Email from Daniel Brezniak re “The Bridge” and Alan Crown

The Bridge

In the 1960s and 1970s one saw the reappearance of the same cultural influences, refreshed and reinvigorated by post-war Anglo-Jewish migration, in such journals as Contact in Melbourne (which ran for three issues) and The Bridge (In NSW) which lasted for eleven years.  

The Bridge was established in 1962 when the then Israel Consul in Sydney, the late Shammai Zvi Laor, sat down with Joachim Schneeweiss, one of the community’s leaders and Alan Crown, an academic immigrant from the UK, and discussed ways to establish and finance a literary magazine. In 1963 the Australian Jewish Quarterly Foundation was established (it is still technically in existence though moribund) and in 1964, under the editorship of Hyam Brezniak the Foundation began to publish The Bridge a reasonably substantial quarterly which had links with the Jewish Quarterly in England. The editorial panel and content of The Bridge reflects the influence of the cross- currents in the Jewish migration pattern. Hyam Brezniak’s editorship was the cause of a series of outbursts by the extreme right winger, Frank Knopfelmacher who was convinced that Brezniak had transferred the political outlook of the Unity team to The Bridge.43 Joachim Schneeweiss represented the cosmopolitan, culturally rich, German pre-war immigrant group acculturated to, but not dominated by, Australia. The author represented the continuing post-war migration from England, and others represented European cosmopolitanism or the Yiddish speaking, socialist oriented Polish migration. The printer who was both friend and committee member, was Walter Stone, an important figure in the Australian literary scene, 44 a ‘father’ to many small magazines and an active contributor to this journal. His close and friendly cooperation with the editorial team was the sole reason it was able to carry on for so long. In the end the lack of professional office editorial staff proved to be too great a burden. Shortly before it ceased publication in 1973 financial responsibility and the distribution of the journal was taken over by Louis Klein, the owner and publisher of the Australian Jewish Times , but this professional expertise was too late to offset the problems of a group of busy editors finding the material to keep the journal alive 45 when they were unable to pay contributors. The Australian Jewish Quarterly Foundation has published a number of pamphlets and one book, the tri-lingual collection of poetry In the Midst of the Night, in the Midst of Jerusalem by Yossi Gamzu, which appeared in 1977. 

There were two replacements for The Bridge. The first is the Melbourne Chronicle which was bi-lingual and was published by the “Kadimah” cultural centre in Melbourne, which was once a part of the Bundist Yiddish immigrant establishment. It was published as an annual, when formerly it appeared five times a year. Another journal, a quarterly, which began in October 1989, is Generation. Initially edited by Alan Charak and Mark Joel it describes itself as a ‘journal of Australian Jewish life, thought and community’, and numbers among its contributors an impressive array of both the older and younger community leaders. However, the journal was forced to close in December 2000.  

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