#12 / Editorial

K. publishes this week the second part of David Haziza’s inquiry on ritual slaughter in Europe (see here the first part of this article). He grapples with how this traditional rite has fit into and clashed with the mores of modern Europe, from Switzerland’s decision in the nineteenth century to ban the practice to an ominous decision recently pronounced by the European Court of Justice. He affirms his adamantine conviction: ritual slaughter, or shehita, is a pillar of Jewish life, and whether or not one adheres strictly to kasherut (Jewish dietary laws), the specter of such a ban in France inspires fear in France and Europe. A ban, according to him, could sound the death knell for Jewish life in Europe.

Noémie Issan-Benchimol transports us to the Middle East with her review and analysis of the Israeli series, Autonomies. Hers, however, is squarely a European story. Autonomies, which has not been released in Europe or the United States yet, plunges us into the milieu of the ultra-Orthodox community, which as seen in series like Unorthodox and Shtisel has become more and more a source of interest for both Jewish and general audiences. But now the genre is dystopian fiction: the State of Israel has splintered in two, with the secular state persisting in Tel Aviv and its environs, and a new ultra-Orthodox theocracy centered on Jerusalem. The Zionist state is thus opposed to the religious state. Autonomies reflects in its anxious meditation on the state of Israeli society the European Jewish experience as well.

The release in France of a critical edition of Mein Kampf confronts us head-on with the European Jewish past. Hitler’s polemic of hate is an indispensable historical document, but its publication in Europe also raises concerns – reproductions of the tract in Europe, especially in Germany, were long quashed out of fear of giving succor to neo-Nazis. Do we remember or repress? Fayard, the French publishing house releasing the critical edition, made the decision to push the landmark title of the tract (Mon Combat in French) to the bottom of the front-cover, which has as its principal title “Historiciser le Mal,” (“Historicizing Evil” in English). The French-language release of Mein Kampf has raised the ire of some, revealing the ongoing malaise of the European conscience vis-a-vis this darkest chapter of the continent’s history. Danny Trom reviews the volume in a somewhat puckish vein, and in so doing inaugurates a new occasional feature: “Let’s Be Serious.” Sometimes, satire is the best and only response.

Would the prohibition of ritual slaughter jeopardize the very existence of a European Judaism? What is at stake goes beyond the simple comfort of the Jewish community: it is the durability of the pact linking Jews to the continent that is at stake. Beyond that, the identity of Europe and the place it intends to give, in the twenty-first century, to its own Hebrew roots are at stake. Here is the second part of David Haziza’s essay on ‘shehita’ in Europe.

The series Unorthodox and Shtisel have been worldwide successes, familiarizing audiences with Haredi life. Noémie Issan-Benchimol discusses another Israeli series for K., Autonomies, which imagines the nation riven in two: on one side, the autonomous territory of Jerusalem, a theocracy led by the ultra-Orthodox; on the other side, the secular and Zionist state of Israel, its capital Tel Aviv.

    The writer measures the success of his work in the number of copies sold. No matter how self-confident he might be, sales at the bookstore matter to him….

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