January 28, 2009

by Reb Yudel
The New York Times discovers The New Jewish Times

The New York Times rediscovers Yossi Klein Halevi's youthful magazine, The New Jewish Times. Unfortunately, and typically, the Times overplays the Sex In The City angle and gives short shrift to the actual content. Some day I might just haul the six rare issues up from the basement and post them online...

Not such a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, specifically in the downtown Manhattan of 1980 with its punk clubs and squeegee men and loose-joint dealers and $150-a-month sublets, a moment of literary and journalistic kismet was occurring in a factory loft halfway between the East Village and Chelsea.

The loft held the mismatched desks, layout tables and glaring overhead lights that constituted the office of New Jewish Times, a new and precarious monthly magazine. As for the staff, it was 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.

With their very first issue, those opinionated slobs 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. The entire cover consisted of an illustration of a mushroom cloud with the deadpan headline asking, “Next Year in Jerusalem?”

The Times might have noted, for instance, that fear of an Iranian-sponsored mushroom cloud looms large over most of Yossi's reporting these days--and in fact define's contemporary mainstream Jewish journalism. Read the article for yourself.

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