I may live in Los Angeles now, but I still have people in New York who keep me clued in on important articles or conversations – one of them (ok, it was my dad) sent me this article about the New Jewish Times, an iconoclastic publication that used to exist in the 80s, but whose writers, editors and other staff members have gone on to become tremendous cultural influences in the 00s. Oh yeah, and Jewlicious gets a shoutout from author Sam Freedman:
Then eight months after it started, it ended. [...] In its seeming failure, however, New Jewish Times had, in fact, anticipated a later generation of edgy and hip Jewish journalism. It was the wheel that magazines like Heeb and Zeek and Web siteslike jewcy.com and jewlicious.com have reinvented in the 21st century.
The list of people who were involved in New Jewish Times is impressive and varied, and was described by Freedman as “a miscellany of gifted malcontents and sundry outsiders — Soviet émigrés, children of survivors, yeshiva rebels, CBGB regulars, ‘a bunch of slobs with overheated opinions,’ in the recollection of one alumnus.” He also notes that “they declared their independence from the norms of Jewish journalism, whether sober journals like Commentary and Dissent or the boosterish newspapers sponsored by local Jewish federations.” But for the fact that this group was of a cultural moment two decades ago, the description might just as well apply to the bloggers and “new Jewish media types” of this generation.
The New Jewish Times cover had been designed by Art Spiegelman; Jewish Week columnist Jonathan Mark was a former editor; NJT editor Yossi Klein Halevi is an acclaimed author and covered Israel for The New Republic; associate editor Israel Lemberg became the senior producer in CNN’s Jerusalem bureau. (Non-Jewy pop cultural aside: Candace Bushnell was the office administrator, and went on to write a book called “Sex and the City.”) And the list goes on.
Reinvention and rebellion against the establishment is the legacy of the next generation, whenever in time that “nextness” is. Context is something that we so often lack in the moment, but in retrospect, we can say, “that was the moment, those were the people, that was the project that changed everything.” From the people at Jewlicious – both here at the blog itself and the Festival – and in other organizations like Hazon’s fresh approach to Jewish environmental living and ROI’s community of Jewish creative minds from all over the world – not to mention the writers of Jewcy, PresenTense, Zeek, and Heeb among others – there is great enthusiasm for fresh perspectives on Jewish life. With a new generation of Birthright Israel alumni reconnecting to local community Jewish life and founding their own initiatives, who knows what the future holds.
I’ve resigned from PresenTense, and don’t post at Jewlicious as often as I used to, but I still feel that the next generation of leaders is emerging in this cultural moment, through blogging and Jewish innovation and creativity, and other modes, initiatives and venues that we’re only beginning to explore. I really believe that in twenty years or so, one of us will write an article about that experience that’s much in the same vein as this one, and we’ll have a chance to reflect on what an innovative moment meant in that moment, and what it has come to mean as we’ve evolved into the people we become.
[Re-posted, um, probably everywhere...]