Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jewish class: Three Nusachim

In my Jewish class, one of the readings assigned to us, discussed the three nusachs. I blogged about an obnoxious lady from my class who insulted me during a study session. Something I didn't discuss (because I was intending this full post on the subject) was when she was telling the Muslim friend of mine about how there's two kinds of Jews Sephardic and Ashkenaz.

While we all think this and say this all the time, it is actually incorrect. Ashkenaz are what we think they are. True Sephardim have meshed with the Ashkenaz and those that we call Sephardic are actually oriental. If you don't believe me, go into and punch in a neighborhood like Syrian Brooklyn (that's 11223 zip code). You will see several minyanim listed as nusach "edot hamizrach." The translation for this is, believe it or not, Oriental. I guess it makes sense, if you also pull up a Bukharian shul, you will find they also daven this nusach. Bukhara is in central Asia.

I first became exposed to this whole idea of three nusachs a good long time ago when speaking to a guy that was converting while I was also still in the process. He explained to me that there are two Sefardic nusachs. This was a long time ago so I don't remember how exactly how he put it but it was something like one being nusach Sefard and the other being Sefardic. Back then, I actually went into godaven and saw this edot hamizrach label. I didn't know what it meant, though, until this class... Oriental... huh...


  1. GerInTraining (HayyimOvadiaPinhas)March 22, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    It's not quite right to say that the Iberian Sephardim have been blended into the Ashkenazim. Many of the Sephardim from Iberia ended up in Middle Eastern countries (N. Africa, Syria, Turkey), which is how the conflation between Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jewry happened in the first place.

    As for the two Nusahs, "Sefard/Sfard" is the term used for the Hassidic Nusah, of which Nusah Ari used by Habad is a variation. "Edot HaMizrah" has grown in popularity as a designation for the Middle Eastern tradition mainly because the use of the old terminology causes confusion with the Hassidic Nusah of similar nomenclature.

  2. Yes, I am aware of that. However, I was going by the fact that Ashkenazim are the ones who daven Sephardic. Furthermore, people don't make that distinction, what if someone didn't have any true Sephardi in them and they are from the Middle East? We still INCORRECTLY call them Sephardic because in the mind of an Ashkenaz, if you are Ashkenaz, you are Sephardic.