Issue Blast | November/December 2023

By | Nov 21, 2023
An AI-generated image in the style of a surrealist painting. A lighthouse standes on a rocky island, light extending in both directions into stormy skies. Magazines fly around it.

As most writers know, conflict is often at the heart of stories worth telling. We at Moment know our role is to stand at the center of the American Jewish conversation like a lighthouse, protecting those navigating the waves and shoals by illuminating the environment around us and offering a reliable reference point.

Yet the devastating renewed violence between Israel and Hamas has sent terrible reverberations in all directions. Those of us who refuse to either be washed out to sea or retreat inland are in a challenging, sometimes heartbreaking position. In this issue of Moment, even those stories that don’t deal directly with the war examine old wrongs, new hurts and celebrated crimes. We didn’t plan it this way, but we know that the confounding fog of these times makes the need for the light we shine in this new issue all the more necessary.

First up, in her letter from the editor, Nadine Epstein explores whether the October 7 attack signifies a decisive blow to the current liberal world order, and makes an impassioned plea to keep it alive. She explores this theme even more deeply in her full-length interview with Ilan Berman, expert on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council.

In a feature essay, Rebecca Clarren—descendant of Jewish immigrants whose claims in the “Jew Flats” of South Dakota propelled them into the American middle class—soul-searches for her moral obligations toward the Lakota Nation, whose land her foreparents homesteaded. And Senior Editor Dan Freedman remembers his father, who led the American Psychiatric Association in December of 1973 when it overturned its previous position and declared that homosexuality was not, in fact, a mental disorder.

In opinions, Sarah Posner writes about how anyone who is still on Elon Musk’s X should get off now, pointing to the fact that Musk himself recommended two misinformation-filled accounts as good sources for “following the war in real-time,” among many other reasons. Gershom Gorenberg marvels at the way ordinary Israelis have rallied together in the wake of the violence, casting the compounding impacts of an out-of-touch government into even starker relief. Konstanty Gebert looks at the “spectacular demise” of the right-wing Polish government and wonders if the former opposition can make good on its surprising electoral success. In an opinion interview, Dina Porat—chief historian at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem—examines the story of a group of Jews who sought revenge for the Holocaust in light of Israelis’ response to the October 7 attack.

In our “Moment Debate” section, our debaters—former head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and author of Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews David L. Bernstein and Naomi Greenspan, director of the Academic Engagement Network’s Improving the Campus Climate Initiative—discuss an issue that has deeply shaped the American response to the war: Do diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives harm Jews? And, the word “genocide” has been used by people on both sides of the military and ideological conflict between Israel and Hamas. This December marks the 75th anniversary of the UN Convention that enshrined the word in international law. Digital Editor Noah Phillips traces its history in “Jewish Word.

“Still Life with Nazi-Looted Art,” a sonnet-length poem by Jared Harél, plumbs grief and loss. In “Moment(s),” we hear profound reflections about the war from a former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, an interview with a father whose son was taken to Gaza and insights from Aaron David Miller about the future of Hamas.

On a lighter note, in “Visual Moment,” Frances Brent introduces us to the wealthy—and fashionable—Jewish patrons and subjects of John Singer Sargent, an American expatriate artist who, at the turn of the last century, was considered the leading portraitist of his generation. And our “Talk of the Table” feature takes us to Toledo, Spain, where multitudes of Jews (among others) have made and munched the ever malleable marzipan for generations.

Amid all this tension, many people yearn for voices of clarity, truth and justice. In “Ask the Rabbis,” our contributors help us consider the role of the prophetic voice in today’s world—for better and worse.

“Literary Moment” introduces several unlikable characters—this year marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Chicago trial of Leopold and Loeb, two Jewish boys who were anything but nice. Special Literary Contributor Robert Siegel reviews a newly republished book about the case. And Critic-at-Large Carlin Romano reflects on Everywhere an Oink Oink: An Embittered, Dyspeptic and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood, a memoir by the irascible David Mamet.

New content—about the ongoing war and everything else—is always being added to our website, If you don’t subscribe, here is your chance to have access to Moment’s full suite of thoughtful and well-researched articles, newsletters and more. We hope our work helps you weather the storm and—as Hanukkah fast approaches—helps shine a little light in the darkness.

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