Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sliding to the Right in Denmark in 1909.

Here is a fiendishly interesting article printed in The Reform Advocate (Oct. 9, 1909). This was translated from the German original in the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums.

This 'chapter treating of the history of modern orthodoxy' discusses the many contradictions the German (reform) writer perceived in the Orthodoxy of Copenhagen, combining the fasts of בה"ב with the singing of poems in Danish; confirmations of boys and girls, with 6 hours of kinnos on Tisha B'av; with the dropping of piyuttim and yekum purkan with the banning of umbrellas on the sabbath. Basically, everything which had been flashpoints in Germany seemed to have had no effect at all in Denmark. On the other hand, the writer perceived the encroachment of German-style orthodoxy. First kosher butter - who knows what will come next!


  1. Reminds me of American Orthodoxy today:

    Eating before davvening, cutting out all Jozeroth and other Pijutim, relying on great leniencies when putting up Eruwin, eating unsupervised milk -- but zealously declaring war on congregations which have no Mechitza, or count women in the Minjan.

  2. What the sam hill is a Schnodern?

    MG, it reminds me of every orthodoxy ever.

  3. JXG, Schnodern = to offer money for an aliyye.

    It comes from the Hebrew שנדר, as in:

    מי שבירך אבותינו ... הוא יברך את ר' פלוני בר' פלוני בעבור שנדר...

  4. R. Hirsch Chajes wrote that obsolete minhagim properly die a natural death. They fade away, rather than burn out (with apologies to Neil Young). IIRC he explicitly gave the example of pijutim, which had disappeared in the east without any battles.

  5. Wow, I would love to see that reference!

  6. See here pg. 25 of the pdf, right column, second paragraph.

  7. In Louis Jacob's autobiography, he refers to the Orthodoxy of German Jews he knew as unsettlingly 'Prussian.' You know, duty, Kant, etc.

    While that's a stereotype, one gets the sense that the deal with piyutim could have become such a major issue in environments that were more formal, more rigid and more uptight. That's obviously only part of the story, since at the outset the Reformers certainly did not perceive German Judaism as "formal."

  8. Every organization is rife with hypocrisy. Democrats (some) tut tut "sexual harassment" at Herman Cain, but ignore it with Bill Clinton. Republicans (some) tout the rule of law, but overlook it for illegal immigration. The frum (some) claim to follow tradition, but ignore tradition when it comes to inventing new chumrahs. The frei (some) claim to be interested in tikkun olan, but are happy to ignore injustice when it doesnt coincide with liberal special-interest politics.

    Dont make this political; I know people can nitpick with specifics of all of the above. But the point is: orthodoxy is just like any other movement or group. You have to pick and choose. Same is true as an individual. Hundreds of thousands of orthodox Jews go mixed swimming, watch movies they probably should not, and plenty of far more serious things too. It's really part of life. Every one of us is a hypocrite to some degree.

  9. Except meeeeeee!!!!

  10. In the shul I grew up in, yom tov piyyutim went away the day we switched from the old Philips machzorim to Birnbaum. Poof.

    In my case, mixed swimming is not a hypocrisy, but a stubborn holdover from my FFB upbringing; it was my frum grandparents who taught me how to swim, and a "separate" beach would have been an outlandish concept to them. But not to worry, my little vice is not being perpetuated by my children or grandchildren.

  11. Beach bum -- I study the history of the machzor, and I'm actually quite interested in when 20th-century synagogues dropped piyyutim. Please email me: I would like to know more information: What shul, what year, etc.

    Thank you very much.

  12. Beach Bum - I also go mixed swimming with no compunctions, I dont think it's a hypocrisy either, and even if it was, my whole point is that everyone engages in hypocrisy to some degree. It's natural. But you have to admit that according to strict shulchan oruch halacha against looking at women going mixed swimming and seeing almost any movie even PG movies, would be forbidden.



Related Posts with Thumbnails