Publisher's Message: Judging Books by their Covers
Publisher's Message: Judging Books by their Covers
Volume 3 , Issue 3

Rabbi Meir says: Do not look at the vessel, but what is in it;

there is a new vessel filled with old wine and

an old vessel that does not even contain new wine.

Avot: 4:27

In April, 1988, Tikkun magazine's editor Michael Lerner ran an interview with then presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Despite Tikkun's new left politics, the interview could be seen, in many respects, as being critical of Jackson, in particular of his past treatment of Jews and Jewish‑related issues. Many people I know who had been reading Tikkun before that interview, abandoned the publication, at least temporarily, thoroughly disgusted that a publication claiming to represent Jewish ?interests? could provide further publicity to Jackson, however indirect. Despite the fact that Tikkun had had numerous articles before the Jackson interview that could have been viewed as equally offensive by that same group of readers, this particular article was seen as the last straw. The logic to many: ?If this kind of article was printed, these must be the views of the publication, and I don't want any part of such a publication.?

Were they right? Should a publication be judged by any single article it prints or be assumed to hold the views expressed in articles it chooses to print? What are a publication's obligations to print versus the? reader's obligation to read with an open mind? Can you judge a book by its cover?

Although every publication struggles at times with articles it receives <197> how will our readers view this? Is an article factually accurate despite its perhaps bizarre viewpoint? Are the views espoused halakhically sound despite the rather unique approach offered? <197> The Jewish Review has not, until recently, really been in a position to worry about these issues. Our copy, as excellent as we believe most of it has been over the past year, could rarely be viewed as ?questionable? or highly controversial within any reasonable circles and we, as a policy, have tried to carefully traverse the middle of the road on route to achieving our? own goals.

That, unfortunately, is the lot of a start‑up, ?barely making ends meet? publication, dependant completely on reader support.

More recently, however, we have begun to take on issues, pursue interviews, and solicit editorial copy that enter into some of the mine fields that currently beset Orthodox Judaism. Nevertheless, we would like to believe that we and our readers are up to it.

The Jewish Review is dedicated to publishing an intellectual Orthodox, open journal which has the freedom to be critical of the status quo in a positive way. Possible changes in attitude (as opposed to halakhic position) need not be feared, but should be considered and adopted when necessary. But will we, however, also print articles which reflect controversies with respect to halakhic issues? Our answer to this must be "yes," and the articles with regard to the controversy surrounding brain death are an example. Respectful debate has always been encouraged in Jewish tradition, and we at The Jewish Review are thankful that we are not in a position where we have to toe the party line; we have no axe to grind, no point to prove, no membership to grow. And we believe these are precisely the reasons The Jewish Review has begun to generate the enthusiasm and excitement nationally that we have begun to see. As one rabbi recently told us, ?It is the first Orthodox publication I can read without being told to dislike someone.?

I am optimistic that all this will be remembered in the future when we print articles containing views that are not necessarily mainstream; we hope that they will be understood to be the views of our authors or interviewees. If we, as a publication, have any view that we wish to make known, it will appear on this page as an editorial. Barring that, we would prefer that our contributors' voices be heard and that ongoing debate of all positions be encouraged. If you judge us ?by the cover,? without an open mind, you will never know whether the contents within are worth reading.

Harris Z. Tilevitz

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