Long before April 15 became synonymous with "tax day" (1955) and the sinking of the Titanic (1912), the date heralded a more welcome arrival: the birth of the Jewish Exponent.
On April 15, 1887, the premier issue of the Exponent rolled off the presses. Each week since then, our publication has woven its way into the fabric of our community, faithfully finding its way to you. Now, as we mark our official 125th anniversary on Sunday, we can proudly boast of being the second-oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the country. (The American Israelite in Cincinnati is older.)
This is no easy feat at a time of continuing turbulence in the newspaper industry. The decline of advertising and readership of print publications has devastated news operations around the country. We need only look at the recent sale of the Philadelphia Media Network and the squeeze on our local dailies to see the impact. And in our particular field of Jewish journalism, the recent bankruptcy and sale of the Baltimore Jewish Times, which had been a family-owned enterprise for nearly 100 years, further confirms the tumultuous state of affairs.
The Exponent, too, is leaner these days, but we are still going strong with a staff dedicated to journalistic excellence and a publisher, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, committed to the paper's vital role in our community.
To our credit, we have garnered countless journalistic awards over the decades, including being named for the past two years the "Best Weekly" newspaper in the entire state of Pennsylvania and in the Philadelphia region. No small achievements, but don't expect us to rest on our laurels.
As our 125th anniversary motto declares, we are "Connected to Our Past, Plugged in to Our Future." We are celebrating: Look next month for a special anniversary magazine that will link the past, present and future of Jewish Philadelphia. You will also find a tent full of surprises at the community-wide Israel Independence Day celebrations at Penn's Landing on May 20.
But we are simultaneously looking — and working — toward the future. We are taking the steps needed to transform the Exponent into a new and vibrant blend of digital and print offerings. Later this year, you will see a newspaper redesign and a complete overhaul of our online operation. Jewishexponent.com will soon become the "go-to" place to find out what's happening in Jewish Philadelphia.
It is fitting that our special milestone launches at the conclusion of the Passover holiday. Just as we pass on the story of our Exodus in every generation, we at the Exponent pledge to continue to tell our collective story. From generation to generation, we will continue to build our community and make it meaningful for you and your children and your children's children. May we all go from strength to strength.