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Jewish Advocate suspends publication after 118 years, plans to launch new online initiative

The Jewish Advocate, a Boston-based newspaper reporting on the Jewish community since 1902, is suspending publication of its weekly print product but plans to launch a new digital edition focused on advocacy, the paper says on its website.

“In its issue of September 25, 2020 announcing suspension of publication, the paper announced plans being developed to launch a new digital edition of The Jewish Advocate focused on advocacy, to Advocate for Jews, the Jewish community and for the State of Israel, so as thereby to continue the mission envisioned by Theodor Herzl in founding The Jewish Advocate 118 years ago ‘to inculcate Judaism into the community and progress the cause of the re-establishment of the Jewish faith and a Jewish state,’” the site says.

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The Advocate, the site says, has also reached an agreement with NewsBank, a company that partners with colleges and other entities, to include the paper’s complete archives in its library, making the content accessible to the general public.

NewsBank, the Advocate says, is currently digitizing the archives, which should be online at some point next year.

The Jewish Advocate organization, tax exempt status, trademark, and website are being maintained and will be active for the foreseeable future both as re-launch plans are being developed and in the hope that funding may materialize or our communal organizations and federation might reconsider restoring their support, in which case the paper will resume publishing as soon as possible thereafter,” the site says.

The site also gives a nod to the Advocate’s close connection to the bygone Newspaper Row corridor in downtown Boston.

“Based in downtown Boston, in the former Boston Post daily newspaper building ... overlooking what was known in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s as ‘newspaper row,’ The Jewish Advocate has published weekly (and in some years twice a week) every week since its founding over one hundred years ago.”

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A front-page editorial in the Advocate’s Sept. 25 issue, posted to the paper’s website, detailed the decision to stop printing the weekly edition.

“With enormous sadness The Jewish Advocate is unfortunately announcing that it is suspending publication with the current issue of September 25th and going on hiatus,” the editorial said.

The article noted the “long list” of major Jewish weekly newspapers that have either closed or stopped printing over the last few months, including the Canadian Jewish News, London’s The Jewish Chronicle, the New York and New Jersey Jewish Week, and the Forward print edition.

“While the Jewish Advocate carried on as the oldest continuously published English language Jewish weekly in the United States, ... the current economic environment and challenges for newspapers in general, and Jewish weeklies in particular, have made it impossible to continue.”

Advertising revenue, the editorial said, has virtually disappeared amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and donations haven’t sufficiently offset the financial hit.

But all isn’t lost for the venerable paper.

It intends, the article said, through its new online venture to “provide an independent forum for primarily Greater Boston news about our community and various organizations, and importantly, debate and discussion of the issues, organization[s] and programs in our community.”

The paper also thanked its many supporters.

“In concluding, we wish to thank our many tens of thousands of loyal subscribers, advertisers, contributors, suppliers, friends and supporters” who’ve been part of the paper and who “will hopefully be part of the new Jewish Advocacy as that materializes in the future.”

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.