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Jewish World Review and Moment Magazine
Alan Tuttle
Alan Tuttle

Alan Tuttle

As you may know from past issues, the Watchpost column has expanded its scope. Initially, its concept was central to the founding purpose of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice: monitor and reflect back the political bias found in the Jewish Exponent in order to influence it to be more balanced in its reporting of social and political issues. Over time a couple of changes have occurred: First, the Exponent has seemed more balanced in its coverage of some issues, the war in Iraq as a case in point. (See Watchpost #6.) Second, the PJV has increasingly focused on providing a thoughtful, progressive addition to Philadelphia Jewish media. As part of this shift, the Watchpost evolved from being the "Exponent Watchpost" to the "Media Watchpost."

The trend continues this month, as we will review some contrasting Jewish media to be found online, looking at what else is offered in cyberspace.

First is the online journal, Jewish World Review, which is published 5 days a week. Binyamin L. Jolkovsky, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, outlines the mission of the website in the inaugural editorial entitled "Raison d'Etre". JWR's purpose can essentially be summed up as waging "a war to change the way contemporary Jewry views itself?. We have no intention of being preachy or partisan? [with] articles?.on everything Jewish: culture, custom, and history, politics." Regular headliners include Dennis Prager, Daniel Pipes, and Diana West among other conservative commentators. The list of contributing editors is long, and with the exception of Nat Hentoff, also conservative to varying degrees: George Will, Mort Zuckerman and Philadelphia's own Jonathan Tobin to name a few. 

One article that caught my eye was by Rich Lowry, who is often found in the pages of the ultra-conservative magazine National Review." In his November 25 article, ?GM: Sabotaged from within," Mr. Lowry offers as the scapegoat for GM's collapse the workers who make roughly $50,000 per year. He never mentions the outlandish salaries, benefits, and severance packages of the upper management and executives that have guided GM to its current state. It is unfortunate that this is representative of the kind of writing in a journal that has an admirable premise: making Judaism alive and relevant to the younger generation. Politically conservative Jews who fret that there is too much ?leftist? thinking offered at college campuses should take heart in the large number of authors in WJR who offer up defense of the status-quo and belittle liberal causes.

A refreshing alternative to WJR, and with an almost identical "raison d'être" is Moment Magazine, published online in abbreviated form. Founded by Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein in 1975 and described then as ?The New Magazine for American Jews," Moment has been more successful than WJR at maintaining a true mix of opinion, both political and theological, including secular humanist and non-affiliated movements. The current issue has feature articles about Al Franken, Jewish and Christian congregations sharing worship space, interviews with Steven Spielberg and Alan Dershowitz, and an essay by Naomi Ragen on the current life and thoughts of one of the families who believed Hashem would prevent them from being removed from Gush Katif in the Gaza pullout. And then there is the ever-present Dennis Prager! 

In addition to such thought-provoking articles, there is a Message Board, a Resources section that lists camps, charities, Israel programs, and information about performing arts, and an ?Ask the Rabbi? section that has rabbis ranging from Lubavitch to Humanistic answering such questions as (this month), "Should Jewish Children Be Allowed to Sing Christmas Carols?" Readers are offered the chance to subscribe to the hardcopy version at $15 for one year --- this is the only way to read the full articles.

It is gratifying to find a range of Jewish thought available online. We will continue to review and respond to a variety of samples in future issues of PJV. And we won't forget our hometown cousin, the Exponent as we look for constructive contributions to Jewish thought.

Past Features of Media Watch