Is it possible to take a holiday like Rosh Hashanah, which focuses so strongly on human affairs, and apply it to a nonhuman thing, like, say, a community paper? On the surface, this doesn’t make sense: Everything about Rosh Hashanah is about what we do as humans — taking stock of our behavior, repenting for our sins and renewing ourselves for the coming year.
I’ve never heard of a rabbi who gave a Rosh Hashanah sermon on the importance of renewing the décor in our homes or the design or content of our magazines.
And yet this year, as we approached that time of year when we work on renewing ourselves, I noticed I had the same itch to renew a “thing” I work on: the Jewish Journal.
This was not a “religious” process — it was more of an instinctive process whereby my partner Rob Eshman and I looked at a good Jewish community paper and asked the eternal Jewish question: How can we make it better?
The result is what you’re now holding in your hands, what we’re calling, in honor of Rosh Hashanah, a renewal of the Jewish Journal.
To kick off this renewal, we asked ourselves: How can we freshen up the overall design of the paper and make different sections stand out? In essence, how can we make the whole experience of going through the Journal a more engaging one?
And, if we had to summarize our mission in three words that would go on our masthead, what would they be?
The three words we came up with were: “Connect. Inform. Inspire.”
Our New Year’s resolution for 5773 will be to deliver on these three words as well as or better than we ever have.
“Connect” signifies that our first mission is one of connection: To connect Jews of all stripes to their community, their tradition and one another, while also connecting the larger community to ours.
“Inform” is the heart of what we do, and it’s how we create these connections. We seek interesting stories, important news, insightful commentary and practical information, and deliver it all in a clear and engaging way. We are storytellers, in the ancient tradition of our people.
Finally, if we do our job right, we aim to inspire you.
“Inspire” is a big canvas. It can mean inspiring you to get involved with a local charity; to learn more about Zionism and visit Israel; to find new meaning in a Jewish holiday or a Torah portion of the week; to explore the rich and fascinating tapestry of Jewish culture; or even to reach beyond the Jewish community to heal your city, your country and your world.
In this spirit of inspiration, you’ll notice we have added what Rob Eshman (true foodie that he is) has coined “spiceboxes.”
These spiceboxes are little squares scattered throughout the paper that showcase items like the Yiddish or Hebrew word of the week, poetry, moments in Jewish history, life tips, Jewish humor, spiritual “soul bites,” great photos and anything else we feel will surprise and delight you. What’s a good meal without good spices?
And speaking of variety, our new “big word” graphic look will better highlight our coverage of our community’s diversity, which we plan to make even more extensive with the addition of some new sections.
On the advertising front, we have pioneered a new “brandraising” model whereby philanthropists donate branding campaigns to the causes of their choice. So far, through our new creative division, JJ Branding, we have initiated campaigns for nonprofit brands such as Hiddush, Coachart, Spark and American Diabetes Association, as well as for Occidental College and the Nissan Leaf. (If you’d like to donate your own branding campaign to your favorite cause, don’t be shy — contact me.)
Our Web site and mobile platforms are growing and are continually being “renewed.” We now host exclusively more than 80 bloggers, including the renowned Rosner’s Domain. This month, we’re launching Shmuel Rosner’s new book on the 2012 election, “The Jewish Vote” (JewishJournal Books), as well as an innovative new site, HollywoodJournal.com, which will cover “The Soul of the Biz.”
One thing that will never change at the Journal is our expectation of … criticism. Yes, criticism. We not only expect it, we embrace it. It helps us serve you better.
In fact, this is what helped us get to this “newish” Journal in the first place — listening to your feedback, ideas and critiques.
Maybe that’s why it was so natural for us to apply the Rosh Hashanah mitzvah of self-correction to our paper: Because you, our beloved readers, never let us forget where and when we go wrong!
On that note, please keep the feedback coming, and may we all be blessed for a year of spiritual growth, joyful times and continuous renewal of everything we cherish.
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.