On March 6, 1924, the shtetl that was Seattle’s Jewish community saw these words hawked on their Central District street corners:
Announcement! To the Jewish people of the Pacific Northwest: At numerous times during the last ten years it has been suggested to me that the publication of a Jewish weekly newspaper was a public necessity and that as an American citizen and a Jew it was my duty to assist in founding such an enterprise.
I don’t know why it was Herman Horowitz to whom people came when they decided there should be a newspaper that covers our state’s Jewish community, or what he gave up to create the labor of love, sweat and ink that became The Jewish Transcript. But for nearly 90 years, the Transcript, as people refer to it (though eight years ago the name was shortened to JTNews), has served its mission as that public necessity.
But the question of whether a Jewish newspaper — or Jewish news in general — serves the people beyond those who work inside our community pops up in my mind from time to time. It came up a few weeks ago when I was sitting in the social hall of my synagogue, at an event for the parents of Sunday school kids, and several of the people sitting at my table had no idea such a thing as a Jewish newspaper existed! And that’s despite the fact that dozens of copies of the paper get put out in the lobby of my temple every time we publish! Or I hear on occasion from an observant person who chooses to have nothing to do with the paper because it isn’t religious enough — in other words, if it’s not Talmudic, it’s not Jewish.