Help newcomers pronounce Jewish words

By Sarah Benor

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About

Kathy's friend is getting married and uses the word "chuppah" in the invitation. She wants to use the word but has no idea how to pronounce it. Is it HOO-pah? TSHUP-ah? khoo-PAH? The HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project wants to help by adding pronunciation recordings to the Jewish English Lexicon - an online dictionary of Hebrew, Yiddish, and other words used by Jews within English.

Kathy is not the only one who will find this useful. Over the years we've gotten requests for recordings from many people, such as:

  • Converts and prospective converts
  • Non-Jewish spouses, relatives, friends, and colleagues of Jews
  • Tech companies that wish to improve the accuracy of their voice recognition and auto-captioning software (a problem we’re trying to address from multiple angles)
  • Jewish organizations that want to orient non-Jewish employees to Jewish life
  • Jewish educators who want to teach about cultural diversity among American Jews
  • Actors portraying Jewish characters who need to learn authentic pronunciations
  • Christians, Muslims, and others involved in interfaith dialogue with Jews
  • Researchers who want to analyze Jewish pronunciation
  • Jews who want to learn how other Jews pronounce certain words (e.g., Festival of Booths: Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews might say "SOOK-kiss," while Sephardi/Mizrahi and non-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews might say "soo-COAT").

Once the recordings are added, the Jewish English Lexicon will be helpful for anyone who wants to strengthen their communication with Jews of various backgrounds.

To make this project a reality, we would like to raise $9,800 and find 36 volunteers to record entries. We invite you to join this exciting and important initiative. You can sign up to volunteer here, and you can donate by clicking "Give Now."

A donation in any amount will be helpful. $180 pays for 25 entries. If you give $360 or more, your name will be included on the donor recognition page. For $600 or more, Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor will give a lecture to your community on a topic of your choice (such as Jewish languages, Yiddish in America today, the language of newly Orthodox Jews, or Jewish English). $1000 or more: your name on a special section of the donor recognition page.

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