Smart and/or Funny

Forward originally “Forverts,” began life as a socialist Yiddish paper edited by the legendary Abraham Cahan, was reborn in English under the aegis of the indomitable neocon Seth Lipsky, and now marches to points unknown under the direction of J.J. Goldberg, a bit more balanced than both of his predecessors. But the Forward retains the wit, excellent writing, and solid reporting that set it apart from the typical Jewish booster rag, and its arts & culture section is among the best of any paper.

The Jewish Week is more typical of American Jewish “community” newspapers — schmaltzy, self-celebratory — but as the self-declared Jewish paper of New York, the greatest Jewish city in history, it maintains a pride of place amongst the pack.

Although they’d hate to admit it, Commentary and Tikkun (pronounced tee-koon, Hebrew for healing the world) are sister publications. Both magazines feature lengthy essays and reviews,Commentary from the neocon right, Tikkun from the slightly soggy left. Both generate enough powerful ideas to influence politics beyond their small immediate audiences. Commentary is in ascendance at the moment, but if history is any guide, Tikkun is worth keeping an eye on for insight into the next phase of liberalism.

Moment, published out of Washington, D.C., is the nice middle child of Jewish magazines. It lacks a clear identity, and there’s not as much reporting behind its stories as its headlines would lead you to believe, but Moment is trying. And it’s probably a lot closer to mainstream American Jewish thinking than either of its smarter siblings above.

Nextbook is a sophisticated arts & culture site with a bold premise — to understand American culture, you need to understand American Jews.

Heeb bills itself the “New Jew Review,” and as such it’s simply the latest in a long line of magazines intended to make the Chosen People cool (anyone remember Davka?). It also happens to be one of the best.

Jewsweek: Same idea as Heeb. More mainstream.

Zeek also wants to provide a younger alternative to the Commentary/Tikkun routine, but despite the fact that its editorial staff includes a writer from da Ali G Show, it’s the most serious-minded of the new generation of Jewish magazines.

The Jewish Quarterly is a terrific British magazine of Jewish culture, politics, and books. Its website is newly remodeled, and now offers a wider range of its print articles online.

Hadassah, the magazine of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is the bubbe of them all. A mix of heymish homilies and top-notch writers giving it their (almost) all, it remains an important, often thoughtful publication.

Sh’ma: Serious essays by serious Jews. Often seriously good.

Generation J comes from the same edgy-as-earnest conglomerate that produces Sh’ma, but it’s more “lifestyle” oriented. The young people, they love it. Well, maybe not — but they produce some good features, and their “Daily Buzz” is a useful synthesis of the news.

JVibe is Generation J, Jr. (does that make it Generation I? for “irritating”?), and it strikes us a rather obvious attempt to convince “kidz” that Judaism is cool. Which means it’s an excellent glimpse into the mindset of middle-aged Jewish-Americans concerned with “continuity.”

Lilith, a benchmark of Jewish intellectual feminism since the mid 70s, has a Web site that lets you subscribe to its print edition.

Hard News
The Jerusalem Report is the Israeli Time, which means it’s mostly secular; but as the biggest newsmagazine of the Jewish state, it’s bound to cover more than politics and business, and sometimes it does so with style.

The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz are two of Israel’s daily papers with English editions.

JTA offers straightforward reporting, heavily focussed on Israel, terrorism, and anti-Semitism. You could almost forget there’s a religion involved.

BLOGS

Allah is in the House – Is it anti-Semitic? Anti-Islamic? A satire? An abomination. Yes. And — it hurts to say this — it’s sometimes funny, and often observant.

An Unsealed Room is veteran Jerusalem Post reporter Allison Kaplan Sommer’s “window on life in Israel.” During her time at the Post she worked almost every beat; now she gives the wisdom away for free in her blog.

Back Row of the ‘Beis – smart history and brief comments on the news.

Baraita‘s name merits full explanation: “a legal opinion which was not incorporated into the Mishnah (a compilation of Jewish law traditionally dated to 200 C.E. and credited to Rabbi Judah the Prince) but dates from this era and was considered authoritative. Many baraitot were incorporated into the Gemara, the authoritative commentary on the Mishnah (produced c. 200-650 C.E.), and are identified in the Gemara text as such. The Mishnah plus the Gemara form the Talmud, which I’m hoping all my readers have heard of.” All that, plus pop culture. One of our favorites.

Belle de Jew may work in porn, but on the financial side of things, she’ll have you and her bubbe know. An entertaining “Diary of a London professional Jewish girl.” Bridget Jones if Zellwegger was a Jewish name.

Doing it Maai Vey – “Chassidic life from one on the edge of the gefilte-fish cradle.” Insider gossip. Fascinating.

Hasidic Rebbele – just the fact of this blog’s existence makes us grateful for the internet. Information like this used to be M.O.T.-only.

The Head Heeb presents well-thought commentaries on politics, Israel, history, religion, Africa, etc. More than just blog entries, these are often short essays laced with excellent links.

Jewschool is “kicking it.” We’re skeptical of the Jewish graffitti movement, but we like Jewschool’s short, sharp, and occasionally shocking quips on the world and all the Jews in it.

Kesher Talk – a lotta hawks (10 bloggers), a lotta politics, a lotta links.

Out of Step Jew bills itself as “Confronting Judaism, Confronting Modernity, Confronting Ourselves.” We’re not sure what that means, but we like to watch Out of Step do it. More focus than most on religion in the media.

Peanut Butter, Foreskins, Icewater offers liberal politics and Jew news from the man who used to bring us Politics, Religion, and Drew Barrymore. He also operates a Jewish blog ring.

Protocols brings together five young elders for an ongoing attempt to dominate the blogosphere. They’ll never achieve their goal, but it’s fun to watch them try.

Yada, Yada, Yada – Jewsweek’s brilliantly named and well-executed popcult blog.

The Zionist Conspiracy is Joe Schick’s politically conservative running rant on Israel, the media, and the Jets. Schick’s also a columnist for The Jewish Press, and he writes with a broad range of knowledge about the media.

MORE TO COME…

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