45th Anniversary | Tributes to Moment

By | Nov 25, 2020
2020 November/December

Irving (Yitz) Greenberg,
Riverdale, NY
This landmark Jewish publication was started in the 1970s by Leibel (Leonard) Fein with assistance from Elie Wiesel. They were two of the most remarkable Jews of that extraordinary decade and beyond. Along with countless other Jews, I was inspired by them, and I miss them greatly. Leibel Fein grew up in the secular, Yiddishist tradition. He imbibed love of the Jewish people, passion for social justice and compassion for the needy with his mother’s milk. He carried that tradition forward into a new era on behalf of a new generation. He and Elie chose the name Moment after a leading Yiddish secular daily newspaper in prewar Warsaw. Leibel never particularly tuned in to the religious conventions and expectations of America and was left cold by the suburbanization and synagogue-joining of American Jews. But he was devout in his work for justice and human dignity. I loved his line, “A Jewish atheist does not believe in God but knows exactly what the God he does not believe in expects him to do.” The 1960s released a flood of activism, and Leibel was on the front lines in all the important causes. Leibel founded Moment to advance his activist agenda because (I think) academia was a bit boring for a person of his temperament. He wrote editorials, commented and campaigned on every important issue that confronted America and American Jewry. His writing and speaking were eloquent, idealistic, funny, sometimes realistic, sometimes prophetic and unyielding in their principles. Elie Wiesel represented the Jewish tradition in which he grew up—its religious depths, its love of God and human beings, its Messianic hopes and dreams, its solidarity with the oppressed and the vulnerable, its commitment to a life of meaning in every aspect of living. Of course, going through the Shoah transformed him. The fires of Auschwitz and Buchenwald melted his faith and learning and infused it with a unique mix of faith and doubt, in a worldview committed to making meaning in life. Elie was a pioneer whose book, The Jews of Silence, put Soviet Jewry’s plight on the agenda of urgent issues. He became the witness to the Holocaust for all humankind. He came to embody the conscience and the
conscience-pricking of the survivors. In later times, wherever people were at risk and suffering greatly, he was there to arouse the conscience of humankind. He became one of Israel’s most forceful defenders. Nor should one forget his role as a religious teacher—in countless lectures and books on great religious figures, from the Bible to Hasidic masters. He sang Jewish melodies and taught Jewish and Holocaust literature to a generation of students spellbound by his fascinating ways of teaching. His contribution to Moment was his name, his inspiration and his commitment to activism for Jewish and humanitarian causes. Both men are now gone. Fortunately, Moment was handed over to others to carry on. Their creation continues to serve Jewry. It still shines as a source of information, a forum for important analyses of the Jewish condition, a place of good journalism and a review of important books and other cultural phenomena on the Jewish scene.

Penny Brichta,
Lake Geneva, WI
When I was a student at the University of Illinois, the Hillel rabbi started his Rosh Hashanah sermon with “I want to ask you to subscribe to a magazine.” That was the fall of 1975, and I had just returned from my junior year studying in Israel. The magazine sounded interesting, and I subscribed and have been a subscriber ever since! Moment presents many sides of issues impacting Israel and/or Judaism. I particularly enjoy the articles featuring books and short stories. I feel it is important to support an organization that tries hard to be open to all aspects of Jewish life. Congratulations on 45 years!

Wendy J. Ungar,
Toronto, ON, Canada
I started reading Moment around 1980. I was still in my teens and an undergrad at Brandeis University and bubbling with optimism. Moment reinforced the ideals, creativity and ruach I had brought with me from Montreal and found in my fellow students at Brandeis. I eagerly looked forward to the arrival in the mail of each issue, and the magazine never failed to inspire and educate me. After graduation, my subscription gradually faded along with much of my idealism as I got busy with life. Now, 40 years later, living much of my day-to-day life online during this pandemic, I have rediscovered Moment and am deeply gratified to find it is still the
thought-provoking, intelligent and refreshingly original publication I remembered it to be. Mazel tov on your 45th birthday. Ad meah ve-esrim!

Bill Cox,
Monterey, VA

In the 1940s, my Presbyterian grandmother told me that I would become a Presbyterian minister. She also told me in 1948 about the founding of the State of Israel and its importance. I listened to my grandmother. As a result, I became aware of the importance of Judaism for the world and for my life. When I read in 1975 that a new Jewish magazine, Moment, was to be published, I subscribed immediately. I have never been disappointed and have been a reader/subscriber since then. Moment fulfills a significant place for those like me who worship the God of Israel. It keeps us aware of Judaism, the Jewish people and their concerns. My understanding of my heritage as a Christian has deepened and my life has been enriched. I am grateful.

Nancy F. Kaplan,
West Bloomfield, MI

From the beginning of our association with Moment in 1979, my husband and I found it to be an engaging portal to Jewish learning and conversation, and that has continued to this day. Over the years I have often given gift subscriptions to friends. Currently, I especially appreciate Moment Zoominars and share those links with friends here in metro-Detroit. Moment’s insistence on showcasing a wide array of Jewish viewpoints on an issue of contemporary concern is a beacon of pluralistic, respectful colloquy that I wish the rest of the Jewish world (and the wider world!) would emulate. Todah rabbah, Moment!

Bert Foer,
Washington, DC

I was not a Moment reader until I became a member of a four-person group of advisers to Hershel Shanks, then the publisher of Moment, when he was being sued for publishing parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. From that time onward I became a regular reader, and I have continued as an adviser into the present after Shanks sold the magazine to Nadine Epstein. Meanwhile, the advisory board has grown and meets several times a year to talk about all aspects of the magazine. I’ve had the pleasure of watching it improve year by year, issue by issue, into an award-winner.

Terrie Polovsky,
Old Bridge, NJ
As a lifelong student, I am excited when I am about to discover something new. Moment provides me with an ongoing journey through unknown worlds. I learn from every article. Each issue exposes me to a variety of perspectives, and I learn from defending my own opinion in my mind against an opinion with which I disagree. Whether I am reading a letter to the editor, a book review, a short story or a political piece, I am enthralled. My main challenge is trying not to finish Moment in a few days. To prolong the pleasure, I permit myself to read no more than ten pages at once. I know that your readers will understand my struggle. The pandemic has provided me with the time to listen to Moment’s equally thoughtful weekly Zoom conversations. I wish you continued success. May you publish forever, enriching my children and grandchildren and all those around us.

Ted Comet,
New York, NY

Jewish tradition has always had the uncanny ability to elevate the great ideas and concepts from across the centuries—and create vigorous conversations about their relevance quite literally “in the moment.” And that’s the legacy of Moment Magazine. Over four decades, Moment has embraced the timeless quality of the Jewish conversation and given it new meaning and flavor. May it continue to go from strength to strength, enlivening and enlightening Jewish generations to come.

Bindy Bitterman,
Chicago, IL
I don’t think I’ve been reading Moment even for ten years. All I know is that, from my very first reading, Moment overwhelmed (and overjoyed) me with its reasonable, intellectual attitude; its sense of humor; and its sort of well-balanced liberal objectivity. Also, it gave me a peek into a window of the Orthodox world and other movements (I’m Reform), about which I had little information. Since my own initiation, I have given Moment as a gift to two non-Jewish but Jewishly involved, intellectually curious friends who I knew would love it—which they did.

Lois Lieff,
Montreal, QC, CANADA
What do I love? The wide variety of topics and opinions, the quality of the research and writing, the forthright expression of opinion by the editor and others, the lively conversations with readers, the regular columns as well as feature articles, the symposiums, the in-depth examination of important and controversial issues, “Ask the Rabbis,” the book reviews, short fiction, “Talk of the Table,” “Spice Box,” the physical attractiveness of the magazine, and during these indoor days, the Moment Minute newsletter and the Zoominars. What do I not love so much? The lack of
open-mindedness of some readers who cannot stand to see opinions that don’t reflect their own. Kol hakavod—mi chayil el chayil!

Merom Brachman,
Columbus, OH

I knew Elie Wiesel, Hershel Shanks, and Nadine Epstein—each in a different way. In each of their eras, Moment has promoted dialogue in the Jewish community, blending sociology, religious experience and creative and literary work. It often has represented more diverse messages than certain other periodicals, both in the Jewish and in the secular world. What stands out when I look back is the high quality of the intellectual endeavor. There are so many memorable contributions, it’s very difficult to pick out one or two. A mix of outlooks and of gender and other perspectives has moved the magazine forward with the changing times and made it more relevant than even in those early years.

Philip Sternberg,
Fairfax, VA
My subscription to Moment started in 2015, but I had been reading the magazine at my public library for at least two years before that. I especially enjoy articles that explore current political events and the wide diversity of views and opinions that the magazine offers readers. The magazine almost always has reasoned articles by prominent leaders in government and academia. I also like the “Ask the Rabbis” series. I never knew there were so many Jewish denominations. Moment fills a niche in my quest to make sense of the world we live in.

Uri D. Herscher,
Los Angeles, CA
I have been proud to support Moment since its inception. It was a privilege to take part in the early conversations with Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein that gave Moment birth. For 45 years I have admired the independence and integrity of Moment’s singular Jewish voice. Over the last two decades, Nadine Epstein, as editor and CEO of this vital publication, has scaled new heights of breadth, depth and distinction. Congratulations to the Moment team for all you have achieved, and for your remarkable contributions to Jewish life and learning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.