Jewish Living: New Jewish ladies mag is actually good?!
Okay, so this new magazine just came out. It’s called Jewish Living.
Over here at Jewschool we had a little debate about the magazine, because we got a press release about its launch from the publisher. And frankly, the release makes most of us cringe. Noteable quotables from it:
For the first time ever, a smart, stylish and thoroughly modern magazine will celebrate Jewish home, family and cultural life. *Jewish Living* takes the focus off of religion and places it squarely on the cultural. And in doing so, it seeks to acknowledge and enrich the changing lives of modern Jewish women and their families.
Er… wait, modern Jewish women don’t want to get all bogged down in stuff like religion and politics, so let’s give them recipes?
The concept came to Zimerman, a former senior creative advertising executive at Foote Cone Belding, one wintry Toronto afternoon while making what would prove to be a life-changing stop by a newsstand. “There was an abundance of red and green magazine covers touting the joys of Christmas. I thought ‘Where are all the dreidels? Where are the latkes?'” said Zimerman. “It wasn’t the first time I felt like the only boy without a Christmas tree, but it was certainly the first time I decided to do something about it.”
Wait, the magazine is in response to being jealous that there isn’t a bunch of Chanukah crap all over North American consumer outlets to the same degree there is Christmas crap?
Relocating to New York with his family, including wife and *Jewish Living* Creative Director Carol Moskot, Zimerman designed the magazine to offer inspirational style ideas and practical, how-to information on a wide range of topics. *Jewish Living* aims to make each day more meaningful, functional and beautiful for its targeted demographic of affluent and influential readers…. Headquartered in New York City, *Jewish Living* targets a well-educated urban professional woman between the ages of 25-54 with a median household income of over $125,000.
Ohhhhh, it’s about living a beautiful rich mildly Jewish life without being bogged down with religion or politics. I get it. How narrow-minded and ridiculous!
Or at least, that was the general take on the press release.
I actually got a copy of the magazine. My mom gave me a copy that one of the doctors at her office got for free. And it’s actually good.
In fact, it’s the only Jewish magazine I’ve seen lately that is not:
1) only for brainy insiders (Lilith, Tikkun)
2) only for hipster insiders (Heeb, etc) or
3) only for people already in the organized Jewish community insiders(all the local Jewish mags and papers).
So, it’s for the vaguely affiliated not so knowledgeable American Jewess — which is most Jews in America. (And don’t get your panties in a bind and start posting defenses of Lilith in the comments, I love these brainy and/or hip insider mags, but I am not most Jews. And sometimes, true to press release, I honestly don’t want to think hard.)
It’s actually about, for example, how to make Chanukah meaningful in a Christian world, from a perspective that is populist AND has traditional content. Instead of like, “Bake Chanukah Christmas cookies!” it’s like, here’s the blessing you make, here’s how to put the candles in, here’s how to change the focus from gifts to something meaningful.
Its first issue has a cover story “Change the World: Top 10 Ways to Make a Difference Right Now” with charity and activist ideas, and a Hebrew glossary of Jewish terms about it.
Tzedaka: ‘The Jewish concept of tzedaka involves both personal and communal obligations,’ says Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York. The root of the word is tzedek–righteousness and justice. Specifically it means that charity is not simply an individual good, but rather a wider commitment that no one be left behind…
I mean, they quote from a Chovevei rabbi! And quote male and female rabbis throughout the magazine, from all denominations. AND, a sidebar with Maimonides’ ten levels of tzedakah. Notably, the 10th suggestion on the magazine’s list is to start your own non-profit. This is great stuff!
It’s even a little edgy, believe it or not. One article was on three (adopted) Asian Jewish girls becoming bat mitzvah. Another was a piece on Jews and tatoos by a tattooed grandson of a Holocaust survivor; in the sidebar where different rabbis weigh in on whether other body modifications (nose job, breast implants, piercings) are kosher, Rabbi Lisa Edwards is quoted as saying, “I’m wondering why circumcision isn’t on this list.” Oh, and (yay!) quick and easy Shabbat dinner recipes. Which honestly, I will probably use.
My conclusion? Don’t judge a magazine by its press release.
(Also, just have to mention that with the tatooing article was an insert of fake tatoos with words like “pisher” and “bubeleh” and, in Hebrew, “kasher.” I will totally wear that last one to the Hazon food conference.)