The NHC's mailing address at the time was 270 W 89th St, New York NY, before the office had moved to Philadelphia, of course. This building is now the Heschel School, and is connected to the back of B'nai Jeshurun. Can anyone fill in the history of how this came to be the NHC office and how it ceased to be?
Would it make sense to resurrect a dead-tree journal like this today? Probably not -- that's what the Internet is for. But it's always amazing to see the ingenious ways that people communicated even before there was an Internet.
The introduction by editor William Novak says, in part:
The purpose of New Traditions is to provide an intelligent and personal discussion of contemporary Judaism. By "Judaism" we do not mean Jewish history, politics, nostalgia, literature or scholarship, although these concerns will certainly be discussed in our pages. What we have in mind, simply, is the theory and practice of Judaism as a religion. Our hope is that New Traditions will be a forum for teaching, interpretation, and imagination -- in short, as our subtitle puts it, for explorations in Judaism.
Listen up, those who would lump the recent explosion of independent minyan/havurot together with Heeb into an undifferentiated, substanceless "hipster Judaism" -- you are wrong. The media narrative is "This new generation of Jews is Jewishly engaged, but they don't belong to synagogues! Therefore, they must be creating a new cultural Jewish identity that rejects religion, and possibly rejects any content." Nope. It's actually the opposite. Like our predecessors who ran the NHC in 1985 and produced New Traditions, we are building independent Jewish communities because we want to see Judaism as a religion fully actualized, without the baggage that comes along with the synagogue-industrial complex.
The household names (defined as "people I've heard of") among the contributors to New Traditions #2 include Danny Siegel, Arnold Eisen, Julius Lester, Richard Israel, and Aryeh Kaplan.
I'll post more highlights after I read the whole thing. In the meantime, a few fun tidbits:
In an interview with Jacob Neusner, he says that "Commentary is the most destructive Jewish institution around."
"How to Give a D'var Torah", by Richard J. Israel, has been excerpted online, but these excerpts leave out a section on "Some Resources That Are Available To You", which reviews various Torah commentaries from Rashi and Ramban to Hertz and Plaut. A highlight:
In my view, many of the ArtScroll publications currently on the market are hopelessly pious and of no interest at all. I have yet to find anything they want to teach me that I want to know. They are so noble, high minded and earnest that it is hard to believe that they are written for real people. Because the series is such a good idea and in such a splendid format, it is a double shame that the product is so bad.