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A Precarious Affair/Newspapers Matter!

June 1, 2006
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A Precarious Affair

It's no revelation to learn that the state of marriage in 2006 is not exactly the vision of American matrimony that the 1950s' sitcom "Father Knows Best" once portrayed to mass audiences.

The rising rate of divorce, decisions to delay marriage until much later in life, as well as the acceptance of co-habition outside of wedlock have rendered the two-parents-with-children family unit something of an artifact.

The state of Jewish marriage remains even more precarious, as the population is marrying much later, and having far fewer children than the rest of America. This has given rise to many questions the Jewish Exponent will tackle in a four-part series beginning this week; it will examine the demographic, gender and societal shifts that have rendered the prospect of two Jews meeting, marrying and staying together an endangered concept.

While far from extinct, the portrait of Jewish family life has decidely taken on a variety of hues. It has also engendered much discussion about the impact of future Jewish existence. If fewer marriages come to mean a smaller Jewish population, then that will restrict our ability to support the community with the requisite resources.

But for all the talk, the demographic facts of Jewish life cannot be altered by a magic bullet. There's no one program or initiative that will prove the panacea for Jewish familial decline. Nevertheless, what we can do is not just wring our hands over the fate of Jewish marriage, but to support the mechanisms that promote it.

We can, like the Star-K company in Baltimore, find avenues to encourage Jewish men and women to meet. We can, via our synagogues, agencies and social organizations, develop programs that cater to singles and their needs. And we can, as parents, neighbors and mentors, serve as sound role models for what successful marriages and relationships look like.

Smaller numbers do not necessarily mean a dying community, as long as we address the need to reinforce a strong and viable sense of Jewish peoplehood and responsibility.

Newspapers M​atter!

Surveys tell us that most people read less these days, a fact that has sent shivers down the spines of print journalists everywhere.

Yet the working press can take some comfort from the hoopla over the sale of Philadelphia's only established two mass-market dailies. Cable news and the Internet have challenged the stranglehold of daily papers, but they still count for a great deal. Which is why the recent sale of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to a local group of investors is such big news.

The whole affair has raised questions about whether the new owners will affect the paper's editorial content. Indeed, this editorial column has, at times, been highly critical of the Inquirer's coverage and editorial position on the Middle East. Nevertheless, we stand by our colleagues on North Broad Street when it comes to the principle of journalism being untainted by the personal biases of the publishers.

Yet, we also reject the notion that all of the prevalent culture of American journalism is sacrosanct. When that culture glorifies a faux objectivity that often serves as a false front for bias - the Inqy's Middle East coverage is an egregious example of this pattern - it needs to be questioned.

While we hope the Inquirer's new owners will take their role as the guardians of local journalism seriously, we also hope that the existing tendencies in certain coverage in the paper will be re-examined by management and staff alike, and better yet, even corrected in the future.

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