Annual messages often begin with the observation that it is hard to believe another year has already come and gone. This year, though, it is surely not the case: it’s been a long, complicated, conflicted year with continued partisan rancor and fundamental disagreements about local, national and international issues — as well as about the media and even about the definition of facts.
As a result, we welcome the end of this year and look ahead to 5778 with hope that it will bring our community and our country peace, progress and prosperity — and constructive communications. We redouble our commitment at The Jewish Week to help that happen.
This past year we at The Jewish Week were keenly aware of our mandate to present the issues, and a range of ideas and opinions, as fairly as possible amidst a toxic environment of political and ideological rancor. Among the highlights of our coverage in 5777: President Trump’s influence on the community, from the vantage point of left and right; timely reporting and discussion on whether rabbis should officiate at interfaith marriages; the Western Wall-prayer debate and conversion crisis, further straining ties between much of American Jewry and the government of Israel; the opioid crisis in the Orthodox community, which led to an outpouring of response; and, most recently the push for more open discussions regarding mental health disorders in the Jewish community.
Our goal remains to present different voices and to stimulate (and, sometimes, host) constructive discussion with respect for others’ opinions, even in the face of deep disagreement. Whether in the pages of the newspaper, on our website, or at our community forums, we hope our efforts to inform and to challenge and, perhaps, inspire our readers to reflect and act on today’s pressing issues have had some success.
We also look back with gratitude for our relationships with you, our readers, and our communal partners, business partners and the team that makes up our board and staff. This includes the communities we now proudly serve in New Jersey through our recent publishing agreement. Over the past year, we have sought to bring the same commitment to journalistic excellence and community building to our work in the Greater MetroWest, Heart of New Jersey, and Princeton-Mercer-Bucks communities.
A number of projects of The Jewish Week Media Group help further our mission of community-building and we deeply appreciate the support many of you have shown—by your attendance and your generosity—for these efforts, which include:
The Conversation, an open, off-the-record retreat for opinion leaders, volunteers, professionals and others involved in Jewish life, just completed its 14th annual retreat. More than 700 people have participated in the program, which seeks to connect creative Jews from around the country and encourage them to dialogue and network together.
Write On For Israel will soon begin educating its 16th cohort of high school juniors embarking on an intensive two-year program of classes, discussions and travel to Israel to learn about utilizing journalism and other communications to build stronger support for and understanding of Israel before they get to campus.
Fresh Ink for Teens continues to serve as a vibrant online magazine written by and for teens, helping to train and encourage emerging young Jewish writers.
The Jewish Week Investigative Journalism Fund provides in-depth reporting on key issues in Jewish and world affairs — the kind of enterprise journalism that goes well beyond the time and resources usually available to a local news organization.
Finally, our Jewish Week Community Forums bring together newsmakers and opinion leaders in timely and open conversations with the community. We’ve been proud to host journalists, political leaders, authors, educators and religious leaders for more than two decades, and we are planning a full roster of forums in the coming year.
Many of these programs would not happen without your support (provided to The Jewish Week through our charitable fund at FJC.org). We hope you’ll continue to contribute as we seek to sustain and strengthen these programs.
Another way to support The Jewish Week is through our upcoming Gala on Nov. 28 (at the Pierre Hotel; details here). Every two years we gather to thank our readers, supporters, partners and friends, and to honor those who have made a special contribution to our community and to journalism. This year we have three prominent honorees—Peter Wang, our board chair and immediate past president will receive The Jewish Week Leadership Award; Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, will receive our Excellence in Journalism award; and Abigail Pogrebin, author and community leader, will receive our Community Leader Award.
Special thanks are due to our professional staff, led so ably by Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher, and Richard Waloff, associate publisher and chief revenue officer. To them and to the entire Jewish Week Media Group team, we offer heartfelt and hearty thanks.
Thanks are also due to our board of directors, a vital group of community leaders dedicated to strengthening Jewish life through the work of The Jewish Week Media Group. Their support, time and creative thinking, as well as their commitment to Jewish life, continue to propel us ahead in these challenging times.
In his column last week, Gary Rosenblatt wrote that The Conversation “seeks to provide a safe space for a wide variety of Jews to meet, network and struggle together with issues they feel are most important to 21st-century Jewish life … .”
We echo those comments, not just about The Conversation but as a fitting statement of the role of The Jewish Week. May the coming year bring us ever closer to our goal of informing and strengthening our community while providing a platform where we can talk, learn, share and respectfully disagree.
Finally, this message usually appears over my name and that of our board chair, Peter Wang, but this year is different. As noted above, Peter will be honored at this year’s Gala for his leadership at The Jewish Week and in our community. This year’s message provides a welcome opportunity to say how proud we are to work with Peter and look forward to paying tribute to him publicly.
We wish you and your families a year of good health, happiness and peace. Thanks to each of you for your interest and commitment.
President, Board of Directors