Every time I put together one of these special five-year anniversary issues, I am both thankful for and awed by the community’s commitment to this newspaper. Even though I have owned it now for a quarter of its existence (!) and have experienced everything it has taken to keep publishing it, I still feel like it’s a miracle that, while so many other newspapers have folded, the Jewish Independent continues.
When I look back at old issues of the JI and the Jewish Western Bulletin, I get to see time move in almost an instant. In one sitting, I can follow the creation, the lifetime and, often, the transformation, or occasionally even the end, of a communal organization. I can see how a cohort of community members transitions into a whole new generation of dedicated volunteers and generous philanthropists. I can relate to the financial and other challenges that every former publisher and editor has gone through. I can feel the support of community leaders, readers and advertisers, who consistently have come to the rescue of a paper that has pretty much always been on the edge of solvency. I can share in so many people’s happinesses and sadnesses, their kudos and their complaints. I can appreciate the hard work of the paper’s publishers, writers and staff in every decade and that of countless community members, which has gotten us to today.
The community and the JI/JWB have survived the Great Depression, the Second World War, numerous recessions and other hardships. Currently, we are in the midst of surviving a global pandemic together. It has been a difficult year for all of us, to say the least. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having moments of despair and fear, and not just during COVID. I know how privileged and lucky I am, both personally and professionally, but, sometimes, I need reminding.
During this past year, as my few staff have switched to working at home or semi-retired, I have had more opportunities to speak and email with community members and others. While not a replacement for face-to-face encounters, it has been one of the pluses of this hard-earned +1 year of the newspaper, which had to postpone our special 90th anniversary issue until now. It is no exaggeration to say that we have only made it to 90+1 because of you. And not only your financial support, for which I am extremely grateful, but your indomitable spirit. We have pages to print because there are events to cover; classes, lectures and performances to attend; opinions to share; ambitious projects to promote; endeavours for which to raise funds; people offering help and people in need of assistance; people and milestones to celebrate; and losses to mourn. In this very newspaper you are holding in your hands or looking at on screen, there are stories on all of these aspects of our community.
Every time I prepare an issue of the JI, I’m buoyed by the promise that each paper holds – that there is a future, unknown as it may be, towards which we are all working. And, every time I look at past issues of the JIand the JWB, I am inspired by all that we’ve accomplished; by the no small feat that we are still here, showing up for one another and trying to make the world at large, or at least our small corner of it, a little bit better.
In my forays into the newspaper’s archives for this special edition, I came across, by chance, a few pithy sayings, no doubt intended to be motivational but, more pragmatically, to fill the small spaces that, in the olden days of typesetting, were hard to fill at the end of a column of news. From 1933 and 1934, they impart messages that could apply to any generation: “Resolve to be thyself, and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery”; “Some people can’t have a word together without having words”; “Better is one smile from the living than fountains of tears for the dead.”
I have no idea from where these aphorisms came, but they made me smile when I came across them. This newspaper never fails to surprise me. I just love it. And I thank all of you for helping me fill its pages and keep the presses rolling. May we all go from strength to strength.