Jewish Observer, in ‘Transitional Phase,’ to be Honored For Distinguished Service to Torah


jo.jpgA special honoree at Agudath Israel of America’s upcoming 87th anniversary dinner is not a person.  It’s a periodical.

Not any periodical, of course, but the flagship journal of Jewish thought and discussion of issues of import to the Orthodox Jewish world: The Jewish Observer.  The magazine will receive the Hagaon Rav Aharon Kotler Award for Distinguished Service to Torah at Agudath Israel’s  dinner, to be held Sunday evening at the New York Hilton.

Since its inception in 5724/1963, “The JO,” as the organ is affectionately known to its many readers, has played a vital role in the growth and development of the Torah community in the United States.  The first magazine of its kind, the publication has throughout the years served as a forum for intelligent and responsible discussion of the topics of the day from the perspective of unadulterated Torah-true hashkafa. 

The magazine is currently on hiatus, having entered what Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, described as a “transitional phase,” that he expects at its end to yield “somewhat different and more financially viable” periodical.

And so, the Agudath Israel leader explained, “we felt that our annual dinner would be the proper setting for celebrating the tremendous accomplishment of The Jewish Observer and its editors.”  First under the editorial stewardship of Rabbi Nachman Bulman, zt”l,  then, yb”l, Rabbi Yaakov Jacobs, and for the past nearly 40 years, Rabbi Nisson Wolpin,  the JO has also benefited from the active involvement of a distinguished editorial board under the founding chairmanship of Dr. Ernst Bodenheimer, z”l, and the current chairmanship of Rabbi Joseph Elias.

Despite the unique role the JO plays in the Jewish world, the current economic climate makes it necessary for changes in the magazine’s format and publishing frequency to be considered. 

“It is our hope and plan, though,” Rabbi Zwiebel said, “to meet the challenges head-on.  And see a revamped Jewish Observer emerge from its temporary pause in publication.”

“Although it is too early to say what that new JO will be like,” he asserted, “what we can say with certainty is we are committed to strengthening its ongoing role in addressing the challenges of the future.

“For now, though, it is only appropriate that the crown jewel of Orthodox Jewish publications be saluted for the decades it has served as a rallying clarion for Torah ideals.

“And that is precisely what we will be doing Sunday night.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)


  1. Azi,

    People are at the dinner for the Agudah, and the JO is part of the Agudah. They have honored their own many times before, this is standard. They are obviously honoring the many people behind the paper, and not the ink itself…

    The Agudah dinner is about Agudah. Your comment is puzzling.

  2. The JO has still not apologized for its appalling treatment of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik upon his petirah. As a talmid of the Rav, among thousands of others who were zoche to learn by the Rav and hear him repeat Torah straight from R’ Chaim, I cannot bring myself to honor such publication.

  3. Azi,

    If you made a mistake and realize your position does not hold water, you can either acknowledge it or remain silent. Insults make you look silly :).

  4. to #6
    “STRAIGHT from reb chaim”
    what do u mean by that?? i assume he didnt hear [couldnt have heard] the torah from reb chaim himself;
    so then what do u mean ??

  5. Not an altogether bad thing for klal yisroel. A broader number of sources of “kosher” opinion are necessary.

    I also don’t know what this quote means: ““Although it is too early to say what that new JO will be like,” he asserted, “what we can say with certainty is we are committed to strengthening its ongoing role in addressing the challenges of the future.”

    Addressing current (not to mention future) challenges wasn’t exactly the JO’s strong suit. It was mainly focused on reinforcing the things that everybody already assumed to be true.

  6. Now that we just renewed several years’ subscriptions with our hard-earned money in difficult times,we are not getting any refunds? Maybe they should get a handout from Uncle Obama -Sam as part of the stimulus package?

  7. To #9

    R’ Chaim was niftar in 1918. The Rav was born in 1903. I personally heard the Rav say over a R. Chaim in Soteh. The Rav also told us when R. Chaim said over this piece in Vloszhin. He told us over the R’ Chaim as part of the Mesorah of his family. In any event, the JO’s treatment of such Gadol Batorah cannot be excused.

  8. to # 9
    thanks for that tidbit.
    “cannot be excused” -by you! there seems to be others who disagreed with you, [the jo rabbinical board].