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The Jewish Report Editorial

The end of a memorable chapter

  • Vanessa
It is with a mixture of sadness and relief that I am stepping down as editor of the SA Jewish Report at the end of this year. This, our bumper Chanukah edition, is our last print issue of 2016, though we will still be posting news on our website and Facebook page.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Dec 07, 2016

This most supportive team, both staff and board, have made it easier but the strain of commuting between Johannesburg and Cape Town every week just became too difficult to maintain. Fortunately, I have been encouraged to continue writing and contributing.

A few weeks ago, ChaiFM host Charisse Zeifert had me as a guest on her radio show. She asked me, now that I was leaving, to reflect on some of the challenges of the job, particularly, keeping all factions of the SA Jewish community happy. Was the community too divisive, too opinionated, too rigid, too right wing? What were my sentiments?

Before I began two short years ago, I had been warned that I would definitely find myself  threatened, ridiculed and the object of anger at many points along my editorial journey.

And indeed, I think I did leave a few of the Orthodox rabbis quite aghast at times, particularly when we ran a story about a gay Jewish couple from Cape Town getting engaged at an Adele concert in Spain. We certainly angered members of the Victory Park community, when we provided extensive coverage of the Bobroff family’s fraud allegations since it is the neighbourhood where even the uninvolved Bobroffs live.

And we also irritated Jewish organisations and schools who, at times, felt we did not give them enough coverage or offered too much attention to competing institutions. The right-wingers told us the paper was too left and the left-wingers said we were too conservative.

That was to be expected though I never felt personally attacked, and my approach was to hear everyone out and not be too defensive.

But in reflection, what stands out for me - far beyond grumblings like these - is what an amazing community this is. For a demographic that is continually punctured and bruised by emigration as new generations choose to leave South Africa’s unsolvables behind - we still manage to thrive and innovate.

Despite our numbers, there are never enough pages in this paper to include all the accomplishments of our members, or the great initiatives they set up toward progress and to help others.

It was indeed a great privilege to be at the nerve centre of this vibrancy during my tenure. My message to the new editor (whenever that individual is appointed) is that there is a lot to be excited about!  

I would like to think that I have helped to make the paper more relevant, more topical and more engaging; and my wish for my successor is that he/she builds on this and makes it even better.  

To Jewish Report staff, our board and the community of readers, both local and international, you shall be missed.

 

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