Ken (Chanoch) Bloom's Blog

30th July 2008

Looking for a place in WRP

I'm coming back from Ohr Somayach Yerushalyim on August 12 and looking for a place to live in West Rogers Park. I'm particularly interested in finding a basement apartment, boarding with a family, or a 1 bedroom apartment, but I'm also interested in roommate offers (though tired of dealing with turnover every few months). Anybody have any leads?

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3rd July 2008

Sepharadi and Ashkenazi

Since someone (who doesn't actually read this blog) asked:

There are definite cultural differences between sepharadim and ashkenazim. For one, the askhenazim have fractured into numerous different groups over the course of history. The oldest of the groups to split are Chassidim, but Reform and Conservative Judaism have mostly eaten up any idea of having a community that includes Jews who are not personally observant, but retain a connection to the Torah community and correct Torah values. Not that Jews who are not personally observant are a good thing, but it's better than institutionalizing kefira. I think the most recent split is between Haredim and Dati Leumi, Modern Orthodox, and black hat orthodox. The sepharadi world really doesn't have that split (though they may be inheriting it a bit in Israel, I don't know well enough to say). Most sepharadi communities have a range of observance levels and are welcoming to people at their level. Besides that, hiloni sepharadim keep some mitzvot that hiloni ashkenazim would never even think existed, like niddah. Sepharadim have different emphasis on some mitzvot, like a serious emphasis on kavod for talmedi chachamim, and kavod for the bet kenesset. Sepharadim also have a more authority based style of psak, while Ashkenazi psak seems to be much more lomdish. Sepharadim see less need for chumrot, though they have a few good ones of their own. (Gefilte fish, it seems, is the result of a specific chumra of the Rema in the melacha of borer on shabbat. On the other hand, I think one reason for the sepharadi emphasis on kavod for talmedei chachamim comes from a single chumra in the halachot: we have to stand every time the talmid chacham comes within 4 amot, unlike the Rema who poskins that only the first time is required. And I'm not even getting into the obvious things like selichot, pesach, and bet yosef meat.)

Sepharadim seem to read everybody's books. Ashkenazim, on the other hand, seem to reject or emphasize certain books based on the hashkafa they want to teach. For example, many haredi communities will have have nothing to do with Rav Kook, or Rav YB Soloveitchik.

There's a definite blurring of distinctions between sepharadim and ashkenazim in some communities. Many sepharadim in the US are influenced by the much larger ashkenazi community that surrounds them. I'm not sure how the cultural differences I have described would affect the family I hope to create, but even minhag differences are no small thing. Many Ashkenazi girls in the US do not wish to change from what they were raised with.

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