(“Eretz” was the way many German Jews referred to Israel for short.)
The story of Torah im Derech Eretz in Eretz Yisrael is a long and complex history that is bigger than me and this little blog.
Dr. Marc Shapiro – in his book on Rav Yechiel Y. Weinberg zt’l- recounts the story of the Hildesheimer seminary considering a move to Eretz Yisrael in the early 1930s only to be dissuaded by the leading Gedolim from importing a “foreign plant” into the “Holy vineyard”. Many years later, an American-styled Yeshivah high school- “Maravah”- was banned by the Gedolim for introducing the mixture of Torah learning with secular studies. Because of this ban, it lost its choice of good applicants and resorted to taking less-successful bochurim.
As the state of Israel developed its own young history, German Jews were a very present and active force in society- across all denominations of Jewish observance. Yet as the decades moved on the country was always described with terms like, “Lita’i (Lithuanian), Mizrachi, Sefardi, Chiloni, chasidi, masorati, ” never “Yekke”. There is a small sub-category that includes the remaining few shuls affiliated with Isaac Breuer’s Poalei Agudas Yisroel (aka “PAI”). This would have to be the relic of our “banner” and the only proof that we existed there.
In 1939 a young Talmid Chochom, a graduate of the Berlin Hildesheimer seminary left Germany for Israel. Rabbi Yosef Avraham Wolf z’l. He would later open a Bais Yaakov in Bnei Brak under the direction of the Chazon Ish, and with time, this school would become the largest Bais Yaakov in that city- “Seminar Wolf”. Tomorrow, the 4th of Sivan is his Yahrzeit.
According to his Wikipedia page (Hebrew), he “left the ideas of TIDE after seeing the horrible face of assimilation and persecution and became a “Lithuanian style scholar”. Be that as it may, in 1945 he penned a small sefer called “Torah U’mada” (which is available to read online) where he explains to the layman (me included) the basics behind the ideas of metaphysics and some of its development.
I am having a pleasant time going through it now. I always wondered why those classically educated Rabbanim coming out of Berlin never tried to share what they learned with the broader Jewish community. Well, here is one who did!
He dedicates his book to his father, who founded a German-Jewish community and Shul in Petach Tikvah, and who likely did not leave TIDE ideas behind when he left Germany in the early 1930s.
He also acknowledges in his introduction the following three people:
His father-in-law, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Klein (former Rav of the fastidiously Orthodox Nuremberg Kehila, who had by then relocated to Haifa)
Rabbi Pinchas Biberfeld- A fellow student from Berlin Seminary who was a Rosh Kollel in Tel Aviv for some 30 years, and Rav in Munich towards the end of his life.
And Moshe Ravchon- another German Jew in Haifa who was a founder of the Yavneh religious school there.
He also mentions Isaac Breuer and Rabi Dovid Zvi Hoffman among his mentors.
It is truly nice to see a collaboration of these Yekke Olim from such an early era!