Editor’s Wrapup: History in the Rearview Mirror
Like a Washington or Churchill, David Ben-Gurion looms over Israeli history. Periodically we are treated to new insights on the founding father of the Jewish state. Some seem to magnify his stature, but even those that momentarily appear to diminish it also tend to reinforce his centrality. Last month, Hadassah Magazine published an essay by Amos Oz, in which the writer recalled a meeting with the Old Man that took place more than 50 years ago. In a single piece, Oz portrayed a leader who was both less imposing and more commanding than many previous chronicles have suggested. In this issue, Paul Goldman’s cover photo of Ben-Gurion shows a leader virtually stripped—literally as well as figuratively—of all verbal and historic description. The photo is part of a retrospective of Goldman’s images of early Israel, now on exhibit at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York (page 46).
Looking back at history, whether cultural or personal, helps us define who we are. In Kaifeng, China, a loose community of Jewish descendants is probing the faith and traditions of its ancestors in an effort to strengthen its identity. Bernard Edinger visited Kaifeng and describes the Jewish awakening he found in “Reverence for Ancestors” (page 30).
With the revival of Jewish sovereignty and Jewish agriculture, it is easy to imagine kibbutzniks tending olive trees, much as farmers did in ancient Israel. In fact, olive cultivation was one of the old traditions that took much longer to reemerge in modern Israel. Today, the growing demand for olive oil has prompted more producers to enter the market and has also increased agricultural cooperation between Israeli Arabs and Jews. Lauren Gelfond Feldinger looks at the oil industry that is fueling the quest for healthier diets and, in the season of Hanukka, lighting a few lamps as well (page 26). Sometimes, it seems, a look forward can seem very much like a look back.