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Jewish Journal

A Community’s Voice Lost

by Michael Aushenker

March 29, 2001 | 7:00 pm

In February 1997, the L.A. Jewish Voice, a weekly published by Selwin Gerber and a group of investors, threw down the gauntlet in the arena of Los Angeles' Jewish press. With high-end production values, the Voice (no relation to Samuel Gach's Jewish Voice newspaper) boasted some impressive celebrity covers -- Monty Hall, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Howard Stern -- and challenged the established Jewish press with a personable, pop-culture edge. The Voice's Pico-Robertson offices housed an energetic staff , including several future Jewish Journal employees -- Religion Editor Julie Gruenbaum Fax, former Calendar Editor William Yelles and this reporter.

"It didn't fit into any of the categories," says Fax, then the Voice's managing editor. People's Palette, for instance, provided a poetry/art corner for readers.

Voice editor Ari Noonan, now a writer for Heritage Southwest Jewish Press, had high hopes for the new publication.

"Our mission was 50 percent to lead a community in the direction it should go and 50 percent to reflect what it is," he now recalls.

The mission was short-lived. By the afternoon of April 18, Fax, eyes moist from emotion, entered the Voice's production room. She notified employees, hard at work on the next issue, that it would be the last.

Insiders pinned the Voice's abrupt end on poor budgeting, high production values, and overzealous expansion (55,000 copies a week distributed all over L.A. County). Crumpled copies of that last issue (Leonard Nimoy on the cover) lingered in bright yellow distribution boxes for weeks. The Voice had lasted 11 issues.

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