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The term Yekke (adjective: Yekkish) (alt: Jecke or Yecke) is a generally jovial, mildly derogatory term used to refer to Jews originating from Germany or adhering to the Western-European minhag.

Today, very few Yekkes are proper German residents, but they remain in regions such as Switzerland, Eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine), and Luxembourg. A significant community managed to escape Frankfurt after Kristallnacht, and relocated to the Washington Heights region of New York City, where they still have a synagogue, K'hal Adass Jeshurun, which punctiliously adheres to the Yekkish liturgical text, rituals, and melodies. [1]

A group of Yekkes established kibbutz Hafetz Haim|Chofetz Chaim in the Gedarim region of Israel just south ofTel Aviv. Recently a few new Yekkish communities have been started in Israel by "Machon Moreshet Ashkenaz," and one of the leading communities is K'hal Adas Yeshurun of Jerusalem, which is running a "Nusach Project", a project of preserving the special Yekkish melodies.

There are a number of theories regarding the etymology of the word. The most famous is that it originates from the cultural differences in dress that developed between the more westernized Western European Jews who traded in the more traditional long coats for shorter "jackets" ("yekke") while the outer clothing worn by the Eastern European Jews was typically "longer" (such as bekishes). Another theory is that the word derives from "Yekkef", the Western pronunciation of the name "Jacob" or "Jack", which is different from the Eastern European pronunciation, which is "Yankef" or "Yankev".

The term is often used in a slightly derogatory or cynical manner, although it is also used as a badge of honour. It is used mainly in reference to the German Jews’ legendary attention to detail and punctuality. This sense for detail extends into the strict adherence to minhagim (religious customs, especially when pertaining to the synagogue service). Oberlanders—Jews originating from parts of Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia—are often confused with yekkes due to similar minhagim.


  1. Frankfurt on the Hudson: The German Jewish Community of Washington Heights, 1933-82, Its Structure and Culture, by Stephen M. Lowenstein. Wayne State University Press. 1989.

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Yekke. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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