I would like to know the customs and unique details of what a Yekke Jew does and stands for. I wait three hours between milk and meat but do not know why I do and what makes it right. Can you speak after washing, or can you not but saying kiddish like saying "Amen" so that makes it okay? I know nothing else and would like to take on some new things.
Note: most of this answer is based on content on the KAYJ web forum, however some is based on my growing up in a Jeckisch family. Note further that unlike most of my answers, I am transliterating Hebrew in Ashkenazis.
As a general rule, we do not use minhogim brought in the Zauhar, which several noted Jeckisch rabbonim (including the Ya'avetz and the Chassam Saufer, who were mekubolim) held that it was a forgery and that it even brings heretical inyonim! So while others might refrain from wearing tefillin on Chaul haMau'ed, we do so.
We wear a tallis before marriage, although the exact age varies by family. In my family, we wait until bar mitzvoh, although in Frankfurt, it was apparently common for boys to start wearing a tallis godol as early as three years of age.
We also have a slightly different seder tefilloh, as evidenced by Tefiloh Sefas Yisroel, edited by R' Rallis Wiesenthal. Differences include:
- Brochos are all said in schul, and we begin with Adaun 'Aulom, rather than the berocho אשר נתן לשכבי.
- In most cases, where a nusach has been censored, we use the uncensored version (eg. למשומדים rather than ולמלשינים).
- We maintain the minhag of singing Pss. 144 and 67 before Ma'ariv on Mautzoei Shabbos (except for erev yontif or Ta'anis Av).
Traditionally, we wash before making kiddush, rather than hamautzi. We also wait three hours after meat.
Furthermore, on Shabbos, although this is not practiced commonly anymore, a star-shaped oil lamp would be lit for Shabbos and Yontif.
The recital of Piyutim on all Yomim Tovim + Arba Parshiyos + Shtei Hafsakos + Shabbos Breishis + Shabbos Chanuka + Shabbosos in the Aveilus part of Sefira and in Bein HaMetzarim + Shabbos Nachamu + Shabbos Bris Miloh + Shabbos Rosh Chodesh + Shabbos Nisuin - are all Yekkish minhogim. To clarify, this list includes Yotzros, Ofanim, the Meorah, the Ahavah, Zulasos, Geulos, Krovos, and Piyutei Elokeichem.
It is the yekkish mingog to recite Magbiah Shefolim after Shelo Osani Isho, to recite Malbish Arumim before Pokeiach Ivrim and to recite Asher Heichin Mitz'adei Gover before She'oso Li Kol Tzorki. The Yehi Rotzon in Birkas HaGomel Chasodim Tovim L'Amo Yisroel is recited in the singular. The verse Le'olom yehei odom, etc. that precedes Ribon Ho'olomim in most siddurim is omitted. (So is saying the Okeidoh!) Only the first posuk of Shema is said as part of Birchos HaShachar and not the rest of the parshah. Birchas Asher Yotzor follows Rav Popo's nusach - to complete the brocho with Rofei, Choli Chol Bosor Umaflee La'asos. Birchos HaToroh are recited just before Korbonos and it is considered as two brochos. Following this, Parshas HaTomid (and on Shabbos/Rosh Chodesh their relevant Musafin), Perek Eizehu Mekomon, and Braisa D'Rvi Yishmo'eil are recited as Mikro, Mishnah, Talmud. Kaddish D'Rabbonnon is not recited at all during Seder HaTefillah. Straight after the Yehi Rotzon that concludes Korbanos, Atifas Tallis and Hanochas Tefillin are done (on Ta'anis Chamishi this is at Mincho; on Shabbos and Yom Tov (but not Chol HaMoeid) Tefillin are obviously not put on. After this the Shamash or Shatz announces Sheskioh Yofo Bish'as HaTefilloh. Boruch Sheomar is sung by the Shatz.
More minhogim to follow.