“Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility” invites some of the most thoughtful writers of contemporary Judaism and curates a distilled “conversation” in print and online, bringing together several voices around a single theme. These voices cross the spectrum of Judaism — secular and religious,
We have been privileged that the Journal uses our database of visual artists for its issues.
January 2018 issue features the theme Thresholds | מְזוּזֹת Mezuzot. How does Judaism sanctify liminal spaces?
Ruth Weisberg‘s painting “Threshold”, 2004, was used for the cover page of “Sh’ma’.
January’s issue can be viewed online here, and also in print as an insert of the Forward.
Boundaries, which simultaneously separate and connect, are places of transaction and transition. Differences are delineated, relationships are negotiated, and similarities are shared, helping us to define ourselves by knowing who we are and who we are not.
These binary functions dissolve at the threshold — at what sociologists call “liminal” (drawn from the Latin, “limen,” meaning “threshold”), or “in-between” spaces. Thresholds are implicitly places of uncertainty. What seems clear on either side becomes imprecise at the point where such distinctions become blurred. Consequently, liminal space can be associated with anxiety and danger — or opportunity.
We mark thresholds with a mezuzah, a ritual capsule containing parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah — Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. Often thought of as a symbol of a Jewish home, the mezuzah originated in the more dramatic traditions of protective amulets that secure vulnerable thresholds. At Pesach, we recall the night of the tenth plague in Egypt, when applying sacrificial blood to the doorpost (threshold) of Israelite homes was required to ward off the Destroyer. (Exodus 12:7, 13)
The December 2017 issue Levaya | לְוָיָה / Accompaniment – Accompanying those in need featured on its cover a painting, Threads (oil on canvas, 2014, 36 x 36″) by Joyce Polance.
Sh’ma is edited by Susan Berrin. Susan is also the Editor of two landmark Jewish anthologies, Celebrating the New Moon: A Rosh Chodesh Anthology and A Heart of Wisdom: Making the Jewish Journey from Midlife through the Elder Years. She lectures frequently on Rosh Chodesh, as well as Jewish midlife and elder issues. She has contributed essays to several books, most recently, Praise Her Works: Conversations with Biblical Women , The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom, In Women’s Hands: Letters from Mothers to their Children, and Jewish Mothers Tell Their Stories : Acts of Love and Courage .
Read about Shma here: https://forward.com/shma-now/about/