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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The end of Neo-Orthodoxy? A breakdown

You might have heard about the unpleasantness at R' Breuer's. In short, the present rabbi declared Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (RSRH) was wrong, especially in consciously embracing culture. (Of course, with a typical hareidist drey, he rather said RSRH was bigger than Moishe Rabeinu, but only He was able to implement His grand prophetic wisdom, while we are stupid worms and so we just have to do what the gedoilim tell us to, that is, the opposite. Or their clerks, de facto.)

Also, an honourable descendant of RSRH's criticised that the community's school system today is educating people to believe work is evil and one should have 13 children and kick one's heels in kollel.

The rabbi left the room at these words, and later made derogatory remarks about "lawyers and grandsons". This also shows the division between omniscient leaders and sheep, incompetent by nature. No space for Jewishly educated, independently thinking ballebattem, a formerly outstanding feature of German Orthodoxy. It fits the hareidist ideal and reality that people either abandon Judaism or are rabbis.

The actual surprise was that the rabbi openly said what he said, though.

Here's an off-hand attempt at a breakdown of German Orthodox communities today. Please correct me or add more in the comments!

R' Breuer's, NY: increasingly hareidified since the fifties or sixties. Now officially no more independent.

Other German Orthodox communities in the US: none left, or no more specifically Yekke (NYC, Baltimore).

R' Munk's, London: Not sure (anyone?), but rather hareidified, too.

Adath Yisroel, London: was minnek Paulen anyway, not Hirschian.

Gateshead, UK: Really, Gateshead had a lot of Germans in the beginning. Of course, today it's a metonym of hareidism.

South America, South Africa: Don't know - anyone?

Paris, France: One shul is using some German tunes and customs (not specifically Hirschian).

Strasbourg, France: same, and one according to the Alsatian custom.

Other places in France, especially Alsace: Don't know.

Basle, Switzerland: Main community is proudly following (some) German customs, but it's quite Zionist. Otherwise yes, you have old-style fully Orthodox and Jewishly educated businessmen and professionals. The tendency is to either go Zionist or join -

Basle's other community (technically not a legitimately founded Austrittsgemeinde), which is hareidified by now. Visually blackblackblack. Nice people - don't get me wrong. Hareidist rabbis since the war, now the son of the former rabbi.

Zurich, Switzerland: Main community is still borderline Orthodox, legitimate Austrittsgemeinde is about like Breuer's. Decided for a hasidist rabbi, then appointed the former rabbi's son. Last Rabbiner Dr. died in 1972. A third community, unhappy with both, was just founded, they're regular Zionist MO.

Lucerne, Switzerland: Well, this is where the current rabbi at Breuer's came from. Very hareidist, and the only community there, so other Jews simply left the community or the city.

Israel: Some shuls were founded, as a subset of hareidism there.

Germany, Austria etc.: Yeah, sure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though being no expert on the matter, I agree with you and would argue, though it goes without saying I am afraid, that 'frimm' communities in our days adhere to any odd agenda (e.g. 'zionist', 'hareidi') BUT simply holding Mitzves without any ideology involved.
Regarding Germany, though, I have to remind you of the very wonderful rabbi of Munich, who'd neither object to 'Hirschian Derech Eretz', nor jekkische Minhogim. ;o)

Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:58:00 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

don't today's "gedolim" think RŠR"H was a heretic? after all, he thought that evolution doesn't necessarily conflict with Jewish views of the universe

Thursday, June 26, 2008 8:23:00 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

There is an unfortunate tendency for the moderns (no, not the 'Modern Orthodox') to wish to be 'more Roman than the Pope' -- perhaps a conscious looking back to a past more quantatively than qualitively orthodox - and a retrenchment in the face of the 'liberal' modern world.

In lieu of embracing the methodology of Talmud-Torah, people embrace the minutiae. Which cannot be other than a mistake - the mental flexibility of Talmudic reason both applies to, and can encompass, the world. A sharpened knife must have more purpose than merely returning to the stone. I doubt that either the world or The Name have much use for a mind made rigid with mental binding - the world in any case more likely benefits from a mind made more broad.

Lakewoodian blinkers do not even well serve Lakewood. In the absence of certainties perspective is of greater use to both the individual and his community and tradition is better nourished by people capable of functioning outside of their own hothouse.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:01:00 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

And regarding Zionism, I consider myself a zionist. But in the same breath I must consider many of my 'fello' zionists to be stark raving bonkers.

Insanity - the great unifier of the world. Who knew?

Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

'fello' Should be 'fellow'. The plural of which is NOT 'felloheen'.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rav Mantel is not the Rav of KAJ.

מורה מורנו הרב, or, as KAJ pronounces it, מורי מורנה הרב, is definitely Rav Gelley.

Rav Mantel holds the position of assistant Rav. If only he would recognize this fact.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:55:00 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...


I wasn't judging Zionism, just having a look at Orthodox Yekke communities and whether they changed their former character. I certainly don't think that if a community is Zionist, every member of it is "stark raving bonkers". (As for a judgment, I'm afraid that such a long-term change often means that nationalism gets more importance and traditional Jewish values less.)

I Know Who,

there might be personal tensions or disrespect involved, but would you say R' Gelley really has a different stance concerning culture and education? Or even that R' Schwab had?

Really, I think this isn't a break in ideology but TIDE was replaced with hareidism long ago, probably done by the 1970s, according to what former RSRHY students say.

I wonder how this comes, because the same people who are still at home with Schiller and Beethoven appointed Litvish hareidists and sent their sons to Lakewood and Gateshead.

Friday, June 27, 2008 4:40:00 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Tayere Lipman,

Regarding Zionism and S.R.B.-ism, it certainly isn't all. But among those who are activists, for whatever cause, blinkers and a divorce from the real world are more common - and given that it takes treither utter conviction, fire in the pit of the stomach, or a complete disregard for the other side, to go out and wave a flag, pass out pamflets, or hold a sign (or, chasvesholom, scream outrageously), there naturally must be a greater percentage of the 'not quite ready for life on their own' among that crowd.

In other words, though here in the Bay Area the activist Zionist community is both small and incredibly diverse, I find myself desperate to keep a straight face sometimes....... some of us are more loopy than I normally find myself comfortable associating with. Which they undoubtedly think about me also (whether that is their divorce from reality or mine we'll leave unconsidered), and not all of us willingly acknowledge that the same situation is also present on the other side.

In short: more nuts than the average forest.

That may be merely Bay Area myopia.

But the literature for the cause that gets e-circulated rather confirms the nutstimate.

Friday, June 27, 2008 1:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shul is the dame word in origin as school, what? How appropriate and how excellent that it is the naming of a synagog then. Indicates honestly an activity that should take place in a place of worship.

Now, what precisely and exactly is hareidism? Root is hared, harad?

---Grant Patel

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 3:39:00 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

Yes, shul has the same (Latin) origin as school. IIRC, synagogues were called "schools" already in some Latin and Greek sources, though otherwise "assembly" is used in Greek, Hebrew etc. and in Sefardic and Oriental communities. (As an aside, Yiddish has a word shule = school as well, but that's a 19th-ct loan from German.)

Haredism, or Ultra-Orthodoxy, is a post-WWII lifestyle and ideology mainly based on aspects of Eastern European Judaism. The name in fact comes from "hared", meaning "trembling"; the group gave itself this name from the same word of the same verse as the Quakers, BTW.

A friend of mine called it "die zurückschreckende Orthodoxie" the other day, which I find very apt (shying, blenching, wincing).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Eisenmann's, in Antwerp, is a small shul, which follows Minneg "Ashknez Ashknez". I'm told that its rite is "Just like KAJ-NY, including the stuff which the Rödelheim calls Minhag FFdM."

Rav_Eisenmann was Raf Breuer's in-law.

Monday, September 22, 2008 4:33:00 PM  

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