News through their lens: Judaism in New York City

I like to think of the incredible variety of cultures as the bedrock for the United States of America. We see people of all shapes and sizes, cultures of all flavors and ethnicities, and individuals expressing themselves, all of which are beautiful, independent things. Yet each person has a tie back to something: their culture, their bedrock.

As a Roman Catholic, I only know very little about Judaism. I know that God has called them the chosen people. I know of their holidays, and that they are ultimately called to be an example of holiness to the world.

So I found myself asking, how do these chosen ones live in today’s secular society? Is it similar to my experience? How and why is it different? I had so many questions that I had no answers to, and frankly, I did not know how to find the answers.

Then came along The New York Jewish Week.

With anything from the most recent Jewish-related Trump tweet to a Jewish couple passing away after 69 years of marriage, or even coverage of anti-Semitic incidents, The New York Jewish Week serves as a source for people looking for popular news that involves their faith and the country of Israel.

But before diving in too deep, I would like to take a step back and note the context in which this organization has set its roots.

The United States of America empowers its citizens with freedoms backed by the Constitution. Most notably in the life of a journalist, the freedoms of speech and of the press. These foundations serve as the platform of creation, which helps the country earn its spot at 43 out of 180 qualified countries according to the World Press Freedom Index.

Being in the top 25 percent of this Index, one would think the U.S. is on its way to greener pastures; however, the country has actually dropped two spots in the Freedom Index in the past year. The U.S. population is beginning to doubt major news outlets, leaving the implementation of “fake news,” among other viruses, in the streets, causing credibility issues with all media.

However, as we tie this in to focus on the Jewish community, there is another issue at the heart of Jewish-Americans, and specifically The New York Jewish Week.

Rich Waloff, associate publisher for The New York Jewish Week, says that anti-Semitism is a profound prejudice in the community.

“We know of people in our community, and even our some of our staff who have felt it,” he says.

Anti-Semitism is the hostility, prejudice, or hate against the Jewish people, just because they are Jewish. While The New York Jewish Week has not felt this hatred as an organization, Waloff says, it is an issue to report on because their readers can face it every day.

“Because we are a credible source for Jewish people,” he says, “we see the impact anti-Semitism has.”

While anti-Semitism covers some of what the weekly paper includes, Waloff says that The Jewish Week, which reads in New York City, Brooklyn, Long and Staten Island, does more. They cover national and international hot topics that pertain to the Jewish community.

May 1, is the Israeli celebration of Memorial Day, a day that Waloff says, is nothing like the United States’ celebration. It is much more somber, controlled, and less commercialized. A true day in memory of those who have died, it precedes Israel’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on May 2. The New York Jewish Week covers local services and celebrations every year.

On the lighter side, there is a branch of the online edition that reaches out specifically to a younger generation, those in and just out of college. The New York Blueprint serves as an event guide for young Jewish men and women, and gives them ideas for dates, things to do, places to see, places to eat, all of which are focused in the New York City area. With anything ranging from a Seth Rogen article to a jazz concert in Harlem, there are seemingly endless ideas for those willing to take a look.

The New York Jewish Week also has a profound social media presence. Their Facebook page has amassed nearly 25,000 “likes” and close to 24,000 followers. This page runs parallel to their online news site, showing some of same stories, while focusing on human interest, news, and politics. Their Twitter page, by “likes”, is more popular with over 35,000 followers. This page, like the Facebook one, is updated regularly and runs similar stories.

The New York Jewish Week ultimately provides the Jewish people of New York City and the surrounding area with the news they need. As time will change for the Jewish people, you can bet that this paper will change right by their side.