I received an unexpected call the other day. The voice on the other end was welcoming and reassuring, coming from a man I have great admiration and respect for as a proven community leader.
“I was surprised I didn’t receive the CJN last Friday,” he said.
I explained that the economic duress from the pandemic forced the Cleveland Jewish News to reduce its weekly publication to twice a month until businesses reopened and our advertisers returned. It was the first time in recent memory that the CJN had not gone out on a Friday to the Greater Cleveland Jewish community.
Thankfully, this didn’t sit well with the community leader. In fact, it didn’t sit well with a number of readers who reached out to the CJN to express concern and disappointment.
After further discussion about the economics of the CJN, the community leader wished me a happy Pesach and hung up.
A few hours later, he called back. The CJN’s struggles were unacceptable for a community in need of information and entertainment – in other words, a newspaper. So the caller – Steve Hoffman, chairman of the board of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation – said the foundation was going to provide a donation to help keep the newspaper’s words alive and in the hands of readers every Friday. It’s important to note, Joe Mandel, of blessed memory, was one of the founding members of the CJN 56 years ago.
Steve had more news. The David and Inez Myers Foundation decided that it too wanted to help ensure we publish every week.
I wanted to cry.
It really shouldn’t have surprised me. The CJN’s connection to the Jewish community is something any news organization would envy. It is based on the value we bring, and the passion we have for chronicling the daily ebbs and flows of Jewish life in Northeast and now, Central Ohio.
News organizations that lack this cohesion and credibility with their communities do not last long. They certainly don’t fare well in a crisis. But the Greater Cleveland Jewish community certainly is demonstrating the strength of its bond with this news organization.
After learning of the foundations’ generosity, Barry Feldman, a community leader and board chair of Jewish National Fund Northern Ohio, made an individual commitment of his own.
This, my friends, is the strength of our community. It’s the strength of Jewish Cleveland. The CJN is, after all, YOUR community news organization.
These financial gifts are generous and incredibly meaningful, and will certainly be impactful in allowing us to carry out the CJN mission for the foreseeable future. It is the intent, however, of each such donor to see those grants magnified with others like it. The hope is to ensure the CJN continues as a vibrant weekly newspaper, in addition to publishing around the clock on cjn.org.
Our community has shown its strength in so many forms, from so many people and for so many years. This is a time in our history where the needs at home are great. We shall continue to do our part by providing essential weekly news, features and advertising to our dedicated readers. Once circumstances allow, we will resume our special events such as 18 Difference Makers, our planned evening with reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (which has been rescheduled for Sept. 8) and our 12 Under 36 evening honoring young professionals.
If you’re in a position to show your support for keeping the words of the Cleveland Jewish News alive, feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or provide a gift subscription at cjn.org/subscribe for someone who would enjoy learning more about the Jewish community, and for the good and welfare of your independent, community-owned newspaper and community.
The second call from Steve Hoffman was brief.
“So, Kevin, you’re going to publish a newspaper every week, right?” he asked.
Yes, Steve, we will indeed publish a newspaper every week. Thanks to the generosity and support of you and the Mandel Foundation and Lee Kohrman, president of the Myers Foundation. And other community leaders like Barry Feldman.
The strength of our community. The strength of Jewish Cleveland. It’s why I took this job.
Kevin S. Adelstein is Publisher and CEO of the Cleveland Jewish News and President of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company