Sources close to the Forward report that Seth Lipsky, editor of its English-language edition, is being forced out after a decade of defying not only the Forward Association’s traditional liberal agenda but its basic standards of editorial decency.The most recent example of Lipsky’s nasty streak — and perhaps the final straw — was a headline in the March 31 issue: “If Police Spot A Clown In The Capitol, It Might Be Steve Solender On The Job,” referring to the president and chief executive officer of the United Jewish Communities. The next week, 39 Jewish leaders from 19 cities sent a letter to the Forward saying “each of us has become accustomed to the Forward’s thirst for controversy, conflict and contention in its reporting [but] this
headline simply crosses any boundary of decency or fair commentary. … It is misleading, does not remotely connect to the editorial content and is malicious in its bias.”Lawrence Rubin, the executive vice chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said the Forward “hasn’t maintained journalistic standards.”A key leader in the Jewish organizational world, who asked not to be identified, noted that the Forward is now paying the price for verbally attacking Jewish leaders and organizations on a regular basis.The primary owners of the Forward are philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, who has been loyal to Lipsky, and the Forward Association.Those close to the situation said taking the Yiddish out of the paper was one thing, but Lipsky taking out the Yiddishkeit was quite another — often editorializing in news articles and rarely displaying the vibrant love of the Jewish community that was the old Yiddish Forward’s signature.It became known that after Sam Norich took over as general manager of the association in 1998, he began pressing for Lipsky’s removal. Norich, the former director of YIVO, made it clear that he did not feel the Forward’s tradition was being well served, according to a source familiar with the developments.Norich and newspaper chairman Harold Ostroff declined to comment, citing the ongoing negotiations.Under Lipsky, the Forward reportedly was losing $2 million annually, with a national readership of about 25,000. Despite those sobering numbers, he was pushing the Forward Association to turn the weekly into a daily.“If Lipsky had succeeded in creating a going concern, he might have gotten away with it, but he didn’t create a going concern,” said Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg.nResearchers are too often unsung, but Randy Herschaft, a Jewish Week researcher from 1985 to1997 and now with the Associated Press, won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting this week as part of an AP investigative unit. Herschaft was described in a recent issue of the Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal as someone whose “gentle demeanor masks his tenaciousness as an investigator.”The award-winning investigation concerned a Korean War civilian massacre in the hamlet of No Gun Ri.Herschaft made more than 50 trips to libraries, visited military archives, checked U.S. and European newspapers, and consulted every available bibliography and index to periodical literature to confirm such a massacre was never reported. Herschaft interviewed witnesses and survivors, and found records discrediting the military’s denial of the massacre. The AP then launched a broader investigation.n The New York Times (April 7) featured a front-page headline: “Israel is slowly shedding harsh treatment of Arabs.” The Tikkun (March/April) Passover supplement adds, “We are proud of the steps Israel has taken to change the situation,” but we have “become the face of the oppressor to another people.”When it comes to the vengeful passage recited after Elijah comes, the Tikkun supplement offers: “It is appropriate for us to speak about our own anger about the Holocaust and the way that the American government and peoples around the world failed to respond to our cries and our suffering. What was done to us was wrong, disgusting, an assault on the sanctity of human life and on God. It is with righteous indignation that Jews have demanded that a God Who treasures justice mete out justice to those who have abused us.”There was no indication of what justice Tikkun has in mind for the Palestinians, the Syrians and others with unavenged blood on their hands. Or is God’s vengeance only for Europeans?Jonathan Schorsch, son of Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Ismar Schorsch, has joined the Tikkun staff, with an important and provocative article, “Making Judaism Cool,” in the current issue.Schorsch writes, “Jewish cool signifies a kind of amusing and perverse but much needed tikkun, or repair, for Judaism and our culture at large. Still, isn’t there something a little wrong here? Cool marks ironic distance, detachment … an overemphasis on style.”He credits Shlomo Carlebach and his chasidim for introducing “a Sephardi/Kabbalistic /neo-chasidic nusach for prayer, a rebellion against the insipid Protestant harmonies of American Conservative and Reform synagogues and homes.” Schorsch quotes the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching: “There are two traits that obstruct one from truly proceeding on the path [of getting close to God]. The first one is irrational anger, and the other is sarcasm.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency contributed to the Forward report.