New Voices was a new experience for Marita Gringaus.
The Odessa native, an economics major at Arizona State University, was introduced to the independent Jewish student magazine at the United Jewish Communities’ 2001 General Assembly in Chicago. There she met Daniel Treiman, now the publication’s outgoing editor, at a “Do The Write Thing” session for aspiring Jewish journalists. Later she wrote an article about a seder she attended in Nepal, and became a regular reader.
“I loved it. It was hip,” Gringaus said of New Voices. Now marking its 10th year, New Voices hosted an anniversary celebration earlier this month at the Manhattan apartment of a former editor and this week sponsored a national conference for Jewish student journalists at New York University’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. The publication, established by the Jewish Student Press Service, is distributed on some 350 campuses in the United States and Canada. It has published muckraking stories on such issues as the March of the Living, birthright israel, and Jewish fraternities.
“It opened my interest in a lot of issues,” says Gringaus, 23, whose émigré family in Brooklyn was not involved in Jewish activities. She now works for the Israeli Consulate here as an information officer. New Voices “showed me you can be modern and identify with Judaism.”
The magazine, which appears six times annually during the academic year, is edited in a sub-leased office in Midtown Manhattan.
“It helped Jewish students to identify … what was going on on campus and in the Middle East,” says Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt, who contributed stories to JSPS in the early 1970s and occasionally published the service’s stories when he was editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times.
As student activism and the number of university Jewish newspapers waned during the 1980s, JSPS decided to produce its own publication.
The first issue of New Voices came out in 1991; it missed one subsequent year — hence its current 10th anniversary. Its annual budget, largely supplied by private foundations, is about $125,000. “It’s a struggle every year,” Treiman says.
Each issue features a combination of flashy graphics and edgy writing. For example, “The Chinese Issue,” with a chopsticks-wielding Orthodox Jew on the cover, emphasized the “strong relations between Jews and Chinese.” A spoof issue announced that “Orthodox Scientist at Yeshiva University Discovers New Service Between Mincha and Ma’ariv.” The most recent issue, “Half-Jewish,” featured children born to intermarried parents.
“Because we’re youth-run, we’re able to speak to Jewish students in a voice that is appealing to them,” says Treiman, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. “We’ve become an excellent training ground. In the past year alone, 59 young writers representing 38 campuses around the world contributed to New Voices.” Alumni of New Voices and JSPS include editors at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Sh’ma, Lilith, the New Jersey Jewish News, and Daniela Gerson, who succeeds Treiman this year.
New Voices has a definite progressive-pluralistic orientation, says Gerson, a Brown University graduate. “Questioning,” she calls it. “We offer information … from a critical perspective.”
At Brown she wrote a piece for New Voices about the growing movement of Israeli reservists who refuse to serve in the territories, two years before the topic grabbed the attention of the general press.
“The Middle East Conflict Hits Campus” was the topic of a session at this week’s conference, as was “Writing a Pro-Israel Op-Ed.”A few dozen young journalists attended. Gringaus, who has taken out a subscription to New Voices, was one of them. “My interest has not ended,” she says.