Just a few weeks after their departure from Michael Lerner’s Tikkun magazine, the bimonthly’s two former top editors have signed on to work for a relative newcomer in the field, the independent Jewish journal Zeek.
The announcement came this week from Zeek editor in chief and co-founder Jay Michaelson, a regular contributor to the Forward.
As the Forward reported last month, the two editors, Joel Schalit and Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, left Tikkun voluntarily, though all concerned said that the two had differences with Lerner over the content and direction of magazine.
Michaelson, whose magazine turns five years old this month, called the hiring of the two editors “a huge milestone.” Green Kaiser will be the magazine’s third in command and carry the title senior editor, while Schalit will be joining the magazine as a contributing editor.
In discussing Zeek and her attraction to it, Green Kaiser described what she sees as a paradigm shift taking place within Judaism. “The religion itself is changing,” she said. “It may be changing in a way that’s as radical as the shift from temple worship to rabbinical Judaism. The work I have been doing at Tikkun and what I want to keep doing at Zeek is to try and trace that shift.”
Part of what led Green Kaiser away from Tikkun, she and others have said, is Lerner’s desire to move Tikkun away from being exclusively Jewish and toward a more interfaith approach.
Schalit’s main focus at Zeek will continue to be what it was at Tikkun, Israeli politics and society. In an interview with the Forward last month, Lerner described Schalit’s Israel coverage as both too extensive and too critical for his taste.
Zeek, which appears in print twice a year and has a Web site, www.zeek.net, that is updated regularly, is one of a spate of Jewish-themed magazines to have appeared in recent years. The competition, Michaelson said, has helped Zeek refine its sense of purpose.
On its site this month, the magazine is carrying a rumination on Jewish-Palestinian discussion groups, an essay on Poles and the Holocaust, contemporary Hebrew fiction in translation, an interview with the director of the Elat Chayyim Center for Jewish Spirituality, a piece on the hip-hop artist Y-Love, an article about an organic kosher farm and a poem.
“We’d like to be the journal that a certain kind of smart Jew has to read,” Michaelson said. “In certain circles, you have to subscribe to the New Yorker. Our ambition is to fill that niche for the Jewish world.”