The Canadian Jewish News announced its closure on April 2, and already two new websites are launching this week, both claiming to replace the popular weekly.
By Atara Beck, World Israel News
In the wake of the demise of The Canadian Jewish News (CJN), the country’s leading Jewish newspaper, two new websites are being launched this week, each claiming to fill the void.
The CJN, a weekly, was founded on Jan. 1, 1960. After 60 years, it became an economic victim of COVID-19.
Commenting on the CJN’s closure in April, Bernie Farber, former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress and a CJN columnist for the past several years, told Canada’s National Post:
“I think it was the paper of record to the Jewish community and I’m heartbroken to see it folding at this time. There is no other paper. This was it. So, along with everything else that’s going on right now, this just adds another level of sadness.”
Indeed, Farber, who identifies as a progressive Jew and a Zionist, is now co-founder and publisher of Canadian Jewish Record (CJR), “the new home of Canadian Jewish News.” The launch is May 21.
The CJR describes itself as “a collective comprised of journalists, writers, opinion makers, social media commentators and many more who recognize the importance of Canadian Jewish journalism and donate their time and talent to keeping it going. We will cover a host of issues of importance to Canadian Jews, but you don’t have to be Jewish to read and enjoy.”
Yet another website, launching May 19, is TheJ.ca, which announced on social media that it is the “new Canadian Jewish News media platform.”
TheJ.ca, led by publisher Ron East and investigative journalist Marty Gold as editor-in-chief, “aims to be a portal dedicated to covering current affairs, community issues and opinions, arts and culture, and to provide long-form interviews,” its website explains.
East and Gold are on record as opposed to progressive Jewish activism, which, East told World Israel News (WIN), “often vilifies the State of Israel and the IDF.”
Dave Gordon, the site’s managing editor, said the launch begins “a new era of Jewish journalism…. We’re forging a new, independent path. In so doing, we will report on hard issues, unafraid to tackle the tough questions, and unencumbered by special interests.”
In fact, one of the first stories is a “critique of United Jewish Appeal’s $72 million white elephant Jewish community center,” Gordon told WIN. “Couldn’t the money have been spent in other ways, such as Jewish education or helping the needy?” he asked rhetorically, referring to the recent closure of a number of Jewish Day Schools even before COVID-19 hit and the rise in poverty due to the pandemic.
TheJ.ca’s contributors are diverse, Gordon said, ranging from liberal to conservative, Ashkenazi to Sephardi to Mizrahi, religious to secular, immigrants to generations-long Canadians, millennial to boomer. The common thread, he stressed, is that they are all “proudly Zionist.”
Describing the team as “a great orchestra coast to coast,” he mentioned Rivka Campbell, “a black woman in the community, very vocal in calling attention to Jews of color who are often ignored,” and Zionist activist Aboud Dandachi, a Muslim Syrian refugee in Canada.
The “big launch feature story is an interview with Canadian Hollywood celebrity Dan Aykroyd, who is very pro-Israel and has visited lone soldiers on an IDF base to raise their morale,” Gordon said.
Farber, a social activist and chair of Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told WIN that CJR’s voices come from “all points of the political spectrum. You will see stories from supporters of groups like JSpace,” a progressive Canadian Jewish organization, “to well-known conservative writers.”
“Our premier issue will have an interview with one of Canada’s leading doctors working closely on the pandemic. His thoughts about upcoming High Holiday services, the possibilities of a vaccine, and much more,” Farber announced on his Facebook page. “Our lead-off commentary by renowned Canadian journalist and author Andrew Cohen will look at the importance of Canadian Jewish journalism.”
Veteran Jewish journalist Ron Csillag, who also reported for the CJN among other publications, is co-founder and editor of CJR.
Atara Beck is a daughter of CJN founders Meyer and Dorothy Nurenberger.