The Schmooze

After Ten Years, a Jewish Poetry Journal Bids Farewell

Those of us who have participated in the Jewish poetry scene in New York City over the last decade might argue that the journal Mima’amakim invented it. Though Jewish women and men have been performing and publishing poetry for many decades as part of a thriving New York poetry scene, Mima’amakim established the first readings and performances that featured not only poetry written by Jews, but also poetry with specifically Jewish content. On February 5 at the Sixth Street Synagogue, Mima’amakim will hold a publication party celebrating its last issue and 10 years of publishing innovative Jewish poetry.

Meaning “from the depths,” Mima’amakim took its name from Psalm 130: “From out of the depths I called to You, God,” and was initially positioned as a forum for publishing Jewish poetry and art with a religious orientation. Founded by Chaim Strauchler in 2000 at Yeshiva University, the journal arose out of an Orthodox milieu that envisioned the artistic process as a culmination of the divine act of creation. Its first mission statement narrowly defined the journal’s purpose as a place for “creative artistic expression of the Jewish religious experience within the confines of Halachah,” even limiting the content to exclude “profanities and sexually explicit materials.”

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After Ten Years, a Jewish Poetry Journal Bids Farewell

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