The power of storytelling is striking. Through all of time, humanity has told stories to chronicle history, retain and build culture and reinforce the lessons most important to us. Stories form the basis of our traditions.
Next week, Jews around the world will read from the Haggadah and recall one of the greatest stories ever told.
Journalists are storytellers of a different ilk. At the Cleveland Jewish News and Columbus Jewish News, we chronicle the stories of the day that hum through our communities. We chronicle milestones and events, triumphs and failures, and the stories of family and community history.
During the past several weeks, we have been chronicling an unfolding story all will long remember: how we persevered through the first pandemic in a century. This is a story being written, chapter by chapter, family by family and life by life. There will be stories of inspiration, of tenderness and generosity, and yes, of tears and grief.
It is significant that you are reading this column in our annual Passover issue. In a normal year, we would tell the stories of families gathering around the seder table, of interesting and unique traditions, of the bitterness of slavery and the eventual release, and the story of Moses and the burning bush.
As we all know, this is not a normal year. Seders will be smaller, with families sheltered in their homes. Digital seders driven on Skype and Zoom will combine families and intertwine our communities.
The CJN is committed to bringing you the stories of these unusual and special seders. Informing our readers and reinforcing the communities of Northeast and Central Ohio through story is our mission and our passion. Now, as our fight against COVID-19 mandates that we increasingly isolate, these stories are more important than ever.
The realities of COVID-19, however, have imposed restrictions on how we are able to serve the community. The Cleveland and Columbus Jewish Publication Companies provide events, specialty publications, news coverage and advertising through print and digital communications. The most difficult economic conditions in our 56-year history have forced us to cancel or reschedule events and dramatically cut back specialty publications. The newspapers have been affected, along with our partners in restaurants, retail, automotive and other small businesses closing or cutting back.
As an independent, community-owned publishing and multimedia company, we are making temporary adjustments that reflect these economic realities yet allow us to continue serving our communities. Effective with this issue, we are combining the weekly Cleveland Jewish News and biweekly Columbus Jewish News. The Cleveland Jewish News and Columbus Jewish News will be published at least twice a month and delivered on Fridays. Plans to publish a third issue each month in Cleveland are being considered, pending improving economic conditions.
Although we are temporarily reducing our print product, please visit our websites (cjn.org and columbusjewishnews.com) daily to see the many original stories about our community. Our dedicated and award-winning staff is working from their homes to tell the stories of our communities.
Local news organizations cannot be successful without a strong connection with their communities. We feel this connection with your emails, your comments, your readership and your advertising support.
Now, more than ever, if you’re not a subscriber, please consider a subscription, or give one as a gift at cjn.org/subscribe.
Make a tax-deductible donation to the Cleveland Jewish News Foundation at cjn.org/foundation to help further our mission of keeping our words alive.
If you are a business, please consider purchasing an ad. Contact Adam Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a consumer, frequent the business of an advertiser. Let’s make sure we support the retailers in our neighborhoods who still are providing services and products we all need. And when we’re all able to resume some sense of normalcy in our lives, and the shelter-in-place order is lifted, we’re certain we’ll all do our part to rush back to those stores and restaurants that were forced to close temporarily, to help those proprietors and their employees resume their business operations. They are our neighbors.
We encourage you to share our stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In our last issues, you read about the amazing work being done by our Federations in mobilizing the community throughout the state. And the efforts of JFSA, JFS, United Way and HFLA. These and so many other inspiring stories can be found online and on our Facebook pages. Please follow us if you’re not already.
In these pages today, you’ll read about Marla Berkowitz, the deaf interpreter who has become a familiar face at Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily press conferences. You’ll read how local organizations are stepping up to help those in need. There’s a story on how to make Passover feel normal for special needs families. You’ll also read about Drake Grossman, a Bexley teen who performed more than a mitzvah for an Israel Defense Forces soldier he’d never met.
And there’s much, much more.
We’ve partnered with our friends at AJC, a leading global Jewish advocacy organization, to tell inspiring stories of those around us who are worthy of the hashtag #BeAMensch. We’re also pledging our support to Values-in-Action, a nonprofit organization based in Cleveland, as it works to spread kindness and positivity during this difficult time with its #JustBeKind initiative. You can follow them @JustBeKindUSA on Twitter and Facebook.
Know of someone around you who is going out of their way to help others during the pandemic? Please send it to email@example.com, so we can share it with others in our communities.
Communities such as ours have the collective strength to survive challenges like COVID-19. Our friends and neighbors help one another. The Cleveland and Columbus Jewish Publication Companies are here to build our community, to tell our stories.
Passover tradition tells us that next year, we aspire to be in Jerusalem. We offer an addendum. Next year, may we be healthy, and celebrate as Jews, together.
Kevin S. Adelstein is Publisher and CEO of the Cleveland Jewish News and President of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company
David R. Hertz II is chairman of the Cleveland Jewish News Board of Directors