Sussex Jewish News was conceived on a coach trip to the synagogue in Portsmouth in September 1993. Arnold Lewis z’l and Doris Levinson learned that Irene Noah, who had been producing a magazine called Jewish Life with her husband for some years, had decided to give it up because of ill health. As members of the Representative Council, Arnold and Doris felt that the essence of the magazine – the Communal Diary, so lovingly and carefully produced every month by Pauline Fifer z’l – should continue to be available for members of the Jewish community in Brighton and Hove. Read more...
The very first issue of Sussex Jewish News came out in October 1993 and consisted of a letter from Herzl Sless z’l, the then President of the Brighton & Hove Jewish Representative Council, with the Communal Diary on the reverse. It was sent out to members of synagogues and organisations asking for membership of £5.00 and a request for articles and advertisements. It was hand-typed and photocopied (no electronic equipment in sight at the time) and stuffed into envelopes and posted out to arrive on people’s doorsteps on the first day of every month.
And so it has continued – arriving on the doorsteps on the first day (or as near to the first day) of every month (except for a combined 2-month New Year issue). The price has of course had to be increased, due to printing and postage costs, but it is still very affordable and fantastic value for money, as well as being a lifeline for many members of the community, especially those who do not have computers or are housebound.
After a few months, Steven Morris very kindly offered to produce the information on his computer in his back room, often working until 2.00 am. Gradually, advertisements and more copy arrived, and the magazine grew to four, then eight and even twelve pages – still in black and white and still being photocopied, collated by hand before being sent out.
In November 1996, Hilary Miller designed the first colour cover and proudly SJN now boasted 16 pages of information, rising to 20 or even 24 for the Rosh Hashanah issue.
Every month, each of the four synagogues contribute a page with inspiring messages from each of the rabbis. News came in from Worthing, Eastbourne, Hastings & Bexhill. Most of the community organisations send in stories and messages, including personal announcements, details of events and photographs, charity reports, information from the JACS and Historical Society team and also the very full programme at Ralli Hall. There continue to be film and theatre coverage, book reviews, reminiscences, personality profiles, poetry, history and information about Israel.
SJN has no reporters as such, but is grateful for all those who send in articles, comments, letters and advise the team of what has or is about to happen. All the major community events have been covered, such as the Holocaust Memorial at Meadowview Cemetery, the launch of Jewish Continuity; the Anne Frank Exhibition at Brighton College; the Brighton Jewish Film Festival; the deaths of our greats – Yitzhak Rabin, Rabbi Erwin Rosenbloom, Rev. Kalman Fausner; MBEs and OBEs awarded to members of our community; the Torah Academy; Hillel House; the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at Sussex University as well as the induction of Rabbis Efune and Rader by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; the visit of Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis; the induction of Rabbis Meyer and Zanardo at the Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue and Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah at the Progressive Synagogue.
The SJN team is very small, but very dedicated and there have been a few changes. Katie Lyons took over from Steven Morris for a while with her computer expertise and helped to redesign the SJN look. The blind and partially-sighted were delighted when Stewart Macintosh recorded each month’s issue onto cassette tapes and then floppy disks which were sent out free of charge every month to ten or twelve subscribers in special envelopes which they returned free of charge in the post.
Over the years, SJN benefited from the knowledge and support of a number of wonderful helpers – Laurence Temerlies, Calum Turner, Myra Winston, Deanna Samuels, Laura Sharpe, Angela Goldman, Sharon Rubin, Karen Pettit and Ivor Miskin z’l. Doris Levinson stepped down in 2006 as her husband was very ill and sadly passed away in 2007. Arnold Lewis, who had been the Administrator, also sadly passed away in 2007. But miraculously, Linda Freeman, who had come back down to live in Brighton from London, stepped up to the mark and offered to take over the editorship of the magazine for a couple of years, with Ivor Sorokin as Administrator, assisted by David Seidel, Sharon Rubin and Ivor Miskin, who sadly is also no longer with us.
Out of the blue, SJN had the extreme good fortune to be joined by Stephanie and Brian Megitt who had come to live in Eastbourne from Manchester and they have been and still are an immense asset, working tirelessly with great expertise together with Ivor Sorokin, Bernard and Lydia Swithern, David Seidel, and Michael Rich Doris Levinson, who came back on board,.
The magazine has been completely transformed into a full colour production with amazing front covers and interesting articles. Two weeks of every month are dedicated to the production of SJN, sourcing information, editing and proofing copy, chasing people for articles in time for the deadline, sourcing Communal Diary events, obtaining advertisements, sending out invoices and organising the printing and posting of the magazine. It is a professional production, produced by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Sussex Jewish News has become an archive for the Jewish community in Brighton, Hove and Sussex. It is sent to the East Sussex archive and to the Jewish Museum in Jerusalem. There are readers all over the world.