Growing up, I didn’t watch “Star Trek,” but I admit that I liked “The Jetsons.” Much of that 1960s vision of the 21st century has come to be. Recently, I asked some college students about what they imagined the future might look like, and they came up with instant travel, new forms of energy, brain cameras to watch our dreams, a cure for cancer. William Gibson, the novelist who coined the term cyberspace, said, “The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.”
As for the Jewish future, “Next year in Jerusalem” is a statement full of possibility. We end the Yom Kippur service and the Passover seder in the future tense with this wistful, longing prayer that Jerusalem will become a city of peace. It’s an affirmation that things don’t have to be the way they are, a hope that what we face ahead will be better.
Our forward-looking contributors include Stuart Schoffman, who writes from Jerusalem about biblical prophecies and their relevance to contemporary thinking, and Deborah E. Lipstadt, who reflects on what it will be like to teach the lessons of the Holocaust, when there are no longer survivors around to tell the story. Barry E. Lichtenberg takes us back to the most visible future of recent times, the 1964-1965 ‘65 New York World’s Fair. Eddy Portnoy brings to life a 19th-century Jewish seer who offered predictions (for a fee) on the Lower East Side, and Yehuda Kurtzer pushes us to think again about messianism and the afterlife.
Etgar Keret tells of his irrepressible father’s courage in trying to extend his life. Erica Brown looks to the challenge of self-invention — creating one’s own future — when personal growth is not only possible, but even expected in Jewish tradition. Sara Y. Aharon, whose grandparents are from Afghanistan, ponders what it means for an ethnic émigré community when there is no longer a Jewish community in their homeland, and there are no dreams of return. To add a young person’s view, we turned to Daniel Kaplan, a former correspondent for Fresh Ink, The Jewish Week’s teen publication, now poised at the beginning of his future. As always, Jerome A. Chanes has the last word.
For many years, I’ve been drawn to Mark Podwal’s artwork for its imaginative beauty. He says that “Irka’s Rose,” on the cover, is related to Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” (markpodwal.com). The pieces on pages 3 and 12 appear in “Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family,” forthcoming this season from CCAR Press. An exhibition of this art opens next month at the Forum Gallery in Manhattan.
It’s a pleasure to also feature the timeless work of artists Debbie Margalit, Yitzchok Moully and David Wander, along with archival photographs from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Wander’s paintings have a mystical quality (davidwanderstudio.com), and Yitzchok Moully (who is a Chabad rabbi) blends traditional imagery with a very modern aesthetic (moullyart.com). Jerusalem artist Debbie Margalit’s painting (below) evokes dreaming about what might yet be (artspacegallery.co.il).
“The Future” is the 27th issue of Text/Context, and I’m sorry to inform readers that this is the last. The generous grant from Keren Keshet that enabled us to create this literary and artistic supplement has come to an end. We greatly appreciate the foundation’s support of this endeavor to explore timely and timeless themes in a deep and diverse way.
As we look ahead, I have much gratitude to express: First, to Jonathan Sarna for inspiring this project, and to Gary Rosenblatt for making that vision real. To our partners at Nextbook, especially Morton Landowne and Alana Newhouse, and my colleagues at The Jewish Week, Richard Waloff, Robert Goldblum, Julie Wiener, Michael Datikash and the rest of the staff. A huge thank you to Dan Bocchino, who has brought great creativity and style to these pages. To all of our distinguished contributors for their brilliant essays and gorgeous art that have brought us two Rockower awards from the American Jewish Press Association. And, to you, our readers, for your enthusiastic and thoughtful comments. I look forward to opportunities to keep the conversation going.
Here’s hoping that the future brings peace and many blessings. Please stay in touch with us,