A traditional Jewish refrain is to wish someone a long life by hoping that they live to 120, as did the prophet and teacher Moses. But this year, the Jewish Exponent is proving that not only is it possible to reach that august figure, but that the number, in fact, is just a beginning.
Exactly one month from today — April 15 — the newspaper will celebrate the 120th anniversary of its first edition. While that particular date most notably calls to mind the taxman, it also correlates into another certainty — that a single week hasn't gone by in 120 years without a new edition of the Exponent. We begin the festivities this week by adding a logo to the front-page banner, and look forward to the publication of a special supplement that will be printed in June.
The Exponent's debut — which hit the streets on April 15, 1887 — and every subsequent issue has been the newspaper of record for the Jewish men, women and children of the Greater Philadelphia area. And what a story it's been! The last 12 decades have represented some of the most tumultuous times in the long saga of Jewish life.
On the international stage, we have witnessed devastating world wars, a Holocaust, the birth of modern Zionism, the rebirth of Israel and its six-decades-long battle to preserve the state's existence.
On the local level, we have reported the rise — and many subsequent changes — of an umbrella philanthropy now known as the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. In that time span, Jewish life has thrived in the Delaware Valley as our community built synagogues, schools and other social-service agencies to meet the many needs of a growing population.
And on a much more personal level, the pages of this paper have chronicled the births, engagements, weddings and deaths of several generations of Jews.
Our history as a newspaper is, above all, the history of this community. It is a tale of sacrifice, vision, effort and achievement. This chronicle has been compiled by generations of hardworking journalists, whose toil we laud in our own time by continuing to add to the laurels they have won by winning some 120 awards for journalistic excellence since the turn of a new century.
But as proud as we are of our record, which makes us among the oldest and most honored Jewish publications in the world, we believe that the first 120 years are just the start. This entity — which began as a private endeavor and which, for the last 60-plus years, has been held as a public trust for the community and published by Federation — will continue to serve the Jewish people in the years and decades to come.
Just as the challenges that we faced as a community in 1887 are different from those we encounter in 2007, we have faith that the Exponent will push forward with its mission in the future.
In recent years, for example, we began — and then quickly expanded — a presence on the Internet (www.jewishexponent.com), adding tens of thousands of online readers to the more than 100,000 who read the print edition every week.
While we will continue to strive to improve this paper and add features of interest to current generations, we believe that the core purpose remains unchanged: to be a voice of the Jewish people and Israel, both telling their stories and advocating on behalf of causes that promote survival and growth.
We remain dedicated to that mission, and aim not only to highlight a major milestone with our readers and advertisers this spring, but to continue to serve as your hometown Jewish newspaper for at least another 120 years.