- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

What does it mean to be Jewish in the 21st century? A new magazine is dedicated to stimulating discussion on that subject.

Guilt & Pleasure is a project of Reboot, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to help younger generations engage in questions of Jewish identity, community and meaning. The third issue of the quarterly will hit bookstores Tuesday.

Each issue contains fiction, memoirs, humor, art, comics and other content relating to a central theme.

The new issue, titled “The Magic Issue,” focuses on topics of the supernatural in Jewish life and history and includes pieces about Adolf Hitler’s Jewish psychic, the Israeli army’s official magician and witches in the Bible. It also contains an excerpt from a soon-to-be published play about Harry Houdini by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn.

Guilt & Pleasure was inspired by a network of discussion salons that journalist Mireille Silcoff started three years ago in Toronto. Each month, Ms. Silcoff invited about 20 guests to her home to discuss Jewish issues. The salons, which attracted Jewish and non-Jewish participants, grew in popularity and spread to cities throughout North America, including Washington.

Ms. Silcoff, Guilt & Pleasure’s editor, and publisher Roger Bennett initially set out to put together a “glorified newsletter” of discussion material for the salons, but their project took off, eventually turning into a 150-plus page, full-color magazine.

The publication’s name comes from an informal survey in which its creators asked people which words they most closely associate with their Jewish identity. “Guilt” and “pleasure” were the words most often used, Ms. Silcoff said, and those words became the title of the magazine, which has the slogan “Making Jews Talk More.”

Mr. Bennett said the younger generation craves intelligent discussion. Even if young Jews don’t participate in organized Jewish life, they have questions about religion, identity and community that they want to talk about.

The aim is “to trigger a conversation about identity, community and meaning and how it’s changing generationally in America,” Mr. Bennett said. “I think really, ultimately, the questions are timeless.”

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