I was an avid reader and fan of The Jewish Press long before becoming a writer in its pages. Our publication recently celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the paper’s unprecedented impact on American Jewry.
The Jewish Press was the first English-language Jewish weekly published nationally in the United States. It was unique. It was printed in English, not Yiddish. It was unflinching in its Orthodox perspective, but took on many subjects that more timid publishers in the Jewish world would long avoid.
Its founder, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, was an incredible Torah scholar who understood the ways of the world. He combined his scholarship with a common-sense approach to tackle issues that affected Jews in a modern world.
The paper addressed sensitive subjects and issues that had, in the past, been swept under the proverbial Jewish rug. Alcoholism, drug use, spousal and sexual abuse, learning disabilities and more have been explored. Halachic perspective on organ transplants, fertility treatments, end-of-life issues and other scientific debates have also been examined.
Frum Jews enjoyed and read The Jewish Press. Over the years, an additional readership emerged. Because it was printed in English and contained such a blend of cutting-edge topical articles, in addition to traditional material, the paper has actually served as a tremendous source of kiruv (Jewish outreach).
Rabbi Klass was undaunting in his courageous approach to the publication. He used the pages of the newspaper to champion Jewish causes and issues. He used the influence of his position to help the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The newspaper continues this legacy of Jewish leadership today.
Mazel tov to the Klass, Mauer and Greenwald families. You have taken the mantle. You have continued in this extraordinary undertaking. You have and are making a difference. Thank you for being there. The Jewish community needs you now more than ever.