Saturday, July 23, 2016

Are Germans Cold?

"Gemütlichkeit  describes a space or state of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Other qualities include coziness, peace of mind, belonging, well being, and social acceptance." Wiki

Despite myths to the contrary, this a quality that is prized amongst Germans and quite common. No, Germans don't gush or hop up and down, but they can be quite friendly. I remember the first time I met Rav Schwab. He was seated next to me at a Shabbos table. He turned to me and gave me such a warm and dignified greeting. I never forgot it. I felt, well, respected, by this elderly, distinguished man.

At all the German kehillas that I have ever visited, whether it be in Washington Heights, Monsey, Jerusalem, Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit, or Bene Brak, I have experienced this Gemütlichkeit. It is real and its really nice. The first time I ever visited WH I was greeted as I walked up the steps, then again as I entered the building.

At the first event I attended at WH, I was kind of nervous where I might sit and with whom. So the event organizer, sent her son to sit next to me and he gave me this wonderful overview of the community for about two yours.

I went once to a vort in Monsey, German vort where I didn't know a soul. Didn't matter. We were chatting with people in no time. One elderly man who had been raised in Franfkurt was a particular delight. I have seen him in the shul afterward many times and he has always been so cordial to me. I told him I heard he studies Hirsch in German and asked him to translate a sentence. He invited me to his apartment where we studied a whole page together in the German. It was such a thrill.

I have been in many non-German shuls where I felt so alone, so unseen, same with weddings, vorts. I have to say that I have never experienced this at a German shul or event. There's no such thing as sitting at a table with a person and not talking to him.

One of the many myths of Germany Orthodoxy shattered, in my experience.


  1. An important point for the three weeks. Stereotyping is small-mindedness. Everyone should take upon themselves, in general, to look for new faces in shul, neighborhood, or beis hamedrash- and approach them.

    1. Could be some people just don't know what to say, but hello is always an option.