I meet Joshua Newman, the new publisher of Heeb. Joshua teaches two classes in Jewish philosophy at NYU, including one in Post-Holocaust Theology. He's clean shaven and clean cut, dressed like a professor or businessman.
A man from Toronto, Ontario, writes Heeb Magazine: "I'm reading Heeb #2 right now and I'm already figuring out how you can fit into my life plan. I just returned from the Ukraine where I went with the innocent intention of visiting Hasidic gravesites on a Breslov pilgrimage. My hotel in Odessa was in the prostitution district however, and I ended up making a 21-minute shock-erotic-trash video using some of the local pros. The entire film was shot in eight hours using a home video camera on a budget of $300! The next morning, I was off to Berditchev to visit the grave of Rabbi Something-or-Other. Talk about extremes! Anyhow, I have found my calling and am looking for someone to take me under his wing, promote my hilarious brand of deviant sex tales and produce me. Screw the Torah, I was miserable there. I just want a life of pleasure now. Enclosed is my video. I expect you to love it and publicize it in your next issue. Get back to me on this!"
P.R. GURU QUITS OVER 'PASSION'
From NYPost.com, 2/12/04:
I emailed Joshua Neuman, editor and publisher of Heeb Magazine, for a comment. A few days later, he called me back.
Josh: "Susan Blond didn't see it in the context of the magazine. She only saw JPEGs that were forwarded to her. This is not an attack on Christianity and Judaism or anything other than Mel Gibson's own pomposity, that somehow he optioned the story rights from Jesus.
"I haven't seen the film. I may be pleasantly surprised. I don't necessarily think he's anti-Semitic.
"This photo shoot was so appropriate for Heeb magazine. We've never dealt with anti-Semitism before. We're from a generation that grew up largely unaware of anti-Semitism. People my age are confused about this movie. We're trying to make sense of this narrative. We're having feelings bubble up within us that we're not used to.
"We got together a bunch of our friends, Jews and Christians, on a Sunday afternoon in November. We argued back and forth. This was a true interfaith dialogue. What you see on these pages are young, not necessarily religious, people struggling honestly with a narrative that they have complex and powerful feelings about. Some of it is sexy. Some of it is irreverent. Some isn't. It can't be understood without the text accompanying it. This is a work of art directed towards Mel Gibson's pomposity."
Luke: "Who's more offended by this layout?"
Josh: "Right now, Susan Blond, an Orthodox Jew, is the only one offended. The real issue is that we're offended by Mel Gibson. The hubris, the Latin and the Aramaic, and the twisting of the narrative, and basing it on this nun's amalgamation of the Gospels and passing it off as an expression of history, and not taken into account that these texts were written a hundred years after the Passion of Jesus took place. I'm not asking him to become a detached, post-modern Biblical scholar. Where's he most radical is in his departure from Catholic teachings. This commission of bishops is an issuing a manual on this film on how to respond to people who mistake this film for history itself."
Luke: "Is it true you used a Jewish prayer shawl as Jesus's loincloth?"
Josh: "Yes, it is true."
Luke: "Where did you get that from?"
Josh: "From Marc Chagall, from his apocalyptic paintings of the crucifixtion. Each tableau in the photospread is inspired by a classic image in Western art."
The humor and music editors of Heeb are Orthodox Jews. "Everybody on our editorial board has their nuanced relationship with all things Jewish."
Luke: "Have you seen the movie The Believer (2001)?"
Josh: "Yes. That party you went to was the DVD release party for The Believer. They advertised in our magazine for the movie. I thought it was a flawed interesting movie. It didn't offend me. Palm Pictures who took out the ad. We had that banner on our website for months. We got them a lot of publicity. They opted not to pay us. They didn't even say the check is in the mail."
Luke: "How much do they owe?"
Josh: "Not a lot. It would be embarrassing to say. But to a struggling start-up with an all-volunteer staff it meant a lot. We've never been treated that way."
Luke: "The movie disturbed me."
Josh: "It was a parable. These weren't real people. They were caricatures thrown on to the screen and duking it out for a higher moral purpose. I was surprised that I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would."
Jennifer Bleyer, the former editor of Heeb, is now an editor at large.
Josh: "I loved The Last Temptation of Christ. I love historical drama. I support his right to struggle with his faith in an artistic way.
"This is satire. We could've written an editorial that no one would've ever read. We're pissed off and we want people to notice."
Josh has taken the semester off from teaching Jewish philosophy at NYU. He's writing a book with Dave Deutsch for St. Martins. It's an irreverent survey of Jewish conspiracy theories throughout the ages.
Dave Deutsch comments: "I'll admit when I first heard the loincloth thing, I was disturbed. I imagined it would really be wrapped around his crotch and ass-crack. But having seen the Chagall painting (White Crucifixion), and having heard Josh's description, I'm fine with it now--I haven't seen the actual photos, but it sounds fine. Similarly, I won't judge The Passion, since I haven't seen it, and have just heard descriptions of it. I certainly don't think that adhering to a Gospel account of the death of Jesus makes on an anti-semite, but I will add that insofar as he allegedly moved beyond his account, and given his own curious family background, I don't know that we have to automatically presume Gibson is innocent until proven guilty.
"I haven't seen The Believer, but any movie that involves Jewish nazis can't be all bad (if only he were gay it would have been a trifecta."
Heeb — A Slur Of A Magazine