Reflecting on 25 years with the 'Jewish Journal'

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Washington, DC, August 26, 2015 | comments

SUN SENTINEL

By Alan Goch

Look how far we've come.

This week marks 25 years for me at the Jewish Journal.

Both the newspaper and I have evolved over the past quarter century.

My religion hasn't always been my first priority, but my association with the Journal has helped me look a little deeper into my Jewishness.

Included among the Jewish milestones of bar mitzvah, marriage, parenthood and becoming bubbies and zaydes (grandparents), is a satisfying life's work. Family always comes first, but a successful career molds you into the person you ultimately become.

I came on board in 1990, a 20-something at the time. I had not yet put down roots. That would all change.

Both the Journal and I have matured since those early days. My understanding of Judaism has grown beyond my Hebrew school education and the values that my parents instilled in me, while the newspaper has grown from its inception as a small, local publication with one Broward County edition to reach its prominence as the largest Jewish weekly in the nation, publishing six editions covering Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

Much of this success is attributed to the growth of the South Florida Jewish community over the years.

More than a half of million Jews live here, making our community the third-largest Jewish metro area in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles. South Florida is also one of the most diverse, home to Holocaust survivors and retirees to second and third generation Jews raising their families.

With those numbers in mind, a local voice has been needed to report on issues that impact both Israel and the global community. It has been our mission serve that need.

Since its inaugural year of 1977, the paper has grown from a neighborhood publication to include national and international personalities and issues. Prominent people, politicians and celebrities featured in our pages reflect that growth.

Some of them include: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alan Dershowitz, Dan Rather, Mel Brooks, Leonard Nimoy, Madeleine Albright, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Elie Wiesel, Jack Mason, Chaim Topol and Gilad Shalit.

During the 2008 presidential election, the Journal conducted one-on-one interviews with candidates Obama, Biden and McCain.

We have kept our readers informed on other global news-making events, adding our own local perspective, including 9-11, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis and the Iran nuclear deal.

Locally, we turned our attention to both the lows (restricted country clubs and economic woes) as well as the highs (emergence of synagogues, federations, JCCs, organizations and communal leaders).

Personal highlights for me include two visits to Israel where I had the opportunity to hear live presentations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now-retired statesman Shimon Peres, as well as visiting the Ukraine in the fall of 2009 during the opening week of school. I was really touched when the tour included a stop in Odessa, the birthplace of my paternal great grandfather.

However, my greatest experience was my visit to the White House during Jewish American Heritage Month in 2011 and meeting President Obama during the reception that included a "Who's Who" of prominent Jewish Americans among the invited guests.

I have always been thankful that my father of blessed memory lived to see me receive this honor.

Recently, we offered our readers live coverage from the European Maccabi Games from Berlin, significant since this competition for Jewish athletes took place in a country that persecuted our people during the Holocaust.

Today's digital age has helped us expand our reach through social media and our website (floridajewishjournal.com), including a new partnership with the Forward in New York, which includes some of our stories in their daily newsletter.

Along with the newspaper's growth, has been the emergence of Jewish journalism as a whole.

Boyhood heroes for me have been replaced by the likes of ill-fated journalists Daniel Pearl and Steven Sotloff. They risked themselves for the sake to create compelling news in places where free press is not a guaranteed right.

Special thanks to my wife and family for allowing me to continue to do the job I love and to the true professionals, past and present, that have worked alongside me. I can't believe where the time has gone and will continue to go.

My only regret is that my father isn't alive to share this mitzvah with me.

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