# 116 / Editorial

The renowned American historian of religion Daniel Boyarin, a specialist in Talmudic Culture and Ancient Judaism once described himself as a left-wing Zionist before converting to anti-Zionism. From the very first lines of the preface to his new book The No-State Solution. A Jewish Manifesto, he explains that the existence of the State of Israel contradicts a vibrant Jewish existence that should not tolerate injustice towards the Palestinians. Staying consistent to his beliefs, Boyarin ” categorically reject[s] the nation-­state solution to the continuity of Jewish existence and culture ” and advocates ” a diasporic nationalism that offers not the promise of security, but rather the highly contingent possibility of an ethical collective existence. ” But is it consistent with the Jewish history and the political responses that Jews have been forced to formulate? Certainly not, according to Danny Trom, who discusses Daniel Boyarin’s position, underlining the forgetfulness and blindness required to support it.

Birobidzhan, “autonomous Jewish region”, was founded in May 1934 on the edge of the USSR, on the Chinese border, with Yiddish as its official language. While, according to the soviets, every nationality living on Soviet territory was to be allocated a region, it was Stalin who took the initiative for the Jews. The aim was ambiguous, as it was also to keep Jewish intellectuals away from the big cities and to offer a credible alternative to Zionism. Tens of thousands of Jews lived there at the end of the 1940s, representing a quarter of the local population. Today, the Jews have left the area and only represent a tiny percentage of the local community. This is where Ber Kotlerman grew up. He wrote a novel about this region, of which we are publishing the epilogue, translated from Yiddish by Vivian Felsen. In this extract, the narrator drinks tea at the home of an old lady, the daughter of a Birobidzhan pioneer, whose life has been steeped in nostalgia for her father’s illusions about Jewish autonomy.

Finally, in this issue, which recalls how alternatives to Zionism could and still can be imagined, we are republishing “The View from Leopoldstadt“, where sociologists Julie Cooper and Dorit Geva discuss the case of Vienna’s reborn Jewish community, which they analyse as a sign of a new form of diasporic Jewish existence.

Daniel Boyarin, Professor of History of Religions and a renowned specialist in Talmudic Culture and Ancient Judaism, has published this year The No-State Solution. A Jewish Manifesto [Yale University Press], which claims on its back cover to be a “provocative book”. “provocative book”. Danny Trom discusses the anti-Zionism and “diasporic nationalism” that Boyarin promotes.

“Longing” was first published in Yiddish in the New York online magazine ‘Yiddish branzhe’. It is the epilogue of a novel in Yiddish that Ber Kotlerman, professor of Yiddish language and literature at Bar-Ilan University, will soon publish with the Swedish publisher Olniansky Tekst. Ber Kotlerman, who was born in Irkutsk in 1971, has the distinction of having grown up in Birobidzhan. The “autonomous Jewish region” founded in 1934 as part of the USSR is the backdrop to his book.

Is the revival of the Jewish community in Vienna a sign that a new form of diasporic Jewish existence is emerging? This is the stance of Julie Cooper and Dorit Geva who, following the schema of the historian Simon Dubnow, decipher the emergence in Europe of a new form of community, not nationalized, but inserted into a pan-European context. It could serve as a model, capable of becoming an alternative to the national form embodied in the State of Israel and that (perhaps in decline after having dominated) of American Judaism.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.