Diamonds for the Jewish Times

August 04, 1994

This is the diamond jubilee year for the Baltimore Jewish Times, which is considered by colleagues in the business easily the best Jewish weekly in the country.

Founded 75 years ago by a Romanian immigrant, David Alter, the newspaper is still a family affair now extending unto the fourth generation. Every Friday, 20,000 copies -- often more than 100 pages thick with a slick cover -- go to Jewish households in Baltimore and to interested readers around the world.

What makes the Baltimore Jewish Times different from other newspapers of its ilk?

Many answers come to mind: it is at once irreverent and deeply committed to the nurturing of Jewish tradition; it is ruggedly independent of clergy or establishment, daring even to run ads for crabs and announcements of mixed marriages, yet acting as the binding-together community bulletin board for every variety of Jewish activity and worship; its coverage of the Middle East is authoritative, not least in reflecting the huge diversity of Israeli opinion.

The publication was not always thus. During its first half-century, the Jewish Times was a pretty dull newspaper, edited from afar by Alter children in Pittsburgh. But in 1972, a grandson, Charles A. Buerger, took up residence in Baltimore and things were never the same. Chuck Buerger expanded his staff, hiring as editor an Orthodox rabbi's son, Gary Rosenblatt, whose demand for good writing and aggressive reporting soon embellished his paper's reputation while often outraging many of its readers. (Mr. Rosenblatt has gone off to New York to run a string of Jewish weeklies)

Now under the editorship of Michael Davis, a Sun alumnus, the Baltimore Jewish Times is again going through a period of change -- in this instance moving away from a concentration on the Holocaust and the survival of Israel, obsessions of an older generation, to emphasize local news and and paths for Jewish rediscovery, identity and continuity. The goal: an appeal to younger readers.

We salute our colleagues at the Jewish Times. Their 75th anniversary celebration began last Sunday with a splendid Gershwin concert at Oregon Ridge, and more festivities are planned through the rest of the year. Mazel tov.

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