The Canadian Jewish News is no more. Already struggling financially, the country’s pre-eminent Jewish newspaper was ultimately done in by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The tabloid is to cease print and online operations after publishing its April 9 edition.
Considered the national voice of Canada’s Jewish community, the independently owned publication had a weekly circulation of nearly 32,000 copies. In a letter to CJN readers, the newspaper’s president, Elizabeth Wolfe, said she had hoped the publication could “inform, console and distract” readers isolated at home. “It is with great regret that we have realized that we will be unable to do so.”
The newspaper’s staff was informed of the decision over a video conference call.
Although the World Health Organization confirmed recently that newspapers are safe to touch, the medium is being hard hit by the economy-paralyzing COVID-19.
The CJN’s first publisher was Meyer Joshua Nurenberger, an immigrant from Europe via New York who in January, 1960, launched the paper with his wife, concert pianist Dorothy Nurenberger.
The publication ran its news operations from Toronto and Montreal, with correspondents across the country and in Israel. Its mandate was to provide its readers with “news of the Jewish community in Canada, Israel and throughout the world" by offering a "wide array of features, commentary and opinions, as well as weekly stories and features on arts, travel, business, campus life, sports and health.”
In 1976, The Globe and Mail’s then-editor, Richard Doyle, wrote a tribute in the CJN.
“I know of no other community newspaper that consistently deals in such a provocative way with local, national and international issues,” he wrote. “It catches stories the metropolitan press and news magazines have missed or neglected and it relates them to concerns that are deeply felt in Canada.”
Its current online edition includes articles on an Hasidic community outside Montreal that was placed under quarantine, Israel’s complete lockdown on the eve of Passover, the success in Canada of the Israel-based SodaStream home-carbonation-machine company, myths about salt and a profile of Elizabeth Leslie, a Canadian dance-pop dark artist “whose new music is about climate change and her breakup with an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman.”
This isn’t the first time the CJN has ceased publication. On April 22, 2013, the newspaper issued termination notices to its 50 or so staffers and announced that it would shut down after its June 20 edition that year because of financial constraints.
The paper’s demise was short-lived. By August, a leaner organization was putting out the CJN. In early 2014, Ms. Wolfe was named president of the reorganized publication.
With that history in mind, Ms. Wolfe in her open letter expressed hope that members of the country’s Jewish community would “recognize the need for a national platform” and that a new CJN would emerge.
But, in closing, the paper’s president was less sanguine, basing her realizations on the bottom line and the book of Ecclesiastes.
“Please know that we have done everything in our power to continue the CJN for as long as possible. It is with tears in my eyes that I conclude: It had a good run. Everything has its season. It is time.”
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