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German Traditional Synagogues

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It is the concern for authentic traditions observed over the generations which motivates us. More than sixty years have passed since the German government proclaimed its national goal of eradicating any trace of this illustrious heritage from the face of the earth.

We have been privileged in those years to see just the opposite take place. Heaven has helped our communities to successfully re-establish themselves in several countries of the Diaspora, most notably, in London and in New York, which have both developed thriving kehillas. However, Israel – today's largest center of Holocaust survivors – unfortunately boasts no such community, which carries on the distinct traditions sanctified by over a thousand years of loyal devoted observance on the soil of Ashkenaz.

Recently new kehilos based on the tradition of Ashkenaz were established in Israel. The very first in Bnei Brak, developed a large following and has eventually opened branches in Kiriyat Sefer, Jerusalem and elsewhere.

These synagogues were founded by 'The Institute for German-Jewish Heritage' (מכון מורשת אשכנז) and inspired by its Halachic-Historical publications.

Jews of German-Jewish descent are elated to have a synagogue available to them where the genuine Ashkenazi tradition is fully observed. Many people have been motivated to guard their minhagim through these Synagogues. The Machon intends to continue establishing Synagogues in other communities and to extend its aid and advice to German-Jewish communities around the world.

Local groups associated with our Institute are now in advanced stages of work aimed at opening synagogues in several cities of Israel. The means needed for establishing these new communities are enormous. Some of them are in immediate need of their own buildings to free them from the necessity of wandering from one rented place of prayer to another.

The Institute plans to broaden its areas of activity in the following fields:

Establishing synagogues throughout the world that will carry on the pre-Holocaust customs and character of Divine service of German communities. Offering architectural information as an option to build these synagogues along the architectural lines of the synagogues that were set afire during Kristallnacht.

The Sages of Germany

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For many years the Institute has collected scarce data about personalities and communities in Germany. These data constitute an invaluable source of information for researchers, students, authors, and all others who take a strong interest in this subject.

Being that the Institute’s database about religious tradition in general, customs and folklore, is the only one of its kind in the world, the number of people being assisted by it increases annually.

Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz is collecting biographical material on the Torah scholars of Germany. The Machon is computerizing its vast data base of material collected thus far. The goal is to greatly increase access to this material by interested parties worldwide. The stockpile will also provide the basis for a new series of complete and accurate biographies of our Sages, for a Concise Encyclopedia on this theme, and for a historically reliable youth series.

A multi-volume work on the Chasam Sofer entitled "From Frankfurt to Pressburg: The Roots and Influence of the Chasam Sofer's Ideology", is in preparation. The work is based upon rare, and previously unknown documents. It demonstrates that the roots of the Chasam Sofer's ideology are traceable to his native Frankfurt. Many new discoveries are revealed about his outlook and influence on subsequent generations, an influence still felt strongly today.

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 already been published. 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.

Melodies of the prayers

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Special attention is devoted to the musical aspects of religious life, the revival of synagogue singing, and of the rich religious music of German Jewry.

Ashkenazi melodies are very ancient, some dating back to the Maharil and earlier. Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz is collecting and reproducing, all the melodies used in prayer among the Ashkenazi communities.

Research and restoration of the rich religious music of German Jewry, with the aim of promoting its revival in existing and planned synagogues.

The music to be retrieved, studied, and published was actually used throughout Germany well into the Nazi period, till Jewish communal life abruptly ceased after Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938), when Jewish houses of worship were destroyed all throughout Germany.


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