Projects in Progress

The Customs of Ashkenaz

The material gathered by Machon moreshess Ashkenaz has already proven a rich load of information for Torah scholars, researchers, authors, and ordinary Jews interested in the customs of German Jewry.

The major project is collecting, sorting, and setting down every one of the customs of the German Jews. Every conceivable source is being used, both in printed literature and manuscript. All the information is being arranged in order, and authoritative commentary provided, establishing the halachic basis of each custom.

Studies of all the varied facets of Ashkenazic custom are being prepared and circulated. Likewise a complete Guide to the customs of every branch of the Ashkenazic community will be published, with source notations and commentary. A companion Minhag Handbook for everyday use is also being planned.

A History of Ashkenazic Customs is presently in preparation. After an introductory discussion of the meaning of Jewish custom (Minhag), the development of Minhagim in Germany is traced, as is the emergence of divergent Minhagim in other areas of Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

The Yiddish Minhag Guide is to be published. Written four hundred years ago in Jewish-Deutsch by German Jews who had emigrated to northern Italy, this work was the faithful companion of several generations of Ashkenazic Jews. A modern edition will include a full translation into Hebrew, source notations, commentary, and facsimiles of the woodcut illustrations from the original printings.

The German Jew's Haggadah will collect all the customs of Pessach from hundreds of different sources.

The Sages of Germany

Machon moreshess Ashkenaz is collecting biographical material on the Torah scholars of Germany. The Machon is presently preparing to computerize the vast data base of material collected thus far with the goal of greatly increasing access to this material by interested parties worldwide. The stockpile will provide the basis for a new series of complete and accurate biographies of these Sages, and for a Concise Encyclopedia on this theme, as well as a truly reliable and educational Youth series.

The Chatham Sofer - an etching dated 1861

A multi-volume work on the 'chatham Sofer' entitled 'From Frankfurt to Pressburg': The Roots and Influence of the Chatham Sofer's Ideology', is in preparation. The work demonstrates, on the basis of rare or previously unknown documents, that the roots of the Chatham Sofer's ideology are to be found in his native Frankfurt. It includes many new discoveries about his outlook and influence on subsequent generations, an influence still felt strongly today. Particular emphasis is placed on Chatham Sofer's lifelong battles against Reformers and Neologists and his response to new streams within Orthodoxy.

The Collected Writings of R. Ezriel Hildesheimer have for the first time been gathered together from 'Der Israelit' and 'Juedische Presse', translated into Hebrew, and fully annotated.

Biographies of such eminent scholars as R. Gershon Ashkenazi of Metz, R. Issachar Berman Segal-Fraenkel of Ansbach, R. Aharon Teomim of Worms, R. Yitzchak Dov Seligmann Baer Bamberger of Wuerzburg, have previously been published, and others like those of R. Nathan Adler of Hannover-London, R. Anschel Stern of Hamburg and R. Yonah Merzbach of Darmstadt, are in various stages of preparation.

German Traditional Synagogue

Worms - the oldest synagogue in Europe

As part of this project, the Institute has opened an authentic German Traditional Synagogue, the first of its kind in Israel, 'Adath Yisroel' Congregation at the Mayanei HaYeshuah Hospital in Bnei Brak, under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Dunner, son of the renowned Rabbi Yoseph Tzvi Dunner of 'Adath Yisroel' London. Jews of German-Jewish descent are overjoyed to have a synagogue available to them where the genuine Ashkenazic tradition is fully observed in every way. It is the Machon's intention to establish synagogues in other communities and to extend its aid and advice to German-Jewish communities around the world.

Melodies of the prayers

The musical notes for Reading the Torah dated 1518

Machon moreshess Ashkenaz is collecting all the melodies used in prayer among the Ashkenazic communities. Some of the melodies are very ancient, dating back to the Maharil and earlier. The plan is to eventually record all the traditional melodies according to the yearly cycle.

Young People's Literature

The Orthodox book market is flooded these days with books attractively produced for children and adolescents. Unfortunately, many of these books are of doubtful value. All too often an author who knows nothing of history utterly distorts the view of his subject and the historical milieu in which he lived.

Moritz Oppenheim: "Cheder"

The Institute's Young People's Literature project is designed to provide biographies of leading rabbis and historical works on European Jewry. These works will combine easy readability with the standards of historical scholarship in bringing to life the stories of leading Central European rabbis.

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