Some Sources on the Western Ashkenazic Holekraysh (Hollekreisch, Holekrash, etc)

Note: The following elementary list of academic studies of the old Western Ashkenazic Holekraysh (Holekreisch, Holekrash, Hol-Kreis, etc) is for a first orientation only. Please note that for descriptions and texts of the ceremony itself as seen and used by those who practiced it for centuries, it is necessary to survey a large corpus of Western Ashkenazic prayer books up to the 19th century (and occasionally reprinted in the 20th). As ever it is important to consider the synchronic cherished custom within older Western Ashkenaz separately from the many diachronic debates about its origins, etymologies, and sources. When searching in (partially) text-searchable libraries (e.g. in the Jewish alphabet please be sure to search a variety of spellings (e.g. חול קרייז ,הול קרייש ,חול קרייש and others).
Dovid Katz (Jan. 2023)

  1. The classic study is Alfred Landau’s “Hollekreisch” in Ztschr. Ver. f. Volkskunde, IX (1899), pp. 72-77 [in German]. Online information.

  2. Comments by Ber Borokhov, pp. 213-214, republished in Nakhmen Mayzl’s 1966 edition, Ber Borokhov, Sprakh-forshung un literatur-geshikhte (Tel Aviv 1966) [in Yiddish]. Online

  3. Pages 41-43 of Joshua Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstitution (University of Pennsylvania Press 2004 [1939]. Online.

  4. P. 86 of Edgar R. Samuel’s review of Hermann Pollack, Jewish Folkways in Germanic Lands (1648-1806), published in Folklore (vol. 83.1, Spring 1972, pp. 85-87). Online.

  5. Jill Hammer, “Holle’s Cry: Unearthing a Birth Goddess in a German-Jewish Naming Ceremony” in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues (No. 9, 2005 pp. 62-87. Temporarily online.

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