The Jewish Chronicle
It’s number 1000! Milestone for JC crossword
JC crossword appeared on 26 August, 2002 in the days of Ned Temko’s editorship. Today, we publish number 1000 in the series — a milesrone marked by the JC’s first jumbo grid.
Every one of the Jewish-themed crosswords I have set through the years has been a fresh compilation, with never a known duplicate. To the best of my knowledge the JC crosswordis unique in the world of Jewish newspapers and magazines.
I use a hybrid mixture of cryptic and non-cryptic clues, often with the Tanakh’s book, chapter and verse reference (yes — I’ve had a few brickbats down the years about incorrect references) and I make the most of what is actually quite a narrow field by employing Anglicised Hebrew, Yiddish, biblical characters, liturgy, personalities from the arts, sciences, politics and history, Israel and Middle East and whatever else I can note and record for a future crossword.
Take this cryptic clue as a typical example:
Clue: Book is first class, a humdinger from the very start (6)
I rotate from a library of grids, so the solution to this week’s 1 Across might be the twelve-lettered Yom Hazikaron, Keren Hayesod or Reuben Rivlin, whilst next week’s could be the eight-lettered Selichot, Kol Nidre or Chutzpah.
I like to believe that those who tackle the crossword find it fun, but potentially informative as well.
I make no apology for the use of snippets of Yiddish, because that language of the shtetls is fast dying out in today’s younger generation. If my use of Yiddish can help in just a tiny way in keeping the old culture alive a little longer, that would be worthwhile. One week’s solution may be broiges, shmendrick or hamantashen, another week’s could be oy gevalt, hak mir nicht kein tchainik or shlemazl and so on.
Setting the JC crossword has been a lot of fun but it has been personally educative, too, and I now have a great deal more of Judaism and the Jewish world under my belt than I had in 2002.
In the non-Jewish world, I also regularly set cryptic crosswords under my noms-de-plume of Cullen and Smurf in the Spectator, New Statesman, Saga Magazine and others.
One JC editor said to me that he thought the crossword was the next thing many readers turned to after scanning the social and personal columns. If that’s true, then I suppose the unique JC Jewish-themed crossword is generally well received.
For keeping the feature alive, my grateful thanks to yourselves, the JC’s readership.
Keep those pencils sharpened!