Monday, January 10, 2005

Where were you during the Haskala?

Both my grandfather and my wife's grandfather were typical products of the educational changes of the Haskala. They were incredibly fluent in Hebrew(able to argue successfully the conjugation of obscure verbs with any 7th grade teaching Geveret), ardent Zionists, college educated, and, in the case of my grandfather-in-law, took medical school notes in Hebrew(being newly arrived from Lithuania, he didn't know English at the time). They read voraciously, wrote poetry, and knew Tanach backwards and fowards. In religious practice, my grandfather was traditional, keeping a kosher home, identifying as Orthodox, but driving on Shabbat to shul when neccessary. My wife's grandfather was less personally religious, but also kept strictly kosher at home. Judaism, for both of them, was incredibly important, but more in terms of intellectual effort, Zionism, Hebrew language, culture,and community(my paternal grandparents spent more than 50 years each as Hebrew teachers), than in terms of the minutiae of observance. Not to say that my grandfather was not observant to a large extent, but I dont think he agonized over the particulars of observance, as is common nowadays.

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