One of the distinctive features of the Jewish Quarterly Review over the past seventeen years—from the time that the brilliant and dearly departed Elliott Horowitz and I became coeditors—has been our reliance on the mode of the forum to debate, revisit, and probe.
As much of the world expresses sorrow and solidarity with the Ukrainian people—and admiration for its president, Volodymyr Zelensky—the ironies of history abound. To students of Jewish history, it is a source of near incredulity that the same recurrent site of mass violence against Jews—from the Khmielnitsky massacres of the mid-seventeenth century to the brutal killing fields during and after World War I to the bloodlands soiled by Nazi murderers in Operation Barbarossa in 1941—is home to a fledgling democracy and an unlikely and inspiring Jewish president.
In April, JQR convened a three-part online forum to analyze the “Haredi moment” of 2020. The COVID-19 crisis and the U.S. presidential election highlighted both lingering patterns and new modes of Haredi behavior, especially evident in the broader public sphere. A few short days after the last of the three forum panels was posted, on Lag Ba-Omer (April 30), a tragedy took place at Mt.
2020 was an especially prominent year for Haredim. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis, together with the U.S. Presidential election, featured a much more visible and seemingly defiant public presence by Haredim and, concomitantly, brought an enormous amount of new public attention to them. This moment yielded a different face of Haredi Judaism than the quiet and sequestered enclave society of years past.
2020 was an especially prominent year for Haredim. The COVID-19 (Corona) crisis, together with the U.S. Presidential election, featured a much more visible and seemingly defiant public presence by Haredim and, concomitantly, brought an enormous amount of new public attention to them. This moment yielded a different face of Haredi Judaism than the quiet and sequestered enclave society of years past.
In recent years, Haredi Judaism has become a known entity and even a marketable brand. “Shtisel,” “Unorthodox,” OTD memoirs, and other forms of popular culture have simultaneously demystified and exoticized this form of Orthodox Judaism, transforming it into a media hit and source of intense and often prurient interest.
The year 2020 has been a transformative one for American society, but what is America becoming? And what role do Jews play in the changes underway?
Even as the country struggles with a pandemic and massive unemployment, many Americans have at the same time been newly awakened to racial injustice and economic inequality. Much of the change now underway has been tragic; some of it is hopeful; and the combination may yet produce a very different America.
One of the greatest treasures of Israel and of Jewish academic life internationally is the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. Recently, as a result of budget cuts and the Covid-19 pandemic, the library has announced that it will suspend public services and put its 300 employees on unpaid leave as of Monday, August 17. The many services that the library provides will cease, including the lending of books and teacher training, and there is great concern for the furloughed staff members and the larger circle of employees affected by the closure.
Earlier in July Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson unleashed a firestorm of controversy when he posted a quote falsely attributed to Hitler that claimed that Blacks, and not Jews, were the real children of Israel.
One of the core questions of the humanities is how can we know what we know. In the field of Jewish studies, one of the sharpest formulations of this fundamental epistemological question arises in the study of the Holocaust. Is it the case, as Elie Wiesel famously declared, that only survivors can really know what took place in concentration and death camps? Some scholars have flipped this question and asked whether survivor testimony can be deemed sufficiently reliable for historical reconstruction, especially on its own.