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Havruta: Unique new journal now available from Shalom Hartman Institute

Havruta is an experiment in translation and adaptation, with articles written especially for it or adapted from scholarly books and journals
Stuart Schoffman is a research fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute. For more than 20 years, as a writer for the Jerusalem Report and Jewish newspapers in North America, he has combined Jewish scholarship with reportage and analysis of politics, religion and culture. His translations from Hebrew include books by the Israeli authors A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, and Meir Shalev. Before making aliya in 1988, he worked as a journalist for Fortune and Time magazines in New York, and


Havruta Journal Premier Issue - Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel

"Havruta – A Journal of Jewish Conversation," a new semi-annual Shalom Hartman Institute magazine, is now available. The first volume – Spring 2008 – deals with the ever-relevant topic of Membership.

Havruta Editor Stuart Schoffman explains the idea behind Havruta and provides an overview of this pilot volume in the magazine’s introductory letter to readers, which we are offering as a sneak preview:


The new magazine you are discovering arose from a desire to make a shidduch, a productive match. The Shalom Hartman Institute has long taken great pride in its Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, whose scholars, many of them leaders in their fields at Israeli universities, publish prolifically in academic journals that most readers in the wider world never see. "Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation," is designed to bridge that gap.

Havruta is an Aramaic word similar to the Hebrew haver, friend. It refers to the study of traditional Jewish texts in pairs or groups, whether in the beit midrash study hall, after the Shabbat meal, or even over lunch at a deli. It’s a marvelous way to read, as many readers know.
Our Havruta is an experiment in translation and adaptation. Some of the articles in this first issue were written especially for us, in Hebrew or in English. Others were originally written for publication in scholarly books and journals. All of them, we think, merit wide reading and further discussion.
Sometimes our topics can seem a bit esoteric. Why, for example, are we running a piece that focuses on the mystical Biblical exegesis of Rabbi Elijah, the 18 th century Gaon of Vilna? Does anyone care about the nuances of Jewish conversion law at the time of Ezra the Scribe, or in medieval Ashkenaz? How interesting can an article be if it opens with a convoluted Talmudic argument about fasting on Hanukkah? The answers, we believe, are very interesting indeed.
If Havruta has an ideology, it is this: Judaism is endlessly surprising and uncannily relevant. The articles we offer here, and those we plan to publish in the future, are selected on the basis not only of their pure intellectual value but also of their potential meaning for the contemporary reader. And if, as we hope and expect, you’d like to know more about an intriguing passage that you encounter on these pages from Maimonides or midrash – or the American poet Emma Lazarus – you might want to re-read them with a friend, in havruta.
In this issue’s special section on Membership, prominent thinkers from diverse corners of the Jewish world offer their thoughts on varieties of Jewish identity and their implications for Jewish peoplehood. We could not ask for a better means of illustrating this theme than the stunning photographs from Frederic Brenner’s acclaimed Diaspora series that appear, with his generous permission, throughout the magazine.
The editors of Havruta would like also to thank all the authors of our first issue, for allowing us to publish and adapt the fruits of their labor. Thanks are due as well to many colleagues at the Shalom Hartman Institute who have encouraged our efforts and offered valuable guidance. And thanks in advance to our readers, for taking the time to enjoy our magazine. By all means, let us know what you think.
Stuart Schoffman
Editor, Havruta
Website Editor’s Note: We will be posting selected articles from Havruta’s premier issue shortly after its publication. If you would like to be notified when Havruta articles are available online, please click here.

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