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Mikan Ve’eylakh, a journal published in Berlin, is an intellectual and literary platform for contemporary diasporic Hebrew.
Diaspora, from the Greek dia– (“throughout”) and sperein (“to sow”), is the dispersion of people across geographic areas analogous to the fertile dispersion of seeds. Unlike galut (Hebrew for “exile”), diaspora is not necessarily the result of a traumatic uprooting or expulsion. Furthermore, diaspora does not have to imply a single point of origin or a geographic center. A diasporic condition is one in which people, while in different locales with their own cultural and political particularities, share a common sense of identities and a network of communication and empathy across vast distances.
This sense of diaspora is at the heart of this project. It aims to reach out to the ‘four corners of the word’ in which Hebrew exists, while at the same time marking the special place of Berlin in the history of modern Hebrew cultural production. The Hebrew expression mikan ve’eylakh can be translated both as “from now on” and as “from here and beyond,” conveying both a temporal and spatial connection. Accordingly, the journal assumes a diasporic position based on doikeyt (Yiddish for ‘here-ness’) coupled with translocalism, rather than a cosmopolitanism or globalism.
By anchoring the project to the specific location of Berlin, the journal seeks to renew Hebrew intellectual and literary activity not only in the place where it was brutally destroyed, but also where it flourished for hundreds of years. Berlin was the birthplace of the Jewish Enlightenment (haskolo) in the 18th century and of Judaic Studies (Wissenschaft des Judentums) in the 19th century, two of the most important streams in modern Jewish thought. This place also played a major role in the history of modern Hebrew press and literature, from the publication of the first Hebrew journal in the 1750’s (Mendelssohn’s Qohelet musar, “Preacher of Morals”), through a centuries-long tradition of Hebrew printing reaching its golden age in the 1920’s and to the foundation of Brit ivrit olamit (“World Hebrew Union”) in 1931 by Simon Rawidowicz. Now, seventy years after Hebrew intellectual activity in Berlin and most of Europe has been shattered by National Socialism, Mikan Ve’eylakh contributes to the renewal of this tradition.
Producing the journal in actual print, rather than publishing it online, reflects the wish to revive Berlin’s tradition of Hebrew printing and to create once again Hebrew letters as a material, tangible object precisely in the place from which they have been forcefully erased.