“A Questioning of the Jewish Status Quo”: Midstream, Shlomo Katz, and American Zionist Letters at Midcentury
Established in New York in 1955 by Zionist leader Emanuel Neumann, Midstream immediately proclaimed its identity as a Zionist publication and its intention to focus squarely upon the problems of Jewish existence in the diaspora. This article asks: How did the early Midstream, under the direction of its first editor, Shlomo Katz, attempt to position itself as a new and indispensable voice in Jewish and especially in Zionist letters? Did the magazine differ in significant ways from its ostensible competitors? How may we assess Katz’s role and legacy at Midstream? To begin answering these questions, the article examines the extent to which founding editor Shlomo Katz, as an idiosyncratic Zionist and unadulterated pessimist, shaped the magazine. For Katz as an intellectual, Jewish needs always came first. Yet in seeking to maintain Midstream as a forum for free discussion, he sometimes provided room for novel or provocative perspectives on matters of importance to the Jewish community—including, prominently, Israel. Drawing on issues from the first eighteen years of Midstream as well as archival materials pertaining to its administration, this essay illuminates a significant intellectual and cultural venue in postwar American Jewish life, one that has largely been neglected by scholars of postwar American Jewish history.
KeywordsMidstream Shlomo Katz Zionism Jewish periodicals Postwar United States
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