This is where I hope we can exchange important information and thoughts regarding minhag, Jewish thought and German Jewish history. These are all topics that I enjoy and have had some exposure to. There are some excellent sites in the Frum blogosphere that handle these subjects with very capable academic authorship. I don’t have much […]

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If you are an expatriate Washington Heights person, like me, the times that you can most easily come for a visit are Tisha B’Av, Hoshana Raba, and Chanukah. These are weekday occasions.  In fact, there are several regulars that come only at these times.  While all the tefilos and yomim tovim are special in our tradition, I have long ago made peace […]

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  In American Yeshivah circles it is common for the individual to say “Yomar Na Yisroel/Beis Aharon/Yirei Hashem” and not to rely on the chazan. This is the practice described in Mishnah Berura citing Magen Avraham, O.Ch. 422. The Tur, however describes the Hallel as written in the siddur, where the Khal replies Hodu Lashem, and remain quiet for […]

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Yesterday I encountered a comfortably familiar explanation of Rashi in Sukkah 51b. In explaining what a “bimah” is, Rashi calls it an “almemar“. The commentary called “Hametargem”  (printed in the rear of every Vilna Shas) explains that this is “an old word used in all places of Aschkenaz, and has roots in the Arabic”. To my […]

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This year Rav Schwab’s Yahrzeit falls out on Purim Katan, as it was the year he passed away. I want to share a few ideas, memories, and teachings of the Rav zt’l that come to mind today. Since I was a young boy my father z’l would bring me to the Mishna Berurah shiur of the Rav on Shabbos afternoons. I was […]

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A friend alerted me to a post on the website forum.otzar.net that was written this week. I have it translated below and a link to the recording of a sweet and excellently executed documentation of this tune! Enjoy and have a happy Chanukah. Maoz Tzur – an ancient melody for the holy genius Rabbi Yaakov […]

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Among the people you find in a German Jewish community are some who are blessed with an appreciation for the Jewish calendar and its science. You will also encounter some who are “calendar savants”. These are the handful of people who remember when it is your bar mitzvah Shabbos many years into your adulthood, and […]

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!)  In an earlier post we discussed the wording of Roedelheim in the Areshes Sifaseinu prayer wherein during malchios it says “מבין ומאזין…לקול תרועותינו”, whereas after zichronos and shofaros it has it as “Lekol Tekiaseinu”. I later found a meideval Spanish Kabalist (Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla) (brought in the popular mussar sefer “Sifsei Chaim”) who […]

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I have gone through many papers sitting on a shelf, gathered through the years by my father z’l, all pertaining to our community and its history and personalities. Added to this is a collection that Mr. Joseph Katzenstein z’l had collected over many years- consisting of koleinus, newspaper clippings and some KAJ Newsletters (the “Kach”). […]

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Every Yom Tov as I reach the bracha of kedushas hayom in the shemoneh esrei I enter a world of safek. Most reading this are surely fluent with the pieces in the early volumes of Shoroshei Minhag Aschkenaz of Rabbi Binyamin Hamburger Shlita. In his first volume he brings solid support for the nusach aschkenaz to say “veyismechu vicha Yisrael Ohavei Shimecha” in all the Shabbos Amidahs. The nusach is described by Roedelheim as “Minhag Frankfurt”- but, actually […]

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Here is a story about a local kashrus scandal that did not involve the fault of any local people, but began at the slaughter house. It was told to me by the then supervisor of shechita Rabbi N. Bernstein. My father added the details at the end of the account. There were strict controls over […]

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