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FROM THE EDITOR

s u m m e r s u m m e r

1 8

1 8

It’s aliiiiivvve!”

Notes from Underground

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Any excuse to quote from the Book of Brooks (Young Frankenstein) is good enough for me, but coming back from a near-death experience the JQ has plenty to shout about. We have a new design – smaller, easier on the hands and eyes, and hopefully more inviting to read. A new editorial team, which has worked like mad scientists to bring you articles to surprise, delight, provoke and enlighten – perhaps even make your hair stand on end. New business management, who’ve assembled the means that allow this journal to not only stay on its feet, but to walk, speak, sing and dance. Plus a marketing effort to make sure that when the JQ puts on the Ritz, you’ll hear about it.

an intention to produce a magazine you don’t have to be Jewish to read, or write for – or love.

At the same time, we’re still the JQ – still Jewish, still a quarterly, still aiming to fulfill founding editor Jacob Sonntag’s dream of bringing Yiddishkeit into English, infusing some of the wit and range of the continental feuilleton – a form whose masters included Theodor Herzl, Karl Kraus, and Stefan Zweig – into Anglo-Jewish journalism. Only you’ll notice we’ve become a bit more ambitious, ranging from Berkeley to Baghdad in this issue alone. Sonntag’s boast that Britain contained “the largest single Jewish community in the whole of Europe (outside the Soviet Union)” hasn’t been true for some time; today France and Russia follow the US and Israel, while Canada has overtaken the UK. Jewish geography, and as a result the JQ, has become far less insular, less parochial, and more – at the risk of cliche – cosmopolitan.

Or you could just turn the page and find out for yourself. We open with a fond farewell to Philip Roth, and close the section with a reminder of why Clive Sinclair still matters. In between Rachel Shabi talks art, war, and date syrup with Fourth Plinth sculptor Michael Rakowitz, David Herman takes a fresh look at Isaiah Berlin’s war, Momentum founder Jon Lansman schmoozes about Labour’s Jewish question, while Yael Marom and Haggai Matar disrupt the narrative on Gaza.

You’ll also find Dutch writer Ivo Weyel investigating his father’s life as an onderduiker (in hiding) during World War Two, Lauren Elkin puncturing the myth that motherhood is bad for writers, Lindsey Stonebridge on Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt, Stephen Zipperstein breaking the silence about Jews and communism, and Carla Hesse and Thomas Laqueur excavating the true story of Thessalonika’s missing Jewish cemetery.

In 1980 the Austrian Jewish writer Walter Abish – whose path from Vienna to Manhattan wound through Italy, Nice, Shanghai, Israel and Germany – published his novel How German Is It? You may well ask: How Jewish is the JQ? In a word: very. A slightly longer answer might quote the Talmudic precept Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Ba-Zeh (“All Israel – or all Jews – are responsible for one another.”) Which as a British-born rabbi I knew in Park Slope once told me can easily, by one of those transpositions of a few letters which drive so many Hebrew puns, be turned into “All Jews are to one another a delight” – in life a patent untruth, but as an aspiration for a magazine not bad. Yet another answer comes from our manifesto (see p.122), which declares

Not to mention brilliant book reviews, new fiction and poetry, upcoming art, theatre and films to look for, helpful advice from David Schneider, Simone Bloch’s invitation to the Underwater Café, a splendid polemic by my old friend Jonathan Freedland (an Arsenal supporter) and an eloquent plea by our mutual friend Maurice Glasman (a Spurs stalwart). Because we are not sectarians here.

In his first editorial Sonntag wrote: “At no time was there a greater need for clear thinking and searching analysis.” Which is where we came in – and how we mean to go on. Welcome! JQ

d.d. guttenplan editor-in-chief Judah

Passow

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j e w i s h q u a t e r l y j e w i s h q u a r t e r l y j e w i s h q u a r t e r l y

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