Thursday, February 6, 2014 | return to: columns, the column


the column |  Everyone wants a little good news

by sue fishkoff

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I can’t imagine breakfast without my newspapers. I get the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times delivered to my door every morning, and while I reach for my coffee with one hand, I reach for a newspaper with the other.

Front page, scan the headlines. Quick look at the arts section to see new movies and theater listings. Then the obits, hoping it’s no one I know. Finally I peruse the wedding and engagement announcements, hoping it is someone I know.

sue_fishkoffEverybody likes good news.

For 118 years, J. has been your community publication. We are not profit-driven and never have been; we are here to serve you, pure and simple.

Well, maybe not so simple. Bay Area Jewish life is anything but. Nevertheless, even with all of our complexity and diversity, we have much in common. That is what makes us a community.

Everyone who reads J. is connecting to that community in different ways. Some want to read about Israel from a Jewish source. Others like to see what interesting things their fellow Jews are doing in far-flung parts of the Bay Area. Others enjoy the divergent points of view in our opinion and advice columns.

But a section that most everyone seems to enjoy, regardless of affiliation, denomination or politics, is what we in the business call “lifecycle events.” This holds true even if we don’t know the people in them. But in the Jewish community, we often do. Who’s gotten engaged and how did they meet? Who is getting married? Who just had a baby, and what do we think of their name choice? Whose child graduated from college? Who is celebrating a silver or golden wedding anniversary?

Announcements of these happy occasions have always appeared in our pages. Starting this week, they will be free. B’nai mitzvah announcements have been free for years, and now every simcha will enjoy the same treatment. Photos, too.

Lifecycle events are the fabric of all of our lives, and what better way to share the good news than in these pages?

This change is part of ongoing conversations here about our role as your Jewish community publication. Now that we’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we’ve started applying for grants and have ramped up our fundraising efforts, leading us to think more deeply about our mission, what we bring to the community, and how we can bring more. Lots more.

Change may be coming, but some things will always stay the same.

Just outside the front door of our office in downtown San Francisco is a framed copy of the front page of the Jewish Community Bulletin, one of our predecessors, from Jan. 4, 1946.

It was a terrible time in Jewish history — the full horrors of the Holocaust had come to light, and Jewish refugees from the DP camps were still being denied entry into Palestine. The front page of the Bulletin was filled with the news: In Washington, Congress had just passed the so-called Palestine resolution urging the U.S. government “to use its good offices with the British government to secure the free immigration of Jews to Palestine,” while in San Francisco, a mass rally to support Jewish Palestine was being planned.

And right down the middle of the page appeared an editorial titled “A Pledge,” an impassioned piece by the newspaper’s leadership that outlined what it saw as the responsibilities of a Jewish publication:

“To defend unfalteringly the ideals of American democracy”;

“To present accurately and without bias the changing scenes of Jewish life”;

“To report fairly and impartially the activities of all Jewish organizations and to this end to open its columns freely to them”;

“To strengthen Jewish morale and to serve as a medium for the exchange of views and ideas.”

Those words still ring true, and the pledge the Bulletin made to its readers nearly 70 years ago is one we at J. make to you today.

J. is the voice of the entire Bay Area Jewish community, from the federations and synagogues to the artists, activists, farmers and scholars, from young families to the elderly. J. is a forum for Jewish conversations, a purveyor of news of Jewish interest, a place to examine the incredible creativity of Jews in the Bay Area.

And it is a chronicle of local Jewish life. We want to tell your stories and share your milestones. That’s why we’re here.

Sue Fishkoff is the editor of J. and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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