Thoughts that bloom in April


Like all of you, we have just celebrated our second pandemic Passover. Our seder, once again, was largely a Zoom connection. But unlike last year, this year my extended family was able to gather together in two places, instead of seven separate households.

My immediate family, which has grown by one small person this year, gathered at my table. Not everyone was vaccinated, so we chose to keep the seder small. The extended family is almost all vaccinated, so they were able to gather at a common table.

At my house, we were six. My sister hosted five. Past years have seen as many as 15 or 16 in my small dining room.

Last year we cooked via Zoom, trading recipes and images of finished dishes. This year, we returned to texting and emailing recipes, advice and photos. I’m grateful for this, because while I will always value Zoom, the novelty of sharing everything via screens has waned (see my March column).

And while “Dayenu” is especially poignant as we think back to all that our friends, neighbors, community, nation and world have gone through in the past year, we all hope that the next seder will take place in my dining room, crowded together, with a rousing rendition of “Had Gad Yo” and a spirited search for the afikomen that my husband so carefully finds a new place to hide even after more than 30 years in the same house.

Just as we measure the yearly cycle by the seasons and the holidays we celebrate, Jewish Rhode Island’s publishing cycle is governed by holidays, themes and activities that happen at regular times each year.

With this issue, we acknowledge the coming of spring and the start of our annual Patron Campaign, when we ask you, our readers, to help support our community newspaper.

It’s been a tough year for journalism in general. Attacks on the media have never been higher, and vital advertising dollars are in short supply as local businesses struggle or close, often due to the pandemic. The media has become a punching bag at a time when there are fewer reporters and photographers and their mission to inform has never been more vital.

Jewish journalism has certainly not been immune to all this. In the last year, a number of Jewish newspapers in the U.S. and around the world have shut down or gone digital-only. Finances and less advertising played a big role. But less access for readers was to blame, too.

Like us, many Jewish newspapers are distributed through synagogues, local shops and community organizations. When those are shuttered, there’s no place to distribute the paper. 

Close to home, the 118-year-old Boston Jewish Advocate did not meet its fundraising goals and suspended publication in September. They promised to come back digitally, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Jewish Rhode Island is fortunate. We are partially funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation Foundation. And the Board of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island has renewed its commitment to us again and again since we are a vital part of keeping our community connected across Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

We are also partially funded by advertising dollars. We are grateful to the advertisers who have stuck with us this year. Many have been with us for years. They know that supporting the Jewish community is important. And that connecting with Jewish families and businesses is good business, too.

While our print edition, with its long shelf life and dedicated readership, is our flagship advertising option, our growing website and newsletter readership offer additional and lower-cost options for promoting your business or services in 2021.

We also look to the Patron Campaign to help with our budget. Every dollar you give to the campaign goes directly toward helping us cover your community. Please help us to continue and expand our coverage. We want you to know what your neighbors are doing, from South County to Woonsocket and everywhere in-between.

You can make your gift using the envelope included with this paper. There’s also a coupon at the bottom of the ad on the back page of the paper that explains how to give. And a button at the top of takes you to a page for online giving.

Your gift to the Patron Campaign helps keep the tradition of the Federation Voice, the Voice-Herald, the Jewish Voice and now Jewish Rhode Island going in Rhode Island.

Fran Ostendorf, Editor