FINAL EDITION: Review lived up to its mission
Jewish Review ends 53 years of service
By PAUL HAIST, Jewish Review
article created on: 2012-01-01T00:00:00
With this edition, the Jewish Review comes to the end of its 53 years of service to a family of readers in Portland, across Oregon and in southwest Washington.
It is natural at such a moment to look back at the history of this newspaper, one of our most visible communal institutions, the one Jewish institution that routinely has touched more lives here than any other.
When the paper was established in 1959, its editor was the distinguished Portland State College professor Ben Padrow z”l, who I remember and admire yet, as I know many others do as well.
In the first issue of the Review, published on Jan 1, like this final edition of the Review (we are nothing if not symmetrical), Padrow set forth the mission of the new paper.
“This paper will seek to reflect the crazy-quilt pattern of a bewildering and swiftly changing world—and still try to remain close to the Jewish Community which it serves,” he wrote. “We shall function as a free newspaper—devoted to the conscience of the Jewish community and serving to unify all.”
I believe the Review has consistently lived up to Padrow’s vision.
In recent weeks I have spent rather a lot of time looking over past editions of the paper. The pages of the Jewish Review are filled with good reporting and good writing from a great variety of editors, staff reporters and other contributors.
From the outset, the paper focused most closely on the works of the local Jewish federation, its partner agencies and Israel. Many of the stories from the earliest editions of the paper read remarkably like stories in the most recent editions.
The great majority of the stories are about tikkun olam, here at home and around the world. The themes of the reporting have remained largely the same, only the names have changed.
The Jewish Review has carefully chronicled the history of this Jewish community and its love and concern for Jewish communities everywhere.
The similarity of stories old and new in the Review is disappointing in some instances. The tangled and intractable stalemate involving Israel, most of its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians (and much of the rest of the world) is as much a Gordian knot today as it was in 1959 and before.
In other cases, the similarity of stories is reassuring. Year after year the community was adjured in the pages of the Review to step forward and dig deep to help its fellow Jews and many others. The pages of the Jewish Review comprise a profound testimony to the community’s unwavering commitment to tikkun olam.
When I came to this paper on Jan. 15, 1992, I thought I’d stay a year—time enough to write some new stories, polish up my resumé and move on to another daily somewhere—I had taken a sailing hiatus for a few years from the newspaper world.
When Henry Blauer suggested at one of the first Jewish Review Committee meetings after my arrival that I might retire at this paper—I was 45 at the time—I rolled my eyes mentally and thought, “Little chance of that.” Now, here I am at 65, on my way out the door at last.
My time at the Review has been a mixed experience.
Accustomed to large daily newspapers, I had to learn how to create an institutional newspaper that served the goals of its owner, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, while also adhering to the values that make a newspaper good.
Those are not necessarily exclusive, but occasionally they can be challenging.
The best newspapers are independent newspapers, unbeholden to any interest beyond the core values of journalism that make both for good newspapers and good democracies.
However, institutional niche newspapers such as the Jewish Review serve a vital role within their community—and one not served by other newspapers. With careful leadership and an understanding publisher, they can serve, fairly well, two masters: the values of good journalism and the goals of their publisher. It’s a compromise.
I am grateful for the years I worked with Charles R. Schiffman in his former role as federation executive and Review publisher. He understood the tension between straight journalism and institutional journalism and he made it possible for me to do this for so long—and there were not many bumpy times.
I am grateful also for the many acquaintances and friendships I made here among community members and leaders who I am honored to have known.
Several members of the Jewish Review Committee will always have a warm place in my memory for their friendship and their help.
Among my colleagues here at the Review, City Editor Deborah Moon, who I was able to hire about a year after I was hired, will also always live fondly in my memory. She is a thorough professional, a model of patience and good humor under pressure, and a constant pleasure to work with.
I will miss Deborah, Advertising Sales Director Cynthia Klutznick, Calendar Editor/Photographer LeeAnn Gauthier and every person who has been part of the Jewish Review since Jan. 15, 1992.
It was an honor to be entrusted with the Jewish Review.