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  • Menorah, Jüdisches Familienblatt für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Literatur (1923-1932): Materialien zur Geschichte einer Wiener zionistischen Zeitschrift
  • Richard Hacken
Menorah, Jüdisches Familienblatt für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Literatur (1923-1932): Materialien zur Geschichte einer Wiener zionistischen Zeitschrift, by Isabella Gartner. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2009. 356 pp. €48.00.

Menorah, the Viennese cultural monthly that is the topic of Isabella Gartner's book-length presentation, only appeared in print for a total of ten years before the worldwide depression—apparently to a greater degree than the rise of Nazism—hastened its demise. The book's German-language title translates as "Menorah, Jewish Magazine for Science, Art and Literature (1923-1932): Materials on the History of a Viennese Zionist Journal." The journal under investigation originally had matching bilingual subtitles as "Illustrated Monthly for the Jewish Home / Illustrierte Monatsschrift für die Jüdische Familie." The use of English may have been in part a tip of the hat to New York's Menorah Journal founded in 1915 (later boasting such contributors as Louis Brandeis, Max Brod, Martin Buber, Felix Frankfurter, Luigi Pirandello, and Isaac Bashevis Singer), to which the Viennese journal shows clear parallels and with which it shares similar Jewish cultural goals. Though the first issues of the Viennese journal included articles in English and Hebrew, the publication increasingly limited itself to use of the German language.

Paul Josef Diamant—about whom little is known—founded the journal, directing it mainly to the educated Jewish middle class and particularly to its base unit, the family. His initially stated goal was to create a unified Jewish cultural atmosphere that could bridge the gulfs between various social and political factions. The only propaganda he promised to deliver would be that of common cultural goods. After one year, in 1924, through a transaction not firmly documented, Norbert Hoffmann and his wife Josefine (for both of whom, according to the author, biographical data were also rare and difficult to gather) took over publication for the final nine years of the journal. Hoffmann, who developed a close relationship with Vladimir Jabotinsky and the latter's Revisionist Zionist Party, contravened the founding editorial policy of nonpartisanship pronounced by Diamant. In fact, the Menorah can be seen in its later years as a documentation source for an extremist splinter group of Viennese Zionism in the 1920s and early 1930s. [End Page 188]

The journal was not well known even in its time, and today it can scarcely be found in an intact full run through antiquarian dealers or in libraries and archives. A website cosponsored by the author is accessible at that presents an online supplement to the book at hand with a short English abstract of the book, browsable metadata elements for individual articles of the Menorah monthly (issue by issue) and alphabetical lists of authors, publishing houses, and keyword concepts. The same categories are Boolean searchable in the site's central database. Should both the book and the database leave you frustrated to see and read the actual Menorah facsimiles themselves rather than short quotes and metadata, the journal has been digitized in its entirety at Compact Memory, the scholarly web portal for Jewish studies

Gartner's book contains more preparatory, primary, explanatory, appendix-worthy, or apparatus materials (pp. 1-36; 56-84; 115-132; 235-356) than discussion or analysis (pp. 37-56; 84-114; 133-234), and even the analytical chapters are richly interspersed with journal quotes or excerpts from unpublished correspondence. This fact is not meant as a negative criticism but as an indicator of content level: Gartner's book is a reworked dissertation serving with exquisite detail as the transcribed autopsy of a defunct journal, an annotated database in print format that provides a baseline from which further scholarly investigations can be launched.

Certain chapters do investigate individual themes and currents within Menorah, and central among them are the journal's place in the circle of Zionist Revisionists (Chapter 8), its seemingly inexcusable distance from topics of antisemitism or fascism (Chapter 9), its tendency towards literary selections depicting Eastern shtetl life, and aversion for works of the...


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