There are two different Hebrew pronunciation systems in use today: one common to Jews of Europe and one common to Jews from the Mediterranean. This article is reprinted with permission from Aleph Isn’t Tough: An Introduction to Hebrew for Adults by Linda Motzkin published by the UAHC press.
There are two different systems of Hebrew pronunciation encountered today: Ashkenazic and Sephardic. The Ashkenazic pronunciation was used by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe, in countries such as Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. The Sephardic pronunciation was used by the Jews of the Mediterranean regions, including Spain, Greece, and North Africa.
Until the middle of the 20th century, most American synagogues used the Ashkenazic Hebrew pronunciation, as the majority of American Jews were of Ashkenazic descent. After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, however, there was a gradual shift in American congregations toward using Sephardic Hebrew, since that is the standard pronunciation used in Israel…. One can still hear both Ashkenazic and Sephardic pronunciations used when referring to certain holidays, prayers, or lifecycle events, as in the following examples. (The accented syllable is written in bold letters)
Pronounced: seh-FAR-dik, Origin: Hebrew, describing Jews descending from the Jews of Spain.