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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yekkes that are neither Neo-Orthodox nor Reform - where is this going to end?!

Steg has an interesting post about the synthesis of Jewish and "general" life, where I raised the topic of rural Jews in pre-WWII Germany.

(Steg had asked: What's the difference between cityfied and rural Jews?)

Usually, Germany's landjudentum, or, country Jewry, is forgotten. People know about Reform, and that "the" Orthodox nearly vanished, only to be saved through Neo-Orthodoxy, or even more simply put, "by Hirsch".

What tends to be overlooked is that in large and densely populated parts of Western and Southern Germany (as well as Alsace, which was administered by Germany between 1871 and 1918), Jews stayed Orthodox in most cases, except for the cities, where the community in some cases stayed O, and in others went R, in which case usually a separate Orthodox austrittsgemeinde formed. Those latter were certainly influenced by Neo-Orthodoxy, but the villages much less so. There, in spite of assimilation in (rural) cultural and often in linguistic terms, the danger to be absorbed without traces or to run over to Reform was much smaller, and so was the need for a religious [sic] ideology that proves one can live in two worlds, or that there isn't a contradiction anyway.

People might go to the pub, confine themselves to kosher food like beer, and play cards with Christians. There was not much of a spiritual danger in that, because all of them were standing firmly in their traditions.

I find this type of German Jew to be much more typical than the Hirschian, and aggev orche, I also see parallels to the Oriental and Sefardic type both in their relation to co-territorial goyyim and because the concept of Orthodoxy hasn't really got a grip there, let alone C or R. People are shomer tora umisvot or not. They behave as a Jew should, or less so. But "orthodox" - shu haadha?

(Personally, though I certainly acknowledge the work of the Neo-Orthodox gedaulim, I see myself rather as pre-hyphenated or altorthodox, too.)