10 Things I Love About Antwerp

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– It is a Belgian city. I have already mentioned how much I like Belgium. As the second largest Belgian city, Antwerp obviously has all the features I enjoy there.

– It has the largest Jewish community in Belgium.

– Walking through the Jewish area of the city feels a little like being thrown back into the sheitls of 20th century Europe.

– People speak Yiddish there in the streets, in the shops; even Indian diamond brokers speak it.

– There are dozens of Jewish stores, big and small. For someone like me for whom buying kosher products is a bit of a hurddle race, walking into those stores felt like being a child in a gift shop.

– The young butcher who served me was friendly and smiling and made me feel like an old customer.

– The linguist in me loves to hear people switch from one language to another. It is not unusual to hear people use three or four different languages in one store.

– We bought a new Chanukiah for the next holiday.

– We have some friends there so it is very nice to get some insiders’ insights into this place (its history, habits, food, …)

– I learned a lot more about Chasidism and feel far less judgemental about it.

Shabbat Shalom!

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17 thoughts on “10 Things I Love About Antwerp

  1. “even Indian diamond brokers speak it” – reminds me of a joke:
    A Chinese waiter on the Lower East Side of NYC offers a patron a meal, speaking to the patron in perfect Yiddish.

    Patron goes over to the restaurant owner at the end of the meal and complements the owner on the waiter’s Yiddish. “Shh,” replies the owner, “he thinks he’s learning English.”

    “being a child in a gift shop” – kid in a candy shop? That’s how I feel in art stores.

    Shabbat Shalom!

  2. They speak Yiddish in the streets there? I’ve never heard Yiddish by anyone under 75 anywhere but New York, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem.

    I heard once from someone who’d been on shlichut in Belgium that since people in Belgium can all speak at least 3 languages anyway, learning another one isn’t considered a big deal and Hebrew is quite strong there in the (modern orthodox, I guess) Jewish community. The shlichim don’t bother learning the local languages and just speak Hebrew to everyone.

    • Yes, Yiddish is spoken in the streets, families, shops… At a wedding I attended a couple of years ago I met a woman who could speak 7 languages.
      Apparently Hebrew is used more in writing.

  3. Indeed Yiddish is used a lot here in combination with English (Anglo-American influences in recent years )and French words. There a lot of Chassidim but do not underestimate the modern orthodox community which is (relatively speaking) quite large as well, and quite uniquely I believe, have a lot of contact with they Chassidic co-religionists!

  4. Pingback: Review with Apples » Here in HP, Highland Park, New Jersey blog

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