Choosing change for a future yet unwritten


Nancy Kirsch

In my penultimate column in the Aug. 30 issue of The Jewish Voice, “No longer an observer, a participant once again,” I expressed my heartfelt appreciation for the privilege of serving the greater Rhode Island Jewish community as its newspaper’s editor.

Since then, I have pondered, “Just what do I want to say in this final column?” To that end, I found this quote by Anatole France thought-provoking: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

I grew up with frequent, yet often undesirable, change; as an adult, however, I relish the opportunity to choose change.

Sometimes what I consider small changes – moving pots, pans and dishes into different kitchen cabinets, rearranging living room furniture or painting a bathroom radiator cover – disrupt the lives of those around me.

“Does anyone know where the pasta pot is? Mom moved it and I can’t find it,” I’ve heard more than once.

Other changes, such as my decision to resign, have broader repercussions. When I was promoted from associate editor to this position, I had a steep learning curve. I knew how to write a story, but not much about how that story went from my computer screen to later appear in print, as just one small part of a 36-, 48- or even a 60-page paper.

As associate editor, I had only a superficial knowledge of the work of the advertising representative and the graphic designer and I didn’t pay much attention; after all, the executive editor supervised us all. When I was promoted, I learned how each person played an integral role in creating and publishing the paper. Leah Camara, graphic designer, and the late Frank Zasloff, advertising representative, each more experienced in their roles than I was in mine, taught me about the paper … and life.

In the past four years, staff members, columnists and editorial board members have changed, the newspaper has been redesigned twice and the paper has been renamed.

These and other changes all present opportunities for France’s referenced melancholy and for learning, growth, success and failure.

In my father’s generation, many men – and the few women then in the workplace – worked for one company for their entire career before retiring with a celebratory lunch and a gold watch.

I could not have lived that life; I know, as I’ve both changed careers – more than once – and positions often. Frequently, I chose something more challenging and outside my comfort zone; those changes brought a bit of melancholy and a frisson of excitement.

Despite falling on my face more than once – and learning far more from my mistakes than from my successes – I have only a few professional regrets. I am proud of the work we have done here during my tenure and I look forward to seeing what comes next for The Jewish Voice.

Will my departure bring changes to The Jewish Voice? Of course it will. Changes are inevitable and every editor leaves his or her imprint on the newspaper he or she is responsible for overseeing. It will be up to readers to decide for themselves how they perceive those changes – as neutral, positive or negative – and each of us will have our own opinion.

I hope, though, that readers do two things: Offer as much support to Arthur Norman, interim executive editor, as you did to me, and don’t forget that this is your community newspaper. Let the publisher, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and your fellow readers know what works and what doesn’t, through letters to the editor, guest columns, etc. Express yourself!

To the many readers, many of whom I’ve never met face-to-face, who expressed their thanks for my contributions to the paper, I, in turn, express my appreciation to them.

I wish all associated with The Jewish Voice, including you, the readers, much success and only a bit of melancholy, with these upcoming changes.

As for me, I’m evaluating next steps and some potential new assignments.

In the meantime, readers who want to stay in touch with me will find me at