THE EDINBURGH STAR
A History of the Edinburgh Star
It was with his vision of creating a ‘Journal for the Edinburgh Jewish Community’, that Rabbi Shalom Shapira wrote these historic words in the first issue of The Edinburgh Star twenty five years ago.
Eitan posed the rhetorical question, ‘why should we have our own journal? He said that there was a need to report the activities that went on; to have an opportunity to voice our opinions on communal issues and to reinforce the importance of our cultural life with articles written by local and non-local authors on Jewish matters of general interest. In June the Jewish Chronicle reported the birth of the Edinburgh Star together with a photograph of 12 enthusiastic committee members.
The editions produced by Eitan had a good number of diverse sections. They not only encapsulated the life of the community it represented, but also addressed the more serious nature of life beyond just that.
In March 1990 (issue 5) Eitan accepted the invitation to take up a research collaborative programme and lectureship for a few months in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. He delegated, to Ruth Adler, the position of acting editor and by December Ruth took over as the Editor.
From the 8 th edition until the present day the magazine has been Art set by Helen McFeely and completed for publication by Meigle Printers Limited in Galasheils. It was during this time a children’s section was introduced in an effort to excite interest in the younger generation; a section of the community that had not really been represented in the journal so far. Sadly this group was either too small in number or too young but the response was poor and the innovation lasted only three issues.
The Star’s mantra that it should reflect the activities and opinions of the Edinburgh Community requires an endless stock of diverse material without which you run the risk of becoming mundane. Ruth and her Board members were faced with this very challenging problem towards the end of her tenure as editor. It is very difficult to maintain such impetuous from such a small community in which not everyone aspires to, or feels capable of writing. There was no bottomless pit. However the Board would not be beaten. It seemed that The ‘Star’ should never be short of material while there were interesting lectures to report from the well established Edinburgh Jewish Literary Society that shared many of the same aspirations. Gradually the Star began to focus on these erudite but rather weighty articles more than some people felt comfortable with. Interesting though these accounts were, they would have to take up less space. Since then each meeting that took place in the winter months had to have a word limitation. Now all talks, and not just some, can be reported which makes for a more interesting overview that now satisfies an even balance of categories.
Julia Merrick took over in the role of temporary editor of the May issue, no18. She was shortly followed by John Cosgrove who edited three more.
Using issue 3 as his ideal measuring stick it was interesting to read Edgar Prais’ summation of the Star thus far in his article ‘Happy 20 th Birthday’, x and how he felt that the goal post appeared to have been moved. In his opinion the Star still, presented quality and diversity in content but it had become more parochial and ‘goody goody’……‘is the Star not ashamed of itself that it never has to apologise for anything?’ he mused. Prickly writing or not, Edgar’s article was obviously not too provocative to be published and subsequent, equally prickly ones followed.
John Cosgrove took up the reins once more for issue 39, in June 2001, and the following one in September was produced by Esti Scheinberg. I know that she put so much of her life blood into this project (still very much a hands on activity) that her husband, Ron, hoped it would not be the beginning of a new career…it wasn’t. It was in this edition that an interesting exchange was set up between Micheline Brannen and John Cosgrove regarding the subject of intermarriage.
Editors and Board members have come and gone, the format may have changed, but the aspirations first expressed by Eitan are still as strong. We do have fairly regular contributions now from the younger, if not the very young, generation. Each new editor stamps their own identity during their tenure. It has always been a learning curve and most of us, never having been trained in the art of publication, took their first faltering steps towards the next stage of a maturing publication that the editorial Board could be proud of.
Some examples of early articles in back issues. Those mentioned in the report above have asterisks *
*2 Edgar Prais Happy birthday p2
21 Iain Shein Where were they p2-4
*27 Michael Adler Editorial p2
29 David Capitanchik Israel at 50 p12-14
37 Leonard Berger, Norman Berger, David Kaplan p21-23
1 st Rambling Club Report
*38 Anthony Gilbert A tradition of wandering p25. If you want a humorous version of a rambling report, use the one below but I feel a bit reluctant to promote myself (decide for yourself…I won’t be offended!)
41 Judy Gilbert Rambling on p20-21
40 Micheline Brannan Intermarriage p20-21, John Cosgrove Reply to Micheline’s article p22
42 Edgar Prais My Country p18-19
49 Rabbi Rose Kabbalah p12-13
44 Berl Osborn The Dignity of Difference p19-20
50 Janet Mundy Review – The Price p25
46 Edward Green Visit to Poland p4-6
48 Samuel Danzig Letter from Israel p16
53 Esti Scheinberg Jews in Blacksburg, Virginia p8
48 Lindsey Levy The Jews of Elephantine Island p6-7
49 Irina Fridman Being Jewish in Ekaterinberg p20
65 Molly Sekl Peru
*What it means to be Jewish
30 Michael Adler
32 Hazel Cosgrove, Ellen Gallford, Malcolm Rifkind, Bill Simpson
35 Rabbi David Sedley & Ruzena Wood p9-11
44 Judy Sischy p8
51 Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sinclair – The Role of Halakah p22-24
54 Susanna Heschel Jewish perceptions of Jesus p19-20
Art & Music
48 Robin Spark Udi’s Art p12-13
33 Esti Scheinberg Anti-Semitism in Music p16