Pesach is a time for marking new beginnings – the new growing cycle, the emergence of Israel as a nation of free men and women, the unique satisfaction of a perfectly clean kitchen...This year, it’s also going to see the launch of a new -- actually re-newed -- publication: Sh’ma Now. Sh’ma magazine, familiar to many of you, was first published by Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, z”l, in 1970. Several years ago, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah became its primary philanthropic sponsor. What Sh’ma stood for, examining diverse aspects of human experience through multiple Jewishly-informed lenses, resonated with the Foundation’s values.
But, like many print publications from last century, Sh’ma was no longer connecting well with its potential audience. So, after a rigorous 18 month process of imagining, prototyping, and listening, a new Sh’ma emerged, leaner (4 pages instead of 16), more focused (each issue will explore one Jewish sensibility, one distinctive way in which Jews approach life’s challenges and opportunities), and, perhaps most important, connected to another venerable Jewish publication, The Forward, which has been undergoing its own reinvigoration. Subscribers will now receive Sh’ma Now as a once-a-month insert in the printed edition of The Forward, and everyone can read it and download it from a new portal on The Forward’s website, soon to go live.
Fittingly, the first issue of Sh’ma Now focuses on the sensibility we call Lech Lecha, “venture forth.” Lech Lecha, God’s words to Avram calling him forth to begin the long journey that we as Jews continue on today, represents a call to leave behind the familiar and venture into unknown territory. It asks us simultaneously to risk and to trust, to embrace the liminality of the journey in the confidence that it leads us to a better place. Though addressed in Genesis to Avram, it could just as easily have been addressed to the slaves about to depart from Egypt – and to us.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading what the diverse voices that Sh’ma Now editor Susan Berrin has brought together have to say about the potential meaning of Lech Lecha for our lives.
For Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, Shma Now, with its focus on Jewish sensibilities, is an even more powerful expression of our belief that Jewish wisdom can help us lead better lives and shape a better world. We identify strongly with Lech Lecha as a watchword for all our activity, being willing to take risks, to explore new territory, trusting in our partners and companions and in the larger vision that guides us and them. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to bring something new to the Jewish community in Sh’ma Now, to launch it on its journey at the same time as we recall and relive the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom.
We hope you’ll become a reader of Sh’ma Now, and we hope you’ll share your reactions to it with the editor and with us to help it along on its journey. Most of all, we hope that you have a chag kasher v’sameach, a festive Pesach.