Tablet Turns 1
Happy birthday to us, and highlights from the first year
Tablet Magazine launched a year ago today, on June 8, 2009. In the last 365 days, we’ve worked hard to build an audience, establish a voice, and offer interesting, compelling, and hopefully at least somewhat unexpected coverage of Jewish life, culture, and news in the United States and around the world in the early part of the 21st—or 58th, depending how you’re counting—century.
If you’ve been with us all along, thanks so much for reading. If you’ve discovered us over the last year, welcome, and we hope you’ve been enjoying your visits. If you’re new, well, what took you so long? Pull up a chair and get to know us already.
For the last few days, our regularly updated blog, The Scroll, has been posting links to some of our favorite stories from the past year. Here’s all 10 in one spot (but in no particular order):
• “A Zionist Supreme” by Adam Kirsch, September 29, 2009. Kirsch, our books critic, credited Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish U.S. Supreme Court justice, with “la[ying] out the terms of the compact that still governs American Jews’ relations with Israel: they would offer money and moral support, but not sacrifice their Americanness.”
• “Mother, May I?” by Eryn Loeb, June 11, 2009. Loeb, a contributing editor, revisits A Treasure for My Daughter, a 1950 handbook that contains wisdom on everything a young Jewish woman was supposed to know.
• “King Without a Crown” by Allison Hoffman, May 10, 2010. Hoffman, our senior writer, epically profiled Malcolm Hoenlein, one of the most politically influential American Jews.
• “City of Refuge” by Ze’ev Avrahami, April 22, 2010. Avrahami remembers his old town of Yamit, a ’70s-era Israeli settlement in the Sinai that was handed back to Egypt following the 1979 peace deal.
• “The Crime of Surviving” by Dovid Katz, May 3, 2010. Katz sheds light on the bizarre and troubling “Holocaust obfuscation” of Lithuania and the other Baltic states, which equates Jewish suffering under the Nazis with Lithuanian suffering under the Soviets.
• “My Generation” by Vanessa Davis, November 6, 2009. In this installment of her graphic memoir, Davis grapples with the complicated legacy of R. Crumb.
• “Private Booth” by Charles and Julian Boxenbaum, October 1, 2009. The father-and-son architect team devises the one-person, portable SukkahSeat.
• “Blessed Bluegrass” by Jon Kalish, December 7, 2009. In this Vox Tablet podcast—one of those that won Tablet Magazine a National Magazine Award—Jon Kalish profiles Jerry Wicentowski, an Orthodox bluegrass musician who won’t play on Shabbat.
• “Song Cycle” by Liel Leibovitz, May 10, 2010. On another installment of Vox Tablet, Leibovitz takes a look at the many versions and meanings of the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”
• “It Oughta Be Kosher!” by Marc Tracy, April 1, 2010. A bonus! In our favorite Scroll post, Tracy considers whether cookie dough oughtn’t be considered pesadik.
And here are your favorite stories from the last year, presented in decreasing order of popularity, as tracked by our servers:
1. “Eight Days of Hanukkah: The Video” by Jeffrey Goldberg, December 8, 2009. Sen. Orrin Hatch sings a new, original Hanukkah song, with lyrics by Hatch, a Utah Republican, and music by Madeline Stone.
2. “A Skeptic’s Skeptic” by David Kaufmann, January 20, 2010. Kaufmann, Tablet Magazine’s poetry columnist, reviews David Mikics’s Who Was Jacques Derrida?, which attacks deconstruction, the school of literary criticism that Derrida pioneered.
3. “Out of Focus” by Alana Newhouse, April 2, 2010. Tablet Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Newhouse filed a companion piece to her New York Times Magazine examination of Roman Vishniac, the photographer who created the modern view of benighted prewar shtetl life.
4. “Garrison Keillor Doesn’t Like Jews Writing Christmas Songs” by Marissa Brostoff, December 17, 2009. Brostoff, a Tablet staff writer, reports on the radio host’s salvo in the Christmas-song wars.
5. “Frankfurt on the Hudson” by Adam Kirsch, August 18, 2009. Tablet Magazine’s book critic considers The Frankfurt School in Exile, a study of the thinkers who fled to New York from Nazi Germany and created Critical Theory.
6. “The End of the Affair” by Wesley Yang, September 4, 2009. An appraisal of attorney-author Louis Begley’s Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters.
7. “Great Exxxpectations” by Wayne Hoffman, July 21, 2009. Gay-porn star and mogul Michael Lucas touted his new Men of Israel DVD as a the first all-Israeli porn movie. Hoffman argues that, more important, it’s the first all-Jewish porn movie.
8. “Con Game” by Allison Hoffman, January 13, 2010. Hoffman wrote the lead piece in Tablet’s series on Leib Tropper, the New York rabbi who tried to remake the rules on conversion to Judaism, until a sex scandal—and a family feud between his wealthy backers—brought him down.
9. “Was Paul a Jew?” by Judith Shulevitz, November 11, 2009. Shulevitz, a Tablet Magazine contributing editor, considers the new scholarship on the apostle Paul, long considered the progenitor of anti-Semitism.
10. “Planet of the Helicopter Parents” by Marjorie Ingall, January 25, 2010. Parenting columnist Ingall considers modern urban parenting, Choose Your Own Adventure-style.
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WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
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