Wow. I still can’t believe I’m here speaking to you as the new editor of the Jewish News.
This is the first issue I’m overseeing in my new position, but I remember reading these pages as a child in Huntington Woods. The JN was one of the first print magazines I can recall seeing in the homes of my family and friends, and it played a big role in my own decision to enter journalism as a profession. Since I’ve been fortunate enough to work for organizations like NPR and The Atlantic over the years, I owe JN a tremendous amount of gratitude.
If you’re reading this, I imagine that, like me, you care about Detroit’s Jewish community. I remember the warm feelings of support I felt growing up. I remember my pride when I became a bar mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park. When I graduated from the University of Michigan and moved from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C., to Chicago to Paris, I would try to seek out a new Jewish community wherever I went. I must have attended services at more than a dozen different congregations, across many denominations. But I was never able to replicate the closeness and companionship of Detroit’s Jewish population.
So when JN Publisher Arthur Horwitz and Renaissance Media CEO Kevin Browett first approached me about this position, I recognized what an incredible opportunity it represented. That’s why I’m so excited to now play a role in fostering that invaluable sense of community for the next generation of JN readers.
Yes, I said “next generation,” and yes, I’m a Millennial. (Coming soon: Passover recipes for avocado-matzah toast!) I know the idea of change can be scary, but it’s no secret that the JN is in a difficult financial position. That’s kind of why I’m here in the first place. The modern media industry is struggling. But the truth is, the JN is too valuable an asset to the Detroit Jewish community — and to Jews the world over who care about what happens here — to be allowed to fade away.
So I’m committed to broadening JN’s reach and appeal. In the coming months we aim to expand our footprint with increased digital-first content at TheJewishNews.com; live events to encourage dialogue across the Metro Detroit area; new multimedia projects; new local voices reflecting diverse Jewish opinions and experiences; and more.
And I want to hear from you, too. In the grand tradition of Jews everywhere, the JN must argue with itself. What does it mean to be Jewish in Detroit in 2020, and are we reflecting that in our stories? We need the support of our readers to survive, but are we truly earning it? Are we present in the spaces where we can have the most impact on the conversation? Are we being inclusive in our framing of the key issues affecting our community?
These are tough questions. But they’re also the kinds of challenges I live for. I’m a critic by trade, and I love to think critically about problems that need a mix of insight and chutzpah. I’ve also spent years researching the challenges facing local, mission-driven media in the digital age. My Judaism is important to me, as are my Detroit roots. Put them all together, and the task of figuring out the future of JN starts to look … well, kind of fun.
I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve already received from the community. Seeing so many friends and colleagues kvelling over your new job is a great ego boost. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for believing in me, and in the importance of this publication. I hope I won’t let you down.
If you would like to show your support to JN, please consider purchasing a subscription for yourself or a relative. Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter and follow us on social media. Watch this space for future announcements that will allow you to lend your support in different ways. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.
You can reach Andrew Lapin at email@example.com.