Editor’s Wrapup: Rebooting History
The clock began marking the American Jewish journey in 1654, and two years ago many of us took pride in our community’s 350-year history. Still, the commemoration hardly cured us of the notion that America’s history, Jewish or otherwise, is a relatively brief affair. Now it’s Great Britain’s turn to celebrate a Jewish milestone, also 350 years. How, you might ask, could anything in England be newer than anything on the New World side of the Atlantic?
There’s a jolly good explanation. When Oliver Cromwell decided to let Jews live openly in England in 1656 he was approving not an initial entry but a second coming. King Edward I had expelled the Jews in 1290 after a century of persecution. This year, British Jewry is marking the anniversary of what it calls “resettlement.” In his Letter from London (page 10), Geoffrey Paul assesses the community’s history and its place in British society—from discreet beginnings to a recent shofar rendition of “Rule Britannia” in Trafalgar Square.
When Rahel Musleah went to India earlier this year, she was, in some ways, restarting her own history. She was born in Calcutta and has carried a love for Indian Jewish culture her entire life. On this most recent visit she crossed a new frontier, traveling to India’s far- eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram to meet the Bnei Menashe—a group that would not have appeared on any Jewish map 50 years ago but may, in fact, outdate Jewry in Europe. Her “Journey to the East” begins on page 22.
In Germany, Jewish history restarted from zero after World War II. Today, Germany has the fastest growing Jewish community in Europe. As they renewed their culture over the past two generations, Germans have also explored the darkest chapter in their history in many ways. Toby Axelrod reports on one path toward understanding in “Dance Lessons” (page 70). In Germany, the clock is again marking a Jewish journey.