “Oy” standard.

  19. >The Encyclopaedia Judaica lists the Polish cholam as “y.” Tyreh? Is that a typo?

    No. In Cyrus Adler’s autobiography “I Have Considered the Days” he recounts how as a child he met another child who was a Polish immigrant (probably circa 1870). The boy told him something about the “cider” he was going to have, and Adler had no idea what he was talking about, until someone explained to him that the boy meant the Pesach seder.

    “It was here that I first me a child of Polish-Jewish origin and acquired a knowledge of the dialectic pronunciation of Hebrew which I never forgot. It was just before Passover, and this little child said to me: “Do you have ‘cider’? that being their pronunciation of the word seder (the home service for the Passover), to which I responded: “No, we use raisin wine.”

  20. In EY the younger generation of some charedi/Israeli wannabe mashgichim/RYs say “teyreh”.

  21. My mistake. They list *Hungarian* (“South-east Europe”) cholam as “y.” But your story is about a tzere…

  22. Hm, good point.

    Anyway, it’s all just transliteration. As some have noted in this thread people today, at least in America, do not say “oy” as in “toy.” And there really is no way to write exactly how they do say it, because that vowel is not used in English (“oi” was a good try). Maybe someone can IPA it.

  23. chaim,
    There is _no_ correct ancient pronuciation and trying to reconstruct it is a fool’s errand. Hebrew has always been pronounced differently in different places, even within Israel, as Sefer shoftim (“shibboles/sibboles”) proves. Likewise, the different systems of nikkud of the early middle ages reflected different pronunciations.

  24. Only hard core Lubavitchers (known as Gezha)and some BTs with a good ear use this pronunciation in the Chabad community. In the Chabad house I daven no one has ever used this pronunciation except myself.
    Of course anyone who heard the Rebbe speak either on radio(or o cable TV) , or in person was subject to hours of this type of pronunciation.
    Certainly all Litvishe Jews including all roshe yeshiva from Lita in the US spoke Yiddish this way .This includes Rav Shach, Rav Moshe , rav yankev, Rabbi Teitz etc etc rabbi Gifter’s yidish was leyle uleyla in Litvishe oysprakh, what a feat for an amerikaner Yid !!
    In the biography of Rav Shimen Skopf of Grodna, it is noted that after World war 1 some yeshivas in greater Lita shiftet their Hebrew pronunciation from ay to oy for whatever reason, but the riginal Litvishe pronunciation was retained in Yiddish. that was the way my rebbe rav Shimon Romm of RIETS spoke.I recall that Reb David Lifshitz spoke the same way in Yiddish. In speeches in Yiddish the Rav also spoke the same manner.
    Growing up in CT in mid century almost all Jews who were in our shul pronounced Hebrew and Yiddish this way.It was always sheychen ad mareym vekadesh shmeh!
    May I make a suggestion , people are fascinated with all things efardi (cooking , minhogim etc) they are getting interested in yekkische minhogim , Shvartz shabbes, wimplech etc, the Hungarians preserve their minhogim, yet most Modern orthodox jews in the uS are of Lithuanian ancestry , lets try to get back to Litvishe minhogim and our athentic lithuanian pronunciation.
    And while i guess few Lubavitchers read this , I respectfylly urge them not only to wear a hat like the rebbe and an Arrow shirt like the rebbe and socks like the rebbe , but to stop using oy and ow and speak Hebrew and Yiddish (if they even know Yiddish) like the rebbe with an ay. The Rebbe ahd a unique Litvisher accent from the Northern corner of White Russia(Vitebsk – Smolensk region) just a tad different than the vilner accent, of course to my galicianer and Hungarian brethern its all the same. Mahu (The Rebbe although born in the Ukriane the Schneersohns are Litvakes as evidenced by the Baal hatnyas nickname in Mesritz Reb Zalman Litvack )) Litvack af attah Litvak !

  25. >most Modern orthodox jews in the uS are of Lithuanian ancestry

    Where is THAT statistic taken from?? There are an overwhelming number of Polish, Galician, Hungarian, Czech, and Russian (not litvak) descent. Among others.
    (The fact that most MO davens ashkenaz is not because of ancestry- it’s primarily an adopted practice, at least in part because of the YI move away from shteiblach back in the day.)

  26. There are Teimanim who also use /ei/.

    But /ei/ and /oi/ have a major strike against them — they end with a closing in the back of the mouth. The eim haqeri’ah (the semivowel used when a cholam in spelled out) would therefore be a yud, not a vav.

    A second problem, one also shared by the other two options (as well as most Ashkenazi forms of tzeirei), is that these are all dipthongs. The /o/ for cholam (with possibly using /ow/ for cholam malei) is a single vowel.

  27. Micha,
    IIRC, the diphthong issue is why R. Hamburg ultimately concludes that /o/ is correct.

  28. Treasures of Ashkenaz

    Interesting post and discussion. Just wanted to chime in with a few comments.

    ” R. Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger…… He is a partisan German-Jew ”

    Actually he was born in Switzerland, then not long after he lost his father at about two years of age, he went to Eretz Yisroel, later learned in European Yeshivos in his teen years, then came back to Eretz Yisroel, etc., etc.

    So if we are going by where he was born, we could call him a Swiss Jew. That sounds better to the ears of most of us than German Jew, doesn’t it? 😉 Interesting how that works.

    If he is being labelled German based on his Ashkenaz background, then all Ashkenazic Jews can be called German Jews. 🙂 Anyone who says that they are an Ashkenazic Jew is actually, knowingly or not, calling themselves a German Jew in a way, as he has pointed out.

    Re being dubbed partisan – nowadays that doesn’t usually have a positive connotation, though purely speaking I guess it is not necessarily so. He is a great scholar who believes in the derech that he follows, based on mesorah, research, study…Are others who ardently follow other paths also labelled as partisan? When Rabbi Enkin writes of the Nitei Gavriel or Minhag Yisrael Torah for example, are they labelled as partisan Chassidic Jews? Are strongly and proudly Modern Orthodox Rabbis given the label partisan? Litvaks? Lubavitcher Chassidim? I don’t recall that. So I don’t know if Yekkes should get preferential treatment with that word. 😉

    Maybe a more neutral sounding description could be subtituted, such as R. Hamburger, the ardent advocate of Ashkenazic mesorah or practice, or as you described him a few years ago, “The great contemporary defender of German-Jewish customs, R. Binyamin Hamburger” (http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2005/11/triumph-of-textualism.html).

  29. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    Yemenites (at least some of them, including those i davened Kabbalat Shabbat [Gæbbolæth Shæbboth] with in Southern Jerusalem frequently when i was there) pronounce ḥolam as /ö/, a sound that exists in French and German but not in English. It’s like an “eh” with with rounded lips, so it sounds intermediate between “eh” and “o”.

    One of the reasons i thought it was interesting was the similarity of qomas and ḥölam to the Lithuanian komatz and kheylam.

    As the Litvaks say, gut kheydes(h)!

  30. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    micha:

    Just a phonetic nitpick — the semivowel IPA /j/ (English “y”) in Eastern Ashkenaz ḥ[oi]lam and ḥ[ei]lam is “front of the mouth”, not “back of the mouth”. /w/ is “back of the mouth”.

  31. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    The Encyclopedia Judaica article “Pronunciations of Hebrew” has a great huge chart of many of the pronunciations.

  32. R’ Steg (title included mostly out of kavod for RJL): The palatal approximant /y/ (IPA:j) semivowel is made by the moving middle or back of the tongue in relation to the palate, the /w/ made by the lips.

    The IPA:y sound (/ee/) is a long chiriq, not a yud. However, yud starts out with the mouth in chiriq position. Then, one moves the middle and back of the tongue away from the palate.

  33. Sorry, the IPA:y sound is the Scottish /oo/ as in food. Confusing English and IPA. American English doesn’t use the IPA:y.

  34. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    R’ Micha:

    True, however both /j/ and /w/ are defined by two characteristics — point of articulation and lip-rounding.

    /j/ is palatal and unrounded
    /w/ is velar and rounded (you can feel the back of your tongue rise towards the velum as you make it; if that co-articulation wasn’t there, it’d sound more like a bilabial fricative than the /w/ we know and love)

    We do commonly think of /w/ as being defined by the lip-rounding, but i was thinking of [j] and [w] in terms of their equivalent vowels [i] and [u]. See the chart here — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semivowel#Classification

    Vowels are defined as being “front” or “back” depending on where the closest point of approach between the tongue and the roof of the mouth is. /i/ and /j/ are “front” because the tongue approaches the palate, while /u/ and /w/ are “back” because the tongue approaches the velum/uvula. Lip-rounding then adds a further characteristic to the vowel produced.

    Feel free to overdose on IPA here — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet#Vowels — it includes a full vowel trapezoid as well as a tongue position diagram.

    bakhoved,
    Steg

  35. MiMedinat HaYam

    rav hamburger considers himself a real “yekke”, which consideration we should give him.

    (just as we should give rav haym solovechik that name. but perhaps RHS would be too confusing.)

    switzerland is a german state, as is czech republic and hungary, all of which have ties to r hamburger’s ancestry.

    and i believe he went to yeshiva in england. (distinctive british accent. maybe that plays a part in his accent.)

    lita was a combination of differing minorities. it only exists today in the fractious yeshiva world. which this article is trying to reconstruct.

  36. Treasures of Ashkenaz

    “S. on June 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    > After the Holocaust, however, many children and grandchildren of German Jews were subject to unwarranted ridicule for their pronunciation, and thus adopted one of the other pronunciations…

    That’s okay. It was the same ridicule the German Jews gave to the Ostjuden. What goes around, etc.”

    I recall reading that this phenomenon was reduced the more one went along the frumkeit spectrum, e.g. the Reform had it more intensely, Orthodox less so, the more sincerely frum the people, the less they indulged in such.

    “Putting that aside, I’m not sure anyone has yet given a plausible explanation as to why /oi/ became the yeshivish standard. I’m pretty sure it was at least in some part to emulate Europeans and to intentionally differentiate from the American (and/ or Mizrachi) pronunciation, but why davka Poylish? Just demographics?”

    Good points. I think that what is called Polish was basically the only option left standing after Litvak and various Yekke ones were removed from the running. Polish here is a broad category, meaning like people who spoke Southern Yiddish, not just people who lived in what we consider Poland. Just like Litvak didn’t mean only those who live in modern Lithuania.

    It should also be noted, to understand Rav Hamburger’s position, that he maintains that going more South in Germany, where the cradle of Ashkenaz Jewry was, along the Rhine, e.g. Shpeyer, Worms, and Mainz, the old way of pronouncing the cholam, oh, was prevalent, as other old minhogim were better preserved in those areas where the Jewish settlement had deeper and more ancient roots.

    An interesting sidebar to this could be gender differences in cholam pronunciation, see http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/7072/disparity-between-male-and-female-pronunciation-of-cholam

  37. MiMedinat HaYam

    “switzerland is a german state, as is czech republic and hungary”

    Seriously?

  38. Bemechilas kevod R’ Steg, I see my earlier aside came out wrong… I didn’t mean to belittle you, and I see it could be read that way. I was saying that out of my respect and friendship for one of the rabbeim behind your semichah, I couldn’t call you without your title in public, even though you didn’t use it.

    I’m going to stay quiet on the actual topic, though, because I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about.

  39. I had always felt smug in my Oys on yom kippur night when rhyming (in piyut Omnom Kain):
    Veyhee AdoyNOY
    Limishon LOY

    But then I saw in machzor hamfoyrush that RW”H changes it to:
    Veyhee Adoynoy ChaiLO
    Limishon LO

    I was unconvinced since I’m sure RW”H personally frowned on saying Oy. But hamfoyrush himself says even better:
    Veyhee Adoynoy LimishON
    Loy LmaAN

    So I had to do tshuva.

  40. MiMedinat HaYam

    shimon s —
    germany as we know it today didnt exist till till the prussian emperor (kaiser) consolidated the various german principalities / duchies / etc. (and till the borders of france, as we know it today). etc etc history lesson.

    but all these city states / whatever were what we call “ashkenaz” (as opposed to tfillah ashkenaz, which is derived from there), etc etc history lesson.

    so when rav hamburger calls “moreshet ashkenaz”, he means all those.

  41. Kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary were city states??? etc etc history AND geography lesson.

    If you look in some old machzorim, it says there Nusach Polin, Pihem (Bemin), Merin veUngarn.

  42. You still hear this accent in Eretz Yisroel.

  43. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    R’ Micha —

    No worries, i understood what you meant!

  44. Rafael Araujo

    “…I approached R’Yaakov Weinberg zt’l, told him of my confusion, and asked him which form was in the most correct, that I should make a point of sticking to consistently. He told me with certainty that I should pronounce it as “O” as in “Go”…”

    I noticed that all talmidei NIRC from the days of Rav Ruderman and Rav Weinberg zt”l, including bodel l’chaim my shver shlit”a, pronoun it as “O”.

  45. MiMedinat HaYam

    shimon s:

    i used the term city states as they were the majority of german “states”. of course, prussia cannot be considered a city state, either (though i believe it originally was.)

    if you want, you can even call lemberg (german name) the capital of eastern galicia, as german (known today as lviv in ukranian, and lvov in polish; nevertheless, it had a german status, and was called lemberg, including in jewish sefarim.)

    bavaria was definitely a german state, as was hungary. as for the various minhagim you cite, i refer you to the (famous) picture of the minchas eluzur making a bracha “she’natan me’hodo le-melech basar va’dam” to some obscure yugoslavian (today) king with no royal power, subservient to the austro hungarian emperer; he may have been a king (probably what we call a governor, today) but probably couldnt even order any of his subjects to be killed (probably the standard for saying such a bracha) without the permission of (presumably) emporer franz yosef.

  46. In the mid-1950’s, the West Hampstead synagogue Hebrew school in London employed a teacher whose surname started with Gold, but whose full name is unremembered, probably because his complete lack of any hair above the eyebrows led him to be universally referred to as Goldilocks. This teacher, whom I remember quite fondly (his two most favored things in the world were Jewish rye bread from NY’s lower east side, and the land of Israel) would go into paroxysms of anger if he heard the cholem pronounced either as OY or OW. He would make us repeat the O as in BOX as the correct way to say it, and all other pronounciations were designated as the lowest forms of dreck. I have been chastened ever since, and have adopted his pain whenever I hear OW, though I admit to being a little partial to the litvisher AY.

  47. The article says it is North German to say “au”, but where I grew up southern German Jews said “au” as well, as in the congregation Ohav Sholaum which is how they spelled it and how they said it, in upper Manhattan when this congregation arose in the 1940s and lasted until a couple of yrs ago on Broadway and 193rd St.

  48. MiMedinat HaYam,

    Hungary was not a German state. Period. You are entitled to your opinions but you are not entitled to your facts.

    I don’t understand the relevance of the ME story, nor am I aware of any such picture. Please link to it or list your source.

    There were only 2 “yugoslavian” knigdoms (Serbia and MN) before 1918, and neither of them was “subserviant” to A-H.

    BTW by your defintion Belz and Satmar are Yekkim.

  49. If you really want to learn Hebrew, find an old Yemenite Jew. that is the way to go.

  50. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    GF:

    Many Southern Germans adopted the Northern “au” pronuncation by imitating R’ Shamshon Raphael Hirsch. You can still hear people like that at the other Yekkish shuls in Washington Heights.

  51. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    Moshe:

    Yemenites preserved the greatest number of differentiations between sounds, but that doesn’t mean that they preserved Masoretic Hebrew as it was read 1000+ years ago. For instance, the Yemenite pronunciation of gimel-dageish as “j” (dzh) and quf as hard “g” is very unlikely to be original, especially since some South Arabian dialects of Arabic had a parallel shift of “g” to “j” and “q” to “g”.

  52. Steg and Moshe,
    Also, the yemenite vowels seems to be closer to babylonian than tiberian pronuciation.

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