This post is long in the making like most things I plan to do – that quickly become victims of procrastination. Things just hit a peak so I am sitting down to write this at a school bball game. 

A renewed interest in Minhag Aschkenaz is emerging in the broader Jewish communities and Yekkes outside WH. It is manifested in various forms such as, in new minyanim in Lakewood and Passaic, a Kolel in Eretz with a very robust webpage, three WhatsApp groups, a Google email by Professor Auman’s son in Israel, and several Facebook pages. I am not even mentioning my websites and social media among this, since I have very little minhag content on my site containing research or documentation. 

The minyan in Lakewood already has a periodical, as does the Kollel in Israel. The Whatsapp groups feature regular posts of Minhag-related shiurim from the Monk’s Shul in London and by the Israel Kollel. 

The Whatsapp group was begun by a Zurich IRG member living in England. While content on that group is posted by admins only ( I am one, but rarely post), he has since opened a second group as an open forum. The chatter is constant and the group is slowly making its way through all the old topics – and some new ones. Some of it is minutiae and some of it is quite informative.

For many of us who carry the guilt of leaving the Heights upon our shoulders or the collective worry for its future, the question arises: Where does it all lead? 

Furthermore, I have twice been accosted for even bringing up Minhagim by people who say, “Who cares about this when Torah im Derech Eretz is being forgotten!” 

They are correct. In pages and pages of discussion of every minute detail of Minhag and Mesorah there is not one mention of TIDE! These chats and pages will go on for years rehashing the topics of every week, and Yom Tov but never talk about the elephant in the room. Is it not a “minhag”- the method of Chinuch? Is it not worthwhile discussing the way Jewish education was approached?

Now, for the record, it is probably better that these discussions are handled by people who are in the field of Jewish education or who have at least studied the writings of Rav Hirsch and his opponents. On an open chat, such a discussion would only yield a bunch of predictable platitudes on both sides of the topic.

But that doesn’t mean TIDE should not be discussed in a relevant and intelligent way!

When I was a Bochur in the Ponevez Yeshivah, many of the English Bochurim would chide me for my Yekke background. (Most of them had Yekke grandparents themselves.) So I got them back. When they went home for Pesach break, I penned a letter to the local London Jewish paper and I laid down a Yekke manifesto and how the young generation could learn from it. I signed the letter “M Meyer, Yeshivas Ponevez.” They all saw the letter on their kitchen tables as I broadcast some pride right into their very homes!

I think in the modern milieu TIDE can speak to many issues that need improvement int he broader Jewish community, and it is not all about going to college. But bringing these ideas to the fore requires level-headed conversations and not knee-jerk accusations. 

Those who have accosted me for even bringing up points of Minhag have made the mistake of hurling the accusation at someone who is perhaps one of a handful of the laity to have written about this in an open forum- anywhere. I made a three-part video series wherein I brought together several scholars to talk their minds on TIDE. I raised the most relevant questions about its application today. And, I made a very fun and poignant video about how I saw TIDE implemented in WH. That video answered one of the scholars in the previous video who asserted that WH is not TIDE anymore. 

Additionally, I wrote a four-part blog post on the occasion of Rav Hirsch’s birthday expressing more analysis on the implementation of TIDE today. 

I have a robust collection of the Hirsch publications and those covering his life and those of his supporters and detractors. I have not read all of it (yet) but I have read much of it. 

I have attended the biggest Yeshivahs, leaned over 10 years in Kolel and attended college and two graduate schools along the way. Funny that I was yelled at recently by someone in a New Jersey suburb for mentioning the revival of interest in Aschkenaz. His complaint: Minhag is petty; TIDE is important. (I do not know of any initiative he has taken to advance TIDE, but I got yelled at.)

I have many more ideas which I plan on putting into writing. Yet I stand alone. No one has written on the application of Rav Hirsch’s ideas in the present except – perhaps- one or two of the essays in the book “Ateres Tzvi” published in the early 2000s. I can also think of two articles in the Kehilla’s Mitteilungen periodical that have appeared in the two decades since. 

But for all TIDE has to offer, it needs to be presented by those who represent a clear motive in improving Jewish life and worship. In my youth TIDE was most often invoked in opposition to extended or intense Limud HaTorah. But if TIDE is a Chumra, then it must exist as a better alternative and on top of, not instead of, advancing our community’s devotion to Torah. 

People who promote TIDE must be nuanced and level-headed. If they scream TIDE, one gets the sense that they have personal issues with other communities or other types of Jews and TIDE is only a means of expression. This will not help anyone. 

To say “Don’t talk about Minhag, only about TIDE…” or to say “Jewish History is unimportant, talk about TIDE” is a dumbing-down in the name of TIDE. 

Is all the Minhag chatter minutia? I am not the one to say. I know that in every other community in Judaism there is a focus on Halacha and Minhag. People are even keeping other people’s minahgim in our age of social media. Women in Teaneck are baking Challahs in the shape of a key, and people in Flatbush are flying to Uman. 

There is rumbling this week about the possibility of opening an Aschkenaz minyan in Flatbush. So for all it is or isn’t, third-wave Aschkenaz is coming to a neighborhood near you!

Third-Wave Revival of Aschkenaz

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