Sunday, December 18, 2016

Linked Post: Jews in Wonderland - Seforim Blog

Jews in Wonderland by John M. Efron

This article discusses the interest German Jewry had in Sephardic Jewry. Key paragraph:

"One aspect of the great cultural transformation of German Jewry was the special place of honor it accorded medieval Spanish Jewry during its so-called Golden Age.  For the entire German-Jewish elite, the Sephardim were a cultural nobility and over the span of about 120 years, from approximately 1780 to 1900, what first began among community leaders as an appreciation of Sephardic Jewry blossomed into a rhapsodic and full-blown infatuation with the Jews of Sepharad.  In fact, the adulation shown towards Sephardic culture had a deep impact on German-Jewish self-perception, for the celebration of Sephardic Jewry led simultaneously to a self-critique, often a very harsh one, of Ashkenazic culture.  German-Jewish elites portrayed the Jews of Germany and Poland as insular, unattractive and primitive and in response, they felt that the time had come to rectify this and become like they imagined the Jews of Spain to have once been—worldly, alluring, and cosmopolitan."


  1. The problem with the post is that a distinction needs to be made between orthodox and non-orthodox Jews. To lump all German Jews together is wrong and not justified.

    See the comment of "Reality Check" to the post at the Seforim blog for more.

  2. By the way, Rav S.R. Hirsch zt"l criticized this tendency of some people in his sefer Chorev.

    See letter in the Jewish Observer of January 1964, p.27, at

    1. Thanks for pointing out that edition of the JO with Ra v Hirsch on the cover. Could it be though that RH was speaking specifically about pronunciation which has halachic considerations and not about architecture?