We believe that a community needs a local newspaper.
We’re not provincial enough to think that’s all it needs. A community needs international and national news; it needs the up-to-the-second information it can get online, as well as the more measured analysis and in-depth reporting that comes from the great national dailies.
But it also needs to know its own stories, the smaller, intensely specific ones that weave it together, that give it heft and memory and a shared future.
When it’s the Jewish community, we believe that it also needs a shared vocabulary and history, which provides a particular point of view. That’s not to say that it provides agreement — that might be true in other communities, but we Jews tend to like arguing — but it does give us shared tools to argue with.
We also believe that there is something about a physical newspaper, a tangible object, something that you can hold in your hand and jab at with your finger and carry around with you as you move from the kitchen to the living room and then relax and read, that is satisfying in a way that headlines on your phone just can’t be.
What, you might be wondering impatiently, if you’ve gotten this far, is this about?
It’s a way to tell you about our new adventure.
We’re branching out into a new newspaper.
Here at the Jewish Standard, we’ve been in the business of weaving our community together since 1931. We’ve moved north together, leaving Jersey City for greener Teaneck (physically, that is; we still cover Jersey City), branching out into the rest of Bergen County, then taking on Rockland and more of Hudson.
But you already know all that.
We have bound copies of our paper back in our office; they trace the community’s history as we watched European Jews suffer as World War II approached, the horror as we learned more and more about what happened to them, the joy as the war ended, the elation as Israel was created, the bated breaths as it was attacked, the overwhelming relief as it survived. There’s so much unself-conscious social history in our page; the ads alone tell us more about us as an evolving people than the most ponderous think piece might.
We also help our community by providing a forum for our advertisers, who can show our readers the goods and services they offer.
And now we’re ready to cover another community too. MetroWest. The towns that are the Newark galut, the places where Jews streamed when they left Newark. (It was a huge surprise to me, and might have been to you as well, to learn that the Jews of MetroWest do not trace their ancestry to the Lower East Side and then to Brooklyn and the Bronx. No. Not at all. They go back to Newark. We’re more like the Scots and the Irish, both Celtic peoples, but ensconced on our separate islands.)
But we are one people at heart. And that’s history. The truth is that we’re very similar.
We were enormously saddened when the New Jersey Jewish News stopped publishing. Even before the pandemic, this has been a hard time for print publications. As covid forced the economy to close, wreaking absolute havoc on so many of our lives, many newspapers, including the NJJN and the Jewish Week, which had taken it over, foundered.
But we did not. We’re still here. And so we’re bringing back the New Jersey Jewish News. We feel that it is our obligation to try to save another Jewish newspaper.
We firmly believe that the two communities much in common. We share demographics, socioeconomics, and basic worldviews and assumptions. So now we will tell two sets of stories; most of the time they’ll be separate, but sometimes they’ll join. We are going to figure it out as we go.
We would like to wish everyone a sweet, healthy, and productive new year. We hope that it will be sweeter and healthier than last year — really, 5780 has left us nowhere to go but up. We hope that 5781 will be better for all of us.
Ketivah v’chatimah tovah to all our readers, all your families, and the whole community.