Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ashkenazi Jews Descend from Jewish Families in Germany

from the Open Siddur Project -Tefiloh Sefas Yisroel, a nusaḥ Ashkenaz siddur dedicated to the memory of the Bad Homburg Jewish community. Bad Homburg is not to be confused with Hamburg in Northern Germany. Bad Homburg is near Frankfurt.

"Most descendants of European Jewry including Ḥasidim are descendants of Ashkenazi families (with the important exception of Jews descending from the Spanish-Portuguese communities expelled in 1492 — the Sepharadim, and some other ancient European Jewish communities diminished during the Holocaust — the Byzantine Romaniote Jews of Greece and the Jews of Italy)."

Siddur Bnei Ashkenaz_Page_001_Image_0001

People often say to me, when they observe me keeping minhag Ashkenaz, oh I didn't know you are a yekke. And by that they mean, I didn't know your grandparents were from Germany. Well they weren't. But their ancestors were - perhaps their great-great grandparents or their great-great grandparents. Ashkenazi Jews trace back to Germany and before that to Italy. And before that to the Holy Land. In the Holy Land, Italy, and Germany the Ashkenazi minhagim were established under the guidance of the Sages of the Gaonim with whom the German and Italian communities were in close contact. In the time since, minhagim changed some except in Frankfurt and other German communities that held on to them. So the traditions in Frankfurt are not these oddball diversions from the mainstream. They were the mainstream and the practices of the ancestors of most Ashkenazim. They don't belong to the Yekkes. They belong to all of us.

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