How I got here, where we’re going

How I got here, where we’re going

A new beginning at NJ Jewish News.

Gabe Kahn is the editor of The New Jersey Jewish News.

You could argue that I’ve been here before.

Several years ago, I received an e-mail from the editor of The Boston Globe’s sports department about a position as an editor of a brand-new weekly tab on Boston’s four major sports clubs. The publication would be published by the Globe with contributions from its large stable of writers and some new blood, myself included. There would be some challenges in accepting the job — the most significant being that I had moved to New York City from Boston just three days prior — but the moment I read his message I knew that I absolutely had to take it, logistics be damned.

Fast forward to some months ago. Now back in New York, with this sojourn lasting far longer than three days, I found myself in a similar situation. One evening as I was on my way to pick up my kids from school, I received a call from Gary Rosenblatt, the veteran editor and publisher of The Jewish Week, a leader in the field. I’d freelanced for The Jewish Week for years, but my correspondence with Gary had usually been via e-mail, so I knew something was up. This time the offer was to edit New Jersey Jewish News, which The Jewish Week would soon be publishing. As with the Globe, the idea was to publish the newspaper with members of the existing staff and the additional resources provided by the The Jewish Week.

And yet, although these instances are analogous, they are, of course, quite different. For one, the necessary geographic adjustments — New York to Boston vs. New York to New Jersey — are not nearly as daunting. For another, the gravity of writing about sports, which matters greatly to many but little in the grand scheme, cannot compare to that of covering the Jewish world.

But most of all, our little weekly tab at the Globe was brand-new, yesh m’ayin, something from nothing, whereas the award-winning New Jersey Jewish News has been published in one form or another for more than 70 years. Yesh m’yesh, something from something, indeed.

The implications of this are not lost on me: I — along with the rest of the NJJN staff — am charged with the weighty responsibility of ensuring that, regardless of any changes we make, the newspaper our loyal readers have enjoyed for all these years continues to be of the utmost quality. And I assure you, that is our mandate.

This isn’t a job interview, but let me give you a little personal background. I grew up in Newton, Mass., a suburb of Boston, and attended Maimonides day school through high school. I spent my “gap year” learning in an Israeli yeshiva, then came home to attend Brandeis University, where I majored in Near Eastern Judaic studies and political science, and minored in journalism.

A sports-obsessed Bostonian (is there any other kind?), I began my career as a freelancer, mostly writing about the Boston Celtics, and later became a regular stringer for the Globe, which served as a bridge to my position as editor of the weekly tab I mentioned earlier. Later I returned to New York, got married, and my wife and I are blessed to have two young children, a boy and a girl. Along the way I worked as an editor, reporter, and public relations professional, and attended the Columbia University School of Journalism.

Now that I’ve introduced myself, I’d like to discuss some of our goals for NJJN. Since coming aboard, the question I am asked most is: Will the paper still cover our community? The answer is, of course, yes. NJJN is and has always been a community newspaper, and neither I nor anyone at The Jewish Week, have any intention of changing that. That does not mean, however, that the coverage of our communities will be identical to what it was before.

We hope to inform and entertain our readers, and inspire them through building community, uniting them in ways that make them aware of what’s happening in nearby communities as well as their own. To that end, we aim to produce stories that are thought-provoking and increase the dialogue among us, both locally and away from home.

And we want to hear from you. We will continue to welcome Letters and Opinion columns that reflect the wide range of our readership, allowing us to serve as a bridge that can span political, religious, social and other divides that plague our communities and our country.

As for my column, I hope this space is one in which readers can expect to find a mix of solid reporting, thoughtful analysis, balance, humor, and genuine emotion. So let’s make this a dialogue, not just a one-way street.

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