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Ore and let davven.™

Mail: lippomano@gmail.com

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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.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lipman, very informative and interesting post. What's your take on the current state of the orthodoxy, does the Internet play a role in synthesis?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

Hard to say, but it's not for nothing that certain circles don't allow people to go online. Though it's difficult to say if they'd still forbid it in case it wouldn't provide instant access to hardcore porn. My guess is they'd forbid it even if the 'net was limited to ASCII - simply because of "synthesis" dangers.

But another (?) aspect is that there's a lot of exchange and serious discussions going on on the 'net inside Orthodoxy. There are differences between, say, the Avodah/Areivim mailing lists, with their civilised manners as well as strict moderation on the one hand, and the wild world of jblogs, where ad hominem attacks aren't rare and occasionaly even turn into running gags on the other. But I've seen it virtually every day that people learn from others, get to see things - and maybe themselves - from a different angle etc. (I had to retreat from reading all the blogs and comments.)

With all his leitzones, GH's often expressed insecurity is a good example of this. I suppose, the world was easier for him once. Sadly, these good traits apply to rightwinger bloggers much less, which in connection with the undersupply with oxygen in their brains makes them believe they're all the more correct. - See, that wouldn't have come through on Areivim...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

It would be hard to argue that Dutch "mediene jidden" (Dutch 'j' = English 'y') thought in terms of orthodox versus c or r. In that sense they were probably comparable to German landjuden.

Most kehillas out in the provinces were not large enough that they could permit themselves a schism.

While Jews were tolerated (and after the French invasion, legally equal), the twin tendencies to one the one hand avoid the critical eyes of local goyim, and on the other hand, lessen the influence of the stads-joden (j=y!) over the affairs of a country kehilla, would cause a seeming uniformity and conformity (1).

Splits in local kehilloth, especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were more like office politics than rooted in differences of practice (2).

One element which I remember reading about detailed the consequences of offending local Jewish sensitivities as represented in the person of the local sjochet - the result, even for severly observant families, meant a well-nigh meatless existence (3).

Most mediene jidden have disappeared - the reconstruction of the community in the late forties was chiefly in the urban environment.

1,2,3: I'll reread on these things over the next few days, and twin-post details.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

The moment I sent you the link, it struck me I didn't mention Dutch mediene joden. Of course I didn't mean to simply comprise them under "Western Germany".

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 1:01:00 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Well, technically they more or less fall under that heading anyhow. With exceptions, of course.

One thing that I also remember is that the city fathers of Eindhoven tried to keep Jews out. I'll have to look up how that issue was resolved (either intervention by the house of Orange or the States General, I can't remember which) - but I know that there was some settlement in the surrounding areas by the late seventeen hundreds.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 7:16:00 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Starting with Jews of Eindhoven first. See here:

Comments are very welcome. Bear in mind that I may rewrite parts of it - at present I am dog-tired, and zipped to the eyebrows on caffeine, wherefore my writing may not actually be as brilliant as right now I think it is. Which I will realize tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen this in Rav Hamburger's work. He tries to show that there are other aspects of יהדות אשכנז beyond תורה עם דרך ארץ, such as minhogim and the Jews outside the large urban centers.

There are other differences between Western/Southern Germany and Northern/urban German Jewry as well, e.g. in pronunciation and some minhogim, in some cases.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 5:47:00 PM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

lipman - thanks for the this post. it helps me contextualize my maternal gradfather, who came from a small town in SW Germany.

Monday, May 08, 2006 7:11:00 PM  

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