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Published Thursday, June 30, 2016

Temple B’nai Abraham Community Not Served

As rabbi and lay leaders of Temple B’nai Abraham of Beverly, we wish to express our displeasure at the direction of the Jewish Journal.

As the only Jewish newspaper serving the North Shore and environs, the Journal has an obligation to serve as an outlet for news and comment particular for its unique constituency.

For over 30 years the Journal has chronicled the newsmakers, events and important happenings in our synagogues and institutions. We submit that the Journal should neither be a divisive nor offensive platform, nor deal in controversy for controversy sake.

Yet, it has become increasingly apparent and reflected in the exodus of members of the Board of Overseers and the tenor of myriad letters to the Journal from angry and disappointed readers (and now former readers), the “new” Journal no longer serves its readership in the way that it should.

 The choice of “front cover art” of national or international stories of little, if any, Jewish interest and certainly no local Jewish interest (i.e. Bill Cosby, Trump, Clinton), in our view was selected for one reason only, to grab attention, as do the tabloids that look the same and grace our supermarket checkout aisles. If readership has increased and or advertisements have increased, and we are not convinced either is true, then it comes from the sensationalism of the news that is endemic in our media already, we need not have yet another example supplanting what we have come to expect from OUR community newspaper.

The editorial commentary, while the right and privilege of the publishers and editors of a free press, has similarly offended more than a few in our community. Your right to these views is sacrosanct, but should be tempered by what is right for your readership. We hope and expect your Board of Overseers and/or your Editorial Committee to be aware of what we feel is at times an offensive take on the news of the day (last issue’s back page cartoon the latest example; the paid Trump back page “story” yet another).

The fact that several members of our temple community have cancelled their support of the Journal or asked that it not be displayed in our building is troubling; we do not endorse its removal, but the mere fact that the issue has been raised is telling.

Our congregation spends considerable energy countering the widespread stream of hate, negativity, and divisiveness with messages of inclusion, tolerance, openness, and respect for all people. The Jewish Journal’s decision to employ the very same negative tactics that we battle on a daily basis is contrary to our goals. Therefore, the Temple B’nai Abraham Board of Directors must decide if we want to continue to send mixed messages to our congregation and the larger Jewish community by buying advertising space in a newspaper that promotes values opposite our own.

How the Jewish Journal responds moving forward is beyond our control; the effect of not changing course is within yours.

Respectfully,

Rabbi Alison Adler

Alan S. Pierce, Temple President on behalf of the Board of Directors

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