The Editors of this journal have chosen, with this issue, to operate a momentary shift from the monographic approach that characterized all previous publications. This time ‘Quest’ publishes a collection of eight articles on different topics, not tied together by one unifying theme.
While still believing in the value and purpose of monographic issues - developed under the careful coordination of one or more editors (either internal or external to the journal’s Editorial board) - this time the Editors have decided to experiment with a different mode of publication; we reserve ourselves the possibility to publish other such miscellaneous issues from time to time.
‘Quest’ will promptly return to publishing thematically coherent issues from n. 8, which will appear in December 2014. It will be edited by Tullia Catalan and Cristiana Facchini and will be devoted to biographies of key figures of the Italian Jewish communities in the age of emancipation.
The ‘Focus’ section of this edition of ‘Quest’ is composed of very diverse contributions, authored by both junior and senior scholars. The articles cover a wide range of topics, time periods and geographical areas. We open with the Greek Islands, considered from very different points of view: Cristina Pallini and Annalisa Scaccabarozzi offer us a study of urban history, analyzing Salonika’s lost synagogues, while Varvaritis presents the ‘Cronaca Israelitica’ – the first Jewish newspaper in the Ionian Islands – and the discussions of Jewish emancipation in the late XIXth century. Then we move on to Finland, with a contribution by Tarja Liisa Luukkanen that presents the 1897 discussion concerning the legal condition of the Jews that took place within the Finnish Diet, and in particular within the clergy, illustrating the role of antisemitism and the reception of Adolf Stoecker’s ideology. From the Baltic Sea we move back to Southern Europe, with an essay by Bojan Mitrović dedicated to the forms of social integration and of nationalization of Serbian Jewry as seen through a peculiar case study. Udi Manor’s article makes us leap to the North American continent, and to Jewish New York in particular, discussing Jewish 'identity politics' through the prism of the “Jewish Daily Forward” in the early XXth century. The last three articles concentrate on the second half of the XXth century. Rolf Steininger presents the figure of Karl Hartl, the first Austrian diplomat in Israel, and his perception of the country. Michele Sarfatti carefully reconstructs how foreign (non-Italian) historiography interpreted Fascist antisemitism between 1946 and 1986. Finally, the ‘Focus’ section is closed by Anna Baldini’s attentive depiction of Primo Levi’s role in shaping Italy’s memory of the Shoah.
Overall these very different contributions shed light, each with its own peculiar style and methodology, on relevant aspects of the modern Jewish experience. They fit well within the approach chosen by ‘Quest:’ to devote every issue to original historical research and historiographical debate on Jewish life and history in the modern era, inclusive of all Jewish realities – from the Sephardic to the Ashkenazi world -, to consider Jewish identities in their context, to analyze the shifting forms and functions of anti-Judaic sentiment and the ever changing reactions of Jewish groups to the challenges of modernity.
As we approached the closure of this volume a somber event hit us: Michele Luzzati – who as a member of the Scientific Board of the Fondazione Cdec had strongly supported the creation of this journal, and who had been a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of ‘Quest’ - died in Pisa on June the 12th.
Born in Turin in 1939, Michele had studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore and later went on to make a brilliant academic career, teaching first at the Scuola Normale, then at the University of Sassari and finally – since the late 1980’s – as Full Professor at the University of Pisa.
A renowned medievalist, he had dedicated his energies and his curiosity to Jewish history in the last thirty years, playing a key role in the development of Jewish studies in Italy both through his scholarship as well as through his qualities as a mentor of young scholars and a capable cultural organizer. He has been, among other things, an active member of the Associazione Italiana per lo Studio del Giudaismo (Italian Association for the Study of Judaism) and the founder, first Director and the true soul of the Interdepartmental Center for Jewish Studies of the University of Pisa. His curiosity, his intellectual acumen and his openness to discussion will be sorely missed. This issue is dedicated to his memory, may it be a blessing.