JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Definitions of Askenazi and Sepharadi #general


In a message dated 98-08-17 12:19:58 EDT, you write:

<< This means f.e. that jews of
Syria or Gruzia are neither Ashkenazi nor Sepharadi !
In the last years in Israel the term "sepharadi" is used to denote
all jews coming >from the Asia or Africa, but this is completely wrong.
Best regards, >>

No, Alice, it is not COMPLETELY wrong. We should be very careful before we
make such sweeping statements especially if they appear to shastize others.

There is a distinction in many areas between Ashkenazim and Sfardim in matters
of minhag and halakha: what is the proper method of kosher slaughtering, what
is permitted to eat, what is permitted on Pesach, how to write Torah and
mezuza scrolls, how to put on tefillin, what is the correct order of
prayers--and laws governing marriage, divorce etc. The distinction dates way
back, to some extent for over 20 centuries between the customs of the
Babylonian exiles and those who returned to Zion, and was further sharpened In
the 11th - 14th century CE as the laws were codified, and even more so when
printing made possible the wide dissemination of prayer books. Those in the
south of Europe, N Africa and the middle East adopted the Sefardi rules,
emanating largely >from the laws codified by the Spanish sages; those north of
the Pyrenees, the alps and the Danube valley basing themselves on the rules
promulgated first by the scholars of the Rhine basin and later those of
Germany and Poland, and to some extent, e.g. the pronounciation, influenced by
the Jerusalem, rather than Babylonian ways. (Ashkenazi Hassidim--who came
from Eastern Europe in the 18th century and are not to be confused with
Hassidei Ashkenaz who flourished in Western Germany in the middle ages--under
the influences of the Kabbalist of Safed adopted some modified Sephardi rites,
especially in the order of prayers, known as Nussach Sfard to distinguish it
from Nussach Sfardi--everything clear now? <g>.)
Some say that the Sfardim of Spain etc migrated there before the destruction
of the Temple, while the Ashkenazim of the Rhine Basin are descended >from Jews
enslaved by the Romans at the fall of Jerusalem, and brought to Rome in
chains; later, freed, they followed the routes of Roman conquests in Europe.

Ashkenaz is NOT the Hebrew name for Germany. Its morphology is clearly not
even Hebrew. Ashkenaz is mentioned as the name of a tribe descended from
Yaphet, son of Noah and was MANY years later, for reasons not quite clear,
attributed to the Rhineland area that was to become for many centuries the
center of Judaism in Germany. Sefard is a Hebrew word; its association with
Spain came relatively late in our history.

I think that's about all that henealogists need to know on this topic <g>

Michael Bernet

Bernet: >from Frensdorf, Bamberg, Nurnberg, Hirschaid, (Bavaria)
Königshöfer: >from Welbhausen, Konigshofen, Furth (S. Germany)
Altmann: >from Kattowitz, Breslau, Poznan (Posen), Beuthen
(Bytom)--Upper Silesia/Poland
Wolf(f): >from Furth, Nurnberg, Wurzburg, Frankfurt (S Germany),

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Our review of this message indicates that it includes
references to religious law, history, geography, theology and etymology
but very little reference to genealogy. It also sounds like a verbal
skirmish or perhaps a full scale war might be breaking out. So unless
there is a very learned response yet to come, we'll end the war before it

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